The La Center girls cross country team was so close to a state championship last season, the Wildcats could almost taste it.
Although Colville edged La Center for the top prize by three points, head coach Andrew Helm said the Wildcats were thrilled to stand on the podium in second place. Seniors Emily Graham and Sierra Harris, juniors Natasha Lewis and Roselynn Martin are ready to lead La Center on another state championship quest this season.
“Emily and Sierra have the experience. They are steady athletes. They always give me their best and they have been great role models for Natasha and Roselynn,” Helm said. “And Natasha and Roselynn are starting to realize, ‘I’m fast but I can also be a role model to the sophomores and freshmen we have coming up.’ It’s great to see them passing on the torch and sharing that culture.”
Graham and Harris said the stars aligned on the day La Center got second at state.
“I’d say it was a lot of teamwork and encouraging each other,” Harris said. “Really trying to get into the right mindset of, ‘We can do this. We got what it takes. We put in the hard work and now it’s time to see it pay off.’”
Lewis led the Wildcats by placing 11th at state. Martin and Graham also finished in the top 30.
“Teamwork is huge. If I was just running for myself, I wouldn’t be as motivated,” Lewis said. “When I’m running a race, I’m doing it for my team. I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for the girls out there. I know that they’re pushing, so I know I need to push harder.”
After such an eye-opening experience, the girls have put in a lot of miles during the summer. The Wildcats are also tackling the hills, circuits and intervals in practice with furiousness.
“Everybody on the team is getting so fast,” Martin said. “It’s nice because we are able to push each other really well, and I think we will be able to just lay it all out on the course.”
Martin adds that the adrenaline at the finish line is unmatched.
“I love just getting numb at the end of the race from how hard I pushed,” she said.
Running has taught Graham and Harris about hard work and perseverance.
“I want to go home feeling completed. I don’t want to feel like I could have ran another lap, I could have done this, I could have done that. I want to make sure I put all my hard work into my day,” Graham said. “Whatever I’m doing, I want to make sure I’m thinking about my running, thinking about my team and what I can do to help my teammates.”
Although expectations for these girls are higher, so is their desire to do the best they can at every single race.
“I just want us all to be able to run together and just have fun,” Graham said. “It’s fun when we win, but it’s more fun when we do it together. And we have fun doing this together.”
Radosevich, Ridgefield boys aim high
Ridgefield High School senior runner Kyle Radosevich kicked off his cross country season by placing second in the Ash Creek Festival Saturday at Western Oregon University. He completed the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 42 seconds. Jonas Price of Eisenhower won the race in 15:33.
Radosevich and the Ridgefield boys have won three straight district championships. He would love to cap off his high school career by going 4-for-4 with his teammates.
“I want to teach these guys about work ethic. Working hard while running. You may not always like it, but you gotta do it,” Radosevich said. “That’s how you get better; the days that are hard.”
After placing sixth at state last season, Radosevich is aiming for the top of the podium in November. A state championship would be a dream come true.
“I really improved this offseason working not only on my mileage but also in the weight room,” he said. “I’m going to put in everything. It’s going to be a good year.”