From 8th to 3rd place: Boys XC defies preseason ranking

Kelly Jinguji, Editor in Chief

After losing five seniors from last year’s varsity cross country team, the presumption surrounding this year’s team was set: the young team would not perform as successfully as it had within the past years.
However, the boys team proved everyone wrong.
Following a second place finish at state the year before, the new team of young runners challenged its preseason ranking of eighth place and finished third at state.
The state team, comprised of seniors Jake Knoblich and Tyler Deaver, junior Alex Krohn, and sophomores Luke Knoblich, Rory McClelland, Alex Hartford, and Mehul Krishna, consisted of two previous state competitors, and a new group of athletes whose state performances were uncertain.
“We were not ranked well in Washington State during the season,” McClelland said. “Everyone underestimated us.”
But this didn’t stop the boys team. In fact, the lack of recognition for the Patriots was motivation, driving the team and its members to a third place, 148-point finish at state.
“It’s the classic underdog story. We lost five seniors. We had something to prove. We kept training, kept working hard, and kept motivating each other. And we finished third at state,” Deaver said.
The state cross country championship, held at Sun Willows Golf Course on November 5, was a day full of nerves for the boys.
“On race day, I was extremely nervous,” Deaver said. “I channeled my nervous energy into helping my performance, and I ran my personal best.”
Not only did Deaver run his personal best on the 3.1-mile course, five of the seven Liberty competitors ran personal records, and all contributed to the team’s high placing.
Jake Knoblich was Liberty’s top finisher, running 16:27.2 for a 15th place finish at Sun Willows Golf Course. Rounding out the top five was Luke Knoblich (18th, 16:29.9), Rory McClelland (36th, 16:50.8), Alex Hartford (71st, 17:23.6), and Tyler Deaver (77th, 17:30.5).
Although the 2016 season has ended, next year’s returners have high hopes for the future of boys cross country.
“We want to improve as a team,” McClelland said. “It would be amazing if we could win state and if all of our team could be running within the 16:00 range for the 5k.”