JOYCE — Area harriers made quick work of the 3-mile race course at the Salt Creek Invitational as Sequim senior Riley Pyeatt won the girls race, and Port Angeles claimed the overall boys varsity championship at the 12-team cross country race Saturday.
The 43rd Salt Creek Invitational returned to the fields, trails and hills of Salt Creek Recreation Area after a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, and area runners were up to the task.
Boosted by second-place finisher Jack Gladfelter and Luke Gavin in fourth place, the Roughrider boys posted 36 points to earn the team title, edging Class 3A Nathan Hale (45).
“It is always hard to compare different courses — each having different elevation changes and conditions. In addition, the Salt Creek course is 3 miles, in lieu of our regular 3.1,” Port Angeles coach Rodger Johnson said. “All that considered, runners improved their times by one to two minutes from last Wednesday [season-opening run at Bremerton].”
Gladfelter finished the course with a time of 15 minutes, 36.5 seconds, just behind Klahowya’s individual champion senior Kelton Gagnon (15:30.4).
Gavin came in with a time of 16:30.1 to edge Sequim’s top finisher Colby Ellefson (16:33.6) for fourth place.
The Wolves did not field a full boys team.
“We had plenty of time to warm up and go through our pre-race routine, and that helped a lot,” Gavin said.
Riders’ juniors Maxwell Baeder (16:42.3) and Langdon Larson (16.51.8) placed ninth and 14th, respectively, and senior Naaman McGuffey rounded out the Port Angeles team total with a 17th-place finish in 17:19.4.
East Jefferson landed two runners in the top seven as juniors Max Allworth-Miles (16:38.4) and Sebastian Manza (16:40.9) finished back to back in sixth and seventh place.
“The East Jefferson varsity boys did not field a complete team but were rounded out by senior Glen Dawson, 16th in 17:16, and freshman Soare Johnston, who ended up 19th with a time of 17:33,” coach Alice Fraser said.
“Notably, Johnston posted the fastest freshman time of the day by 57 seconds as well as the fastest freshman time for any East Jefferson athlete at the Salt Creek Invitational in more than a decade.”
Pyeatt’s best timeIn the girls race, Pyeatt posted her fastest time of her three career Salt Creek varsity runs, winning in 18:09.2, surpassing her third-place finish as a sophomore in 2019 (18.15) and a runner-up performance as a freshman in 2018 (18.54).
The Wolves didn’t field a complete team, but sophomore Kaitlyn Bloomenrader also ended up 12th (20:29.2).
Freshman Zakara Braun was the top Roughrider girls runner, coming in 36th with a time of 23:31.1.
East Jefferson runners tied with North Kitsap with 81 team points, just behind third-place Klahowya (80), with Shelton earning the girls team title (62).
Sophomore Aliyah Yearian and junior Camryn Hines placed in the top eight, with Yearian ending up sixth in 19.13.3 and Hines just behind with a time of 19:16.5.
Sophomore Tadu Dollarhide was 21st for the Rivals (22:04.9), and senior Lia Poore was 22nd (22:07.5).
“The team was rounded out by sophomore Sylvia Butterfield, 33rd in 23:08, and senior Ava Vaughan-Misfud, 34th in 23:11,” Fraser said.
“This year’s girls have the greatest depth and fitness that the team has seen in years.”
Sequim and Port Angeles runners will compete at the second Olympic League meet of the season Wednesday at Lincoln Park, while East Jefferson runners will race at Vashon Island, also on Wednesday.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.