Mount Si High School cross country begins new era at new home course, which could become a major player in regional high school cross country

Good morning. Mount Si High School’s cross country program began a new era yesterday, and it’s one that could see the Valley become a top destination for high school cross country.

Mount Si High School junior cross country runner Paul Talens (right) races past as he took the boys’ varsity race at the Wildcats’ home cross country meet in North Bend yesterday. (Rhett Workman/SVSJ)

The Wildcats raced on their new course for the first time. The past several seasons, Mount Si has raced their home meets at Mount Si Golf Course in Snoqualmie, but yesterday, began their history at the old Cascade Golf Course in North Bend. The facility, set to become a new regional park managed by Si View Metro Parks, shapes up to be perhaps one of the better facilities in the region to host a high school cross country meet, and we’ll discuss that more in a future story. In the meantime, Mount Si hosted half of Kingco 4A yesterday for their lone home meet of the season, taking on North Creek, Woodinville, Bothell and Issaquah.

The boys led things off, and Wildcat junior Paul Talens held off Woodinville’s Kya Villanueva to take that race. Talens clocked the 5k course in 16 minutes, 3.2 seconds, beating Villanueva by a little over 3 1/2 seconds. Talens’ Mount Si teammate Austin Gappa finished a close third, about a second behind Villanueva. Talens welcomed Gappa’s assistance in helping keep the Falcon runner at bay. “(He and I) are always friends on and off the field (and) we’re constantly pushing each other to do our best,” Talens said.

Their efforts propelled the Wildcat boys to a team title in the race, scoring 30 points to Woodinville’s 38, lower score wins. Issaquah, Bothell and North Creek in that order rounded out the team competition.

Talens is looking for a strong finish to this season. “I’m hoping for a good Kingco finish and to get this team to state,” he said.

Then the girls took to the course, and this race became quickly dominated by Issaquah junior Julia Smith, who ended up winning this thing rather easily – by over a minute and a half – over two Woodinville challengers who finished runners-up. Smith clocked 18:03 followed by Falcon Nell O’Hara in second with a time of 19:38. O’Hara’s Woody teammate Elyn Lee came in third about five seconds behind, then Mount Si’s Ravenna Vaden led the Wildcat contingent across, taking fourth with a time of 20:08.1. The weather was cold and clear, and according to the sophomore, that was a factor in her race. “It was really cold, so I couldn’t really feel my legs that much, so that made me run faster, because I didn’t feel pain in my legs,” she said. Her time helped her get closer to her season goal. “I’m trying to break 20 (minutes) and I’m getting pretty close to it because I keep PR’ing, so I hope to continue doing that,” Vaden said.

Mount Si High School’s girls’ cross country team. along with teams from four other Kingco 4A high schools, race out of the starting area at yesterday’s Mount Si cross country meet in North Bend. (Rhett Workman/SVSJ)

PR’ing refers to setting personal best times in races, which is a goal all runners have at this level and one that has been a hallmark of this program dating back to the long coaching tenure of Christine Kjenner, who retired a few years ago. Her then-assistant Sean Sundwall is now coaching Mount Si, and continues that same philosophy with the kids about setting their personal best times.

Smith’s efforts aided Issaquah to a tight win in the team competition, scoring 38 points to Mount Si’s 41, again lower score wins. Woodinville and Bothell rounded out the team competition with North Creek not fielding enough runners to form a team for the meet, and thus as a result they were not scored. Their top runner, though, finished well back in the pack so had they been scored as a team, they likely would have finished fifth.

A junior varsity boys race followed the two varsity races, with Issy’s Trent Angell winning clocking 18:40.9. Mount Si’s top runner in that race, Callahan Visk, finished well back with a time of 21:27, and the Wildcats finished fifth as a team in that competition.

Mount Si heads up to the Hole in the Wall Invitational in Arlington on Saturday.

Hole in the Wall preview
The annual Hole in the Wall Invitational is up at Lakewood High School, and this year a field of entrants from Washington, Oregon and Canada are in the field. Among the teams Mount Si will see are several from Kingco 4A, including the Cougars again, along with Newport, Eastlake and Inglemoor. Several squads from Kingco 3A are also slated to compete. This race could be a preview as well for what to look for in the state meet over in the Tri-Cities next month.

Racing begins at 9:30am with a freshman/sophomore girls’ race, with the top varsity races not expected to start until around 3:00pm.

To get there, take I-5 north to Arlington exit 206 and turn left, heading west about 1 1/2 miles to 11th Ave., and there, turn left. Parking will be there shortly afterward.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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