Washougal’s Amelia Pullen and Ridgefield’s Silas Griffith lost their way in the last mile of the district cross country races they were leading Saturday.
Pullen rallied to fourth place and Griffith finished second. Afterwards, she wondered how they both got misdirected at a critical moment in the race.
“I took a wrong turn three times,” Pullen said. “I don’t really know how far back I was, but I was not close to the front.
“I just have to do this,” she told herself before chasing after the leaders. “Just stay strong. It’s OK.”
Pullen completed the race in 20 minutes, 23 seconds. Although she was heartbroken about dropping to fourth place, her spirits lifted when she found out the Washougal girls team qualified for state. The Panthers finished in third place, four points behind Tumwater and seven from champion Ridgefield.
“I’m really happy for us, and really excited to try and re-do this at state,” she said.
Hannah Swigert took seventh place (20:37) for the Panthers, Brooklyn Bausch grabbed 23rd place (21:45), Annabelle Palmer claimed 25th place (21:46), Morgan Stinchfield earned 28th place (22:03) and Bekah Shilling (22:07). Swigert ran a season best time, and Bausch, Palmer, Stinchfield and Shilling set new personal best times.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team and to be team captain,” Swigert said. “We have worked hard. I’ve encouraged them, and I’ve seen a lot of change and maturity. We came here to do our best and set the standards high, and I think each of them individually did.”
The Washougal boys also captured third place to send everybody on the team to state for the first time since 2010.
“It’s a great way to end a high school cross country career,” said senior and captain Aiden Pullen. “Both teams are going to state. It’s just awesome.”
Gabriel Dinnel clinched fifth place for Washougal. The sophomore crossed the finish line in 16:30.
“I was a little surprised, in a good way,” Dinnel said. “It just feels really good to be up there with those guys. I didn’t want to let anyone pass me at the end.”
Aiden Pullen also kicked hard at the end to secure eighth place in 16:47.
“I had to be careful because I wasn’t feeling good,” he said. “I had to save it for when I really needed it, and I did.”
Jackson Keyser rose to 24th place for the Panthers in 17:34. Not only was that the fastest time by any freshman in the race, it also improved Keyer’s personal best by 15 seconds. Troy Prince-Butterfield snagged 26th place in 17:39 and Koy Chaston claimed 33rd place in 17:55.
The state meet takes place on the Sun Willows Golf Course, in Pasco. The Washougal girls race at 11 a.m., and the boys compete at 1:30 p.m.
“I want to have fun, I want to make memories and I want to run the best race of my life,” Swigert said.
She will never forget the day the stars aligned for Washougal at districts.
“We all came together and raced the race we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season. We did it.”