LAKEWOOD – Endalkachew Abebaw enjoyed the competition in Class 4A. But he’s loving the success in 2A even more.
Abebaw, who transferred from Kentridge High School to Lindbergh this year when his family moved, cruised to victory Saturday in the 2A boys race at the massive Westside Classic at American Lake Golf Course. Battling rain, cold and gusting winds, he finished in 16:35.4 — nearly 25 seconds ahead of the next runner, teammate Colton Maddy.
It was four seconds slower than the time Abebaw posted in the 4A event last year, when he placed 25th and went on to take 79th at state. But he didn’t push himself Saturday down the stretch, in part because he still has a tender flexor muscle.
And it was plenty good enough to win, giving Abebaw a boost heading next Saturday’s state meet, where he is shooting for a top-15 finish, if not top-5.
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“This is a real confidence-builder for me,” he said.
Despite the 1-2 finish, Lindbergh had to settle for second place in the team standings behind Sequim, 77-80. Renton was a distant third with 113.
Abebaw said it was clear early on it would not be a fast race because of the conditions. Andrew Ayers of King’s said the same thing after he hit the chute first in the 1A boys race, clocking 16:29.5. Graham Peet and Tibebu Proctor of the Northwest School were about three seconds behind.
Now, Ayers has his mind set on one thing for the state meet.
“To win,” he said. “I don’t really care what the time is, as long as I can finish first, it will be a successful day. I’ve just got to try my hardest.”
Ayers placed seventh at state as a sophomore last year, but had hoped for more until he came down with the stomach flu late in the season, dropping 10 pounds in three days.
• Junior Alexa Efraimson of Camas, the defending state champion, won the 4A girls race by nearly a minute. Mount Rainier’s Jordan McPhee, who won the 4A state title as a sophomore in 2011, struggled Saturday and finished 23rd. Bellarmine Prep, Camas and Tahoma are ranked 1-2-3 in the latest state rankings, and finished that way in the meet.
• It was no surprise to see Gig Harbor capture the 4A boys championship. The Tides, ranked No. 1 nationally, had four runners in the top eight and finished with 54 points, well ahead of second-place Tahoma (109). But Wolfgang Beck didn’t defend his individual championship, running more closely in the pack with his teammates. He was fifth. Peter Kesting of Olympia and Riley Campbell of Tahoma finished 1-2.
• Mitch Stewart of Federal Way finished 19th in the 4A boys race. Stewart is better known for his prowess on the tennis court as the two-time state singles champion, but opted for cross country over tennis this fall.
• Nicole Goecke and Jamie Ferris ran 1-2 to lead Prairie to the 3A girls crown, 41-44 over Peninsula. Enumclaw took third with 87. Columbia River earned the boys team title as Austin Blankenship won the race.
• Lindbergh won the 2A girls title with an impressive 61 points – 50 fewer than North Kitsap. Freshman Lauren Wick led the way, taking third. NK’s Kathleen Ramsey was the champion.
• Audrey Western of University Prep win the 1A girls race in 19:26.1. Mount Baker cruised to the team title with 63 points, nearly half as many as second-place King’s (114).