Mud doesn’t slow down Panthers

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Washougal senior Sean Eustis earned second place in the 2A boys district cross country race Saturday, at Evergreen State College.

Depth propelled the Panther girls cross country team to the state championship meet.

Five runners finished between 16th and 25th place to lead Washougal to second place as a team behind Capital at districts Saturday, at Evergreen State College in Tacoma. Karina Miller clinched 16th place (21:21), Paige Roberts grabbed 19th (21:30), Meredith Collins took 20th (21:46), Hannah Wright earned 22nd (21:56) and Yaneli Martinez notched 25th (22:21).

“I knew we could do it. We showed everybody what we’re made of,” Roberts said. “Panthers are tough. We can handle anything.”

The girls gained the opportunity to run together one more time with the best teams in the state Saturday, at the Sun Willows golf course in Pasco. The girls race at 11 a.m., followed by the boys at 1:30 p.m.

“I’m really excited to see how we all do because it’s a very big race,” Miller said. “It’s bigger than anything we have ever been a part of.”

It’s going to be a great building block for the future. Roberts and Wright are juniors, Miller is a sophomore, and Collins and Martinez are freshmen. Brooke Croeni, Megan Anderson and Sydney Hickey will also be running and training with the team at state.

“The best part about this is we made it as a team,” Collins said. “We couldn’t have done it without each other.”

Washougal seniors Sean Eustis and Isaac Stinchfield gained some company on the journey to Pasco. Eustis earned second place (16:08) at districts, and Stinchfield followed in third (16:11). What impressed both Panthers was the emergence of teammate Thomas Normandeau. The junior grabbed 10th place (16:48) at districts to qualify for state in just his first year of cross country.

“Thomas just ran his heart out,” Eustis said. “He’s like a wolf that’s hungry, and he has that ambition in his eye. I definitely hope to run with that same ambition at state.”

After he fought his way into the top 15, Normandeau knew he would be going to state if he held his position. But then he got motivated to do even more and wound up in the top 10.

“It’s going to be fun to travel with the team and be part of this state experience,” Normandeau said. “All of the people worked hard to get this opportunity. Let’s keep training hard this week, and then go and have some fun.”