A pair of juniors are leading Ridgefield’s growing cross country team after both making the switch from soccer as their previous sport.
The Spudders cross country team consists of 52 runners this season, the largest since the pandemic, head coach Angela Shields said.
Junior girls runner Danica Allen has finished first overall in three league meets, and junior boys runner Davis Sullian finished first in two out of the three league meets and second overall in the first league meet of the season against Columbia River and Washougal.
On Wednesday, Sept. 27 the Spudders competed against Hockinson and Woodland high schools at the Hockinson Meadows Community Park.
Sullivan finished the boys 5,000-meter race with a time of 17 minutes, 4 seconds. His teammate Jack Radosevich finished second with a time of 17:17. Six Ridgefield runners finished in the top 10.
Allen finished the girls 5,000-meter race with a time of 20:06, narrowly beating teammate Charlize Kellmer, who finished in 20:08. Four Ridgefield runners finished in the top 10.
“They have been just our standout athletes in the form of really representing what our program stands for, just doing everything it takes to become an elite athlete,” Shields said of Sullivan and Allen. “They’re just in that top tier of athletes.”
Allen is in her first year of cross country after being a soccer player, Shields said. Shields added that she watched Allen compete in track during the spring where she posted fast times in the 800- and 1,600-meter races.
“We just have been kind of waiting for her to make the transition, and she decided to go ahead and do it after track this year,” Shields said. “When I talked to her about some of the opportunities that running could open for her as far as doors to college, she’s now really starting to see that. She’s starting to get a letter or two here from some big schools.”
Like Allen, Sullivan was also a soccer player before transitioning to cross country. During the pandemic, Shields coached middle school, and during that time she recruited Sullivan to consider cross country in high school, she said.
“He was a soccer player, and he tried to balance both and just kind of struggled. And when he finally decided to make the full switch, his time and his dedication just went through the roof,” Shields said of Sullivan. “He’s in the grind all the time, but with that level, he’s also our main team leader. He leads by example, just that dedication that he puts in and nobody has to tell him what to do. He just knows how to do it, and that’s a beautiful thing to see finally pay off.”
With the success so far this season, Shields hopes her runners will qualify for the boys and girls District IV 1A/2A Championships at the Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland.
Until then, the runners will continue to run 30 to 60 miles a week in preparation, Shields said.
On Wednesday, Oct. 4 the Spudders will face off against Fort Vancouver and R.A. Long high schools at Ridgefield High School. The 2A Greater St. Helens League meet will follow at 4 p.m. at Lewisville Park, north of Battle Ground.