Panther girls are GSHL champions

Danielle Frosrt/Post-Record Karina Miller, Paige Roberts, Meredith Collins and Hannah Wright (left to right) show off their top 10 ribbons. These four girls helped the Panthers win the league championship race Thursday.

The Washougal High School girls cross country team captured the league championship for the first time since the school joined the 2A Greater St. Helens League in 2006.

“Washougal hasn’t won league in a long time,” said sophomore Karina Miller. “For our girls to be league champions is a big deal.”

“It shows that we are able to accomplish our goal,” added junior Paige Roberts. “We’re like one big family, all getting stronger together.”

The Panthers defeated R.A. Long, Hockinson, Ridgefield and Mark Morris Thursday, at Hockinson Meadows Park. Miller finished in fourth place with a time of 21 minutes, 31 seconds. Roberts snagged seventh place in 21:58. Meredith Collins (22:34), Hannah Wright (22:39) and Yaneli Martinez (22:50) followed in ninth, 10th and 11th place.

“I’m happy that we won as a team, and that we all crossed the finish line together,” Martinez said. “I hope we can all get to state and do some amazing things.”

The girls will get their shot at the 2A district championship meet Saturday, at Evergreen State College in Olympia. The top three teams and the top 15 individuals advance to the state championship race Saturday, Nov. 3, on the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

“Thursday was nice, but it’s not the real deal,” said head coach Terry Howard. “It’s all about Saturday. Our goal is to run even better.”

The Washougal girls say the goal this week is to keep up that Panther fighting spirit. It helped them become league champions. Now they’re hungry for more.

“I’ve heard that course is hard,” Wright said. “We just have to survive.”

“Even if we don’t all make it to state, we will have fun and make memories,” Collins added.

Sean Eustis and Isaac Stinchfield snagged first and second place in the boys league race. Eustis crossed the finish line first in 16:18, and Stinchfield followed in 16:21.

Thomas Normandeau took sixth place in 17:25, Nicolas Velardi notched 13th in 18:28 and Collin Manning claimed 20th in 19:28. Mark Morris beat Washougal for the team trophy, but the Panthers rose above Hockinson, R.A. Long and Ridgefield.

“Mark Morris ran great. By far their best race of the season,” Howard said. “If we run as well as they did Saturday, maybe we can win instead of them.”