SPORTS: Port Townsend changes cross country coaches

PORT TOWNSEND — Kevin Sanford certainly went out on a high note.

The longtime Port Townsend High School cross country coach stepped down earlier this summer, less than a year removed from a spectacular season that saw two of his runners finish 1-2 in Class 1A state meet in Pasco.

He will be replaced by Blue Heron Middle School track and field coach Jeni Little.

The 46-year-old Jefferson County YMCA board member served as an assistant to Sanford as recently as five years ago.

She guided the Blue Heron girls cross country team to an undefeated league championship in its inaugural season last fall.

“I’m excited about being able to move along with some of those girls who are going to be freshmen this year and just keep it going,” said Little, who is also a marathon runner herself, having competed in the Boston Marathon in May.

“I really have no idea at this point [what to expect]. We’ll just see who shows up when practice begins [on Monday].”

Junior Bereket Piatt will likely be one of them.

He finished second at the Class 1A meet behind outgoing senior Quinton Decker, who will run on scholarship for the University of Montana this fall.

“[Piatt] is really good,” Little said. “And I’m fortunate to have variety of associate coaches from the PT Running Club who will help me with some of the more talented runners like Bereket.”

Sanford said he plans on helping Little wherever possible. He will also continue as the Redskins track and field coach.

Yet he had to give something up to pursue a math endorsement, he said. The cross country coaching position, which he held for the last 15 years, was it.

“It was something I just hated to give up,” Sanford said. “My wife [Janine] and I deliberated over it for several years, actually. It was something I didn’t want to do, but there’s only 24 hours in a day, and you’ve got to sleep a couple of those hours.”

Sanford leaves the program at one its highest points.

Not only did Decker and Piatt go 1-2 at state, they also were 1-2 at the Olympic League meet at Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course in Sequim.

The year before that, the Redskin boys finished second to 3A Port Angeles at the league meet only by virtue of each team’s sixth runner.

And with the Fort Worden Invite entering its 14th year, the program even has a centerpiece event to attract runners.

“We just love the kids, love the sport and love to run,” Sanford said of him and his wife. “We’re still into it. We’ll be there.

“I’m hoping the kids will have a new energy and be motivated to work hard for their new coach.”

Just so you know

From the, it’s better late than never department . . .

Some of the cuts proposed by Port Angeles School District athletic director Jeff Clark last spring will not be necessary after all.

The school board voted to put $25,000 back into its athletic budget in May, allowing the high school to keep C teams for its volleyball and girls basketball programs.

That means Port Angeles will have C teams in volleyball, boys basketball and girls basketball this upcoming school year.

Practice begins today for varsity football teams across the North Olympic Peninsula. All other fall sports begin practice on Monday.

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