Cascade High School Runners Have Strong Showing at State XC


Aiden Tuttle battles it out between two other runners at the finish of the State Championship. Submitted Photo

3Caroline at State: Caroline Menna had to stay focused and run her own race since the girls were spread out in the State Championship. Submitted Photo

Alice at State: Sophomore Alice Farrell had a 25 second PR at the State Championship, even in windy conditions. Submitted Photo

Cascade High School cross country runners battled the smoke for weeks and still triumphed definitively at League, earning state berths for both girls’ and boys’ teams. This is their second year in a row to beat out the local competition in order to race against the best 1A schools in the state, many of which are private schools.

The State Championship, which has been held at the Sun Willows golf course in Pasco for decades, happened on November 5th. The course boasted closely mowed grass and no rain, but the wind, which gusted into the 30-mph range, made for challenging conditions.

Seven girls and seven boys from CHS raced, and they were accompanied by their coaches, two alternates and plenty of cheering parents, siblings, and friends.

In cross country, overall team winners are determined by lowest score, a sum of a team’s top five racers’ finishing places. Cascade High School was predicted to come in 13th out of 16 teams for boys and 12th out of 15 teams for girls.

“The smoke severely diminished our training and fitness,” explained head coach Dayle Massey. “We ran far less than half as much as we would have without smoke. On the bright side, we were well rested and not over-trained! We went into state without expectations, just to run our best and see what happens.”

The teams found the best performances, again and again, on the racecourse. “Finishing 6th and 7th was an awesome accomplishment,” said Massey. “Our front runners, Caroline Menna, and Aiden Tuttle led the team with their usual solid performances. The extremely windy conditions at the state meet made the times especially slow this year.

“Yet we still had six runners set personal records: Alice Farrell, Izzy Menna, Harper Baker, Evan Butruille, Blue Knutson, and Brayden Anderson.” When Massey looked through the results, he confirmed, “No school in any division had six PRs at state besides us. The best I saw were three. This is a testament to how hard our kids raced, and probably also due to the two weeks of smoke-free training we had prior to the meet, our biggest block of solid training of the entire season.”

Menna, a tenth grader, shared her thoughts on what enabled the girls to do so well. “We have a core of the team who come from families that are committed to fitness in general, and value running specifically. Coaches Massey, Bard and Astell share and craft that commitment and those values into a training ethic, which in turn keeps us all coming back, day after day.

“Some other programs have pretty intense coaches that focus primarily on results and the top runners. Our coaches, however, genuinely care just as much about those who are either new to running or in it for reasons other than competition. That kind of vibe makes for a healthy, fun atmosphere,” she said.

Tuttle, a senior, was also grateful for a strong sense of team spirit and the efforts of the coaches. “I think what contributed to us doing well at our meets and qualifying for state was having coaches that pushed us. With the smoke issues, our coaches drove us to Blewett Pass to practice, where there was no smoke.”

Menna and her sister, Isabel, a junior, finished first and second for CHS all season long. “Getting to run with my sister is one of the highlights of the sport for me,” said Menna. “We're not just sisters, but best friends, as well. We trained together all summer as we traveled, including on many long chatty runs.”

As for her own race at State, Menna admitted it wasn’t perfect, though she still ran well. “My adrenaline was high at the start line, and I went out too fast in the first mile. During the second I tried to recover; the third was just a fight to drag myself across the finish line. While I had hoped for a higher placement, I am satisfied with a top 20 finish. Next year will be much different.”

Tuttle’s race was about adapting as it unfolded. “That first mile, having people way faster than me really pushed me. By the second mile, it was super windy, so I had to start drafting off people in front of me, and, by the last mile, I gave it my all.”

Tuttle may become a lifelong runner because, as he said, “My favorite part about this sport would be the freedom. Running really helps me clear my head.”

Camaraderie is also fundamental to what keeps the CHS cross country program thriving with such depth of talent and enthusiasm. “Even though cross country seems like an individual sport, it really would make no sense, or have no appeal, without teammates and coaches,” said Menna. “I run because other people run, and it's only fun to do something I love if it's with others.”

 

 

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