Sports: Cross country stars from Peninsula high schools to compete at state

Runners from four North Olympic Peninsula high school cross country teams will be competing in the state meets this Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

The Port Angeles boys will compete in the Class 4A event and Chaya Branham will run individually in the 4A girls race.

All state races take place on the same 5-kilometer course.

Port Townsend sends both its girls and boys teams while Sequim’s girls squad will compete.

Area district champions hoping to finish high individually are Dan Lucero of Port Angeles and Hannah Granger of Port Townsend.

The Roughrider boys are ranked fourth in the state cross country coaches’ association poll but were delivered a serious blow this week when No. 3 runner Jon Dryver was diagnosed with a broken bone in his left foot.

Dryver, a senior, completed the West Central District 4A Meet last weekend after breaking the bone midway through the race. He entered district with an undiagnosed stress fracture that no one knew about until after the race.

Doctors this week estimate that the stress fracture became a full-blown fracture about halfway through the district meet.

“Their shot of getting first (at state) now has been brought way down,” Port Angeles coach Maya Zeller said Thursday morning. “We’re hoping they can still take fourth or fifth.”

Port Angeles senior Dan Lucero is one of the top-ranked runners in the state. Still, he’ll likely need to eclipse his personal-best 5K time of 15 minutes, 24 seconds to take the state title.

“We’re confident he can do it be we know he’s running against some of the best runners in the nation,” Zeller said. “His goal is first but he’s humble. His conservative goal is top five.”

Joining Lucero on the Port Angeles boys team are: Josh Brown (senior), Brad Ahrndt (junior), Aaron Jaksha (senior), Jay Nolan (junior), Sam Hennessey (sophomore), and Dwayne Johnson Jr. (senior).

Hennessey is battling the flu and Johnson moves up in place of Dryver, who will still make the trip to Pasco to support his teammates.

Zeller said the boys team motto is now be “Dryven” for Dryver.

“On the girls side, Chaya (Branham) is feeling very positive,” Zeller said. “She’s ready to go.”

Branham is a sophomore.

PT sends both teams

In the 2A Division, Port Townsend is looking dominant after first-place finishes from Devon Buckham and Hannah Granger in last weekend’s district meet.

Granger, who has led the Redskin pack all season, helped the girls take first place overall, securing them a spot in the state finals.

Running behind Granger for the Redskins will be Cecily Rennie, Alisha Blake and Helen Pilling, all with top-20 finishes at the district meet.

Buckham’s first-place finish in the boys race put the Port Townsend boys team in second overall, keeping them alive for state.

Other top-10 finishes for Port Townsend were Nik Hoffman (fourth, 17:28) and Will Bringgold (eighth, 17:43).

Sequim eyes top 10

The Sequim girls cross country team missed the district championship by just two seconds on Saturday, and while it was not first place, it was an invitation to state.

“It was two seconds,” Wolves head coach Harold Huff said. “That has a way of sticking in a person’s head.”

The Wolves secured the second-place finish with top-20 finishes from Stephanie Marcy (second), Jennifer Tripp (11th), Tara McCallum (13th), Heather Smith (15th) and Lauren Cutting (19th).

McCallum was questionable going into the district meet after suffering an ankle sprain in practice.

“She looks really good,” said Huff. “Hopefully, she will be able to improve on her time at state.”

While the Wolves were strong competitors at districts, Huff said that he will be happy if the girls can place somewhere about 10th place at Pasco.

“We just aren’t a top seventh-place team against some of these other schools,” Huff said. “I just hope they stay focused. If they do, I see them having a good race.”

On the boys side, the Wolves failed to make the state finals, finishing seventh in their district meet.

In the individual bracket, Alex Smyth and Anton Clifford both earned a berth in the state meet with top-20 finishes.

“All I can say is they look really strong,” Huff said.

“I look for them to have a great race.”

In other cross country action, Rosa Anderson of Forks High School was the lone Spartan qualifier for state after finishing ninth in the 2A District 4 Championships on Saturday.

The Spartan boys failed to advance after finishing in ninth place.

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