PASCO – Seattle Prep’s Joe Hardy found himself in an unfamiliar position Saturday — looking up on the podium.
Hardy, who had only lost one race this season and two in the last two years, couldn’t quite chase down North Central’s Tanner Anderson during the Class 3A state cross country championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
“If that race was 100 more meters, I could’ve got him,” Hardy, a senior, said. “But that’s not the way it is, and I don’t want to be condescending to Tanner, he ran an incredible race.”
Hardy finished the 5,000-meter course in 14:33.16, while Anderson, a junior, won it in 14:32.83.
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While Hardy couldn’t quite chase down his dream, Lake Washington’s Devon Grove and Northwest School’s Graham Peet realized theirs, winning state titles.
Grove learned a key lesson from state as a junior and put it to good use as a senior.
“I went out with some guys a bit out of my league and got run down at the end,” Grove said. “I definitely wanted to start a little smarter (this year). I heard people screaming (on the homestretch) and thought people were on me. I kept waiting for someone to blow by me like last year.”
Instead, Grove grabbed the 2A state title for The Northwest School of Seattle, finishing in 15:29.72.
For Peet, the 1A race was a continuation of the regular-season battle with King’s runner Andrew Ayers. The pair, both juniors, had gone back and forth, and it was much of the same Saturday, but Peet had the better finish to earn the title.
“I know I have a quicker kick than him, so I tried to stay on him,” Peet said. “It’s real exciting. It took a while to sink in. I’ve been working for this since June, and I’m really happy.”
Peet finished in 15:50.8, while Ayers was second at 15:53. King’s took fifth as a team, as Medical Lake won the title.
But the story of the day was certainly in the 3A boys race, as Hardy finished a spectacular career without the victory he coveted.
“Of course I wanted to win state,” Hardy said. “But I’m happy knowing I did the best I could.”
Hardy took second at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 28, but had won five consecutive races since then. He won the state title last year, and was the favorite to win again this season.
North Central’s Anderson burst out quickly and by the second mile had opened up a 25-meter lead, something he knew was necessary to hold off the hard-charging Hardy.
It almost didn’t work, as Hardy came down the final hill at a full sprint, but the Spokane runner was able to withstand the charge and grab just the third individual title in North Central’s storied cross country history.
“I just tried to stick with the guys in front and hopefully could out-kick them and win,” Hardy said. “I didn’t have it today and Tanner ran a great race.”
Seattle Prep took fifth as a team with 147 points. North Central won the title with 41 points, while Nathan Hale was third at 86 points. Andrew Foerder was fifth for Hale, finishing in 15:09.18, while teammate Sam Leach was seventh in 15:21.33.
• In Class 4A, Garfield’s Cameron Stanish was seventh as the Bulldogs took fourth as a team. Redmond finished second as a team in that race, while Gig Harbor runners Logan Carroll, Wolfgang Beck and Tristan Peloquin finished first, second and third, respectively, to lead the Tides to an overwhelming team victory.