Washougal runners excel at all-league challenge

Panthers prepare for districts Saturday in Woodland

Hannah Swigert ran the fastest race of her life at the 2A Greater St. Helens all-league cross country meet Thursday, at Hudson’s Bay High School.

The Washougal High School junior broke 20 minutes on a 5,000-meter course for the first time. She finished in second place with a time of 19:36.

“I didn’t like the wind, but it didn’t stop me,” Swigert said. “I was giving it my all to help the team. I wanted to feel pain and push over that wall. I got to start believing I can do these things, no matter what obstacle.”

Panthers Bailey Duncan and Aiden Pullen pushed each other to third and fourth place in the boys race. Duncan came in third place with a time of 16:37, which is just four seconds off his best time.

“We started out in like 30th, and just kept reeling them in,” Duncan said. “When we were battling it out on the stretch, that was probably the most fun part. It really didn’t matter who finished in front as long as we went all out for the team.”

Pullen followed in fourth place with a personal record time of 16:41.

“I haven’t had a PR since the third race of the season. I did that today, finally,” Pullen said. “Having Bailey right there with me at the end gave me a little extra energy.”

Duncan and Pullen led the Washougal boys to second place behind Ridgefield. Troy Prince-Butterfield took 13th place (17:23), Collin Manning claimed 16th place (17:43) and Koy Chaston notched 19th place (17:47).

Gabriel Dinnel sat out of the all-league race due to injury. The Panthers hope to have him back at full strength for the district meet Saturday, on the Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland.

“If Gabe is right there with us, and we can get three runners in the front like we did today, we can definitely make it to state,” Pullen said.

The Washougal girls team settled for fourth place at the all-league meet. Brooklyn Bausch grabbed 17th place (21:11), Annabelle Palmer earned 19th place (22:18), Signe Zacho secured 26th place (23:05) and Meredith Collins claimed 30th place (24:09).

Leading runner Courtney Owens has been sidelined for weeks by a hip injury. Head coach Terry Howard doesn’t think she’ll be ready to go at districts.

Swigert said the Panthers are going to leave it all on the course for Owens.

“We are going to push ourselves until we can’t walk,” Swigert said. “And if we don’t make it to state, at least we gave it our all.”