SPORTS: Port Townsend duo go 1-2 at boys Olympic League Cross Country Championships

SEQUIM — Bereket Piatt wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.

A year after getting caught on the homestretch by North Kitsap’s Tabor Reedy, Port Townsend’s cross country star came home a winner at the Olympic League championships at Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course on Thursday.

The defending Class 1A state champion put enough space between him and the field to hold on for the varsity boys title.

Piatt finished the 5-kilometer race in 15 minutes, 53.04 seconds, just in front of hard-charging teammate Habtamu Rubio (15:55.32) and well ahead of Kingston’s Nicholas Schippers in third (16:07.08).

“[Reedy and Schippers] pretty much have the same speed, and they’ve got to sprint at the end,” said Piatt.

“So I just had to work with my endurance, make sure I stick with [the front pack] and during the second lap just take off on my own and give it what I got.”

In the end, that turned out to be just enough.

After finishing second to former teammate Quinton Decker in 2008 and Reedy in 2009, Piatt finally had an Olympic League crown to call his own.

The Kingston boys won the team title (meet results are on Page B3).

“I stuck with it [after the first lap], and it hurt pretty bad, but during the second lap when we came around the corner, I just picked it up from there,” Piatt said.

“It helped that [Rubio] was right next to me. I was like, ‘Let’s just take it from here.'”

That’s exactly what they did, pulling away from Schippers and cruising to the same 1-2 finish they had at the 1A state meet last fall.

The way Rubio furiously sprinted down the homestretch, however, the story might have been flipped if the race was 50 yards longer.

“That was my goal really, to keep up with him the whole time, and have a nice finish like I did,” Rubio said. “If I kicked a little bit sooner I think I got it, but I didn’t.

“That was just one mistake. But overall I was pretty happy finishing second and not getting beat by [Schippers].”

Everyone got beat by a different Kingston runner in the girls race.

As was the case at Salt Creek in September, Marina Roberts ran away from the pack to cruise to a first-place finish in 18:19.40.

That was more than 32 seconds ahead of the closest runner, Reagan Colyer of North Kitsap. Colyer’s Vikings, however, were the girls team champions with 42 points. Kingston was second with 44.

“I was just going to try and beat as many people as I could,” said Roberts, who followed up her sister Ruby’s three league titles with one of her own. “Just do whatever I could do.”

Obviously, that was quite a bit.

Finishing two spots behind her was Sequim’s Audrey Lichten in third (19:04.77). Port Angeles’ Alison Maxwell wasn’t too far behind in fourth (19:17.94).

“I just went into it wanting to race with the girls [up front] and see where I was at compared to them,” said Lichten, who beat Maxwell by less than a second at a three-way meet last week. “It went really well.

“I didn’t know exactly where I’d place within them, but I felt good.”

While Lichten got the better of the individual matchup on Thursday, it was Maxwell’s team who finished ahead.

With her, Khason Politika (ninth), Jaime Gladfelter (13th) and Hannah Wahto (15th) each placing in the top 15, the Riders took third out of seven teams to qualify for the Westside Classic on Oct. 30.

The top four 2A teams and top 20 individuals all went on to the West Central District meet at American Lake Golf Course.

Port Townsend automatically qualified for the 1A race.

Port Townsend’s Brittany Grant was 10th to lead the Redskin girls to a fourth-place finish.

Sequim squeezed its way into districts finishing fifth.

“My girls ran their best race of the year,” Wolves coach Harold Huff said. “A lot of them are new to it, and they sucked it up and had a great race. A couple of my boys were off a little bit, and it just killed us.”

The Sequim boys finished just outside of districts in sixth despite ninth- and 16th-place showings from Alex Jenkins and Adrian Clifford, respectively.

Archrival Port Angeles, however, turned in one of its best races of the season, taking fifth behind 1A Port Townsend to punch its ticket to the Classic.

The Roughriders were led by Nicholas Schindler, who took 14th in 17:20.22.

“The kids ran really well today,” Port Angeles coach Pat Durr said. “They were really happy with their times.

“It’s a tough league. And the boys were saying if we could get in the top four, I think we’ll go to state.

“We go against the South Puget Sound League, and they are not looking as tough as this league. So we have a chance.”

No doubt, Piatt and Rubio should also have a chance to repeat their 1-2 showing in the next two meets: the 1A Tri-District and state.

“I was waiting for this to happen at state, because that would be way cooler,” Piatt said. “But that’s fine, it happened here, and just from here keep it going like that.”

Added Rubio, “That’s our goal, it’s going to be hard, but I think if we work hard enough, we can do it.”