Rainier cross country hitting stride ahead of league championships


Six weeks into the season, the Rainier High School cross country team has its eyes on reaching the WIAA State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 4 in Pasco.

Head coach Rob Henry believes the team, composed of 10 boys and eight girls, can get there, especially due to the improvement he has seen over the course of the season.

“The girls are really performing well. They’ve only lost one meet by two points. In order to make it to state, they just have to perform,” Henry said. “The boys are getting stronger each week. We lost a lot of guys last year, so we’ve had a lot of new faces coming in, but they seem to be getting better each week. To get to state, they have to really be on their game. They’re right there in the mix.”

Before the Mountaineers can reach the state championships, they must first compete at the Central 2B League Championships on Thursday, Oct. 19 at Onalaska Middle School.

“It’s going to take everybody to win. Everyone is going to have to push themselves as much as they can,” junior Emma Mathson said of the league championships.

The Mountaineers have performed well in Central 2B competitions, including at the Central 2B Kick-Off on Sept. 14 at Rainier Elementary School. In the girls 5,000-meter race, four Mountaineers claimed spots in the top five, including junior Madison Ingram in first place at 22 minutes, 37.62 seconds. They also took four of the top five spots in the Willapa Harbor - Riverwoods Meet on Oct. 10 at Riverwoods Golf and RV Park, including Ingram’s first-place — as well as season best — time of 19:41.1. Junior Angelica Askey recorded a time of 21:43.81 at the event, and freshman Rayanna Wisner ran a 21:44.69  — both good for season bests in the 5,000-meter category.

For the boys, junior James Meldrum and sophomore Zach Hamilton have excelled, particularly in the 4,000-meter and 5,000-meter races. They took first and second place, respectively, in the Central 2B League Meet at Adna High School on Sept. 28, as they were the only two to complete the race in under 15 minutes. Meldrum finished second place in the 5,000 meters at the Willapa Harbor - Riverwoods Meet on Oct. 10, with a time of 18:04.58.

The Mountaineers have a mix of veteran leaders and energetic newcomers, which has played a role in their success, Henry said.

“The older ones have really brought the newcomers in and have done a nice job melding with their personalities. We try to make it feel like a family. Running’s not always fun, so it’s nice to have people who go through the same misery as you.”

“It feels more like a family each year I compete,” Meldrum added. “It’s a great group. The coaches make it feel like home. They push us to reach our potential.”

Raychel Hansen, one of the few seniors on the team, said the leadership dynamic on the team doesn’t just come down to the upperclassmen helping the underclassmen. She said everyone has a leadership role, which only strengthens the team’s bond.

“I have a lot of advice to give about anything, but I get to listen to others as well. Everyone else is a leader on the team, not just me,” she said.

Hansen hopes that bond and team-wide leadership will guide the runners to the state championships in Pasco. But while the team is excelling and improving each week, she said the team can’t get complacent with its success.

“To get to state, we just have to keep pushing like we are right now. I think we pretty much have a spot locked in, but you can’t ever just keep thinking like that. You have to keep pushing.”

The Mountaineers aim to continue their success at the Central 2B League Championships and then in the District 4 1B/2B Championships on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Rainier Elementary School to decide their postseason fate.