The girls race at the rainy meet featured two defending state girls champions.
ARLINGTON — It’s not every day that one defending state champion edges another in a cross-country meet.
But it made for a thrilling finish at the 33rd annual Hole in the Wall Cross Country Invitational, the largest meet at any level in the state of Washington.
The top girls race — billed as one of the best in the state this year — didn’t disappoint, with defending Class 3A state champion Jordan Oakes of Holy Names edging last year’s 4A state champion Taylor Roe of Lake Stevens in the rain-soaked race Saturday at Lakewood High School in Arlington.
“It’s like a pre-state meet,” Oakes said. “It’s an opportunity, not only for myself, but our whole team to see where we’re at and see what our goals are for state and see where we are now. I love racing Taylor. We’ve become, I don’t want to say rivals, but she’s a competitor and I know when I race her I’m going to get a really fast time and it’s going to be a really good race.”
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The Hole in the Wall featured over 3,400 runners from 98 schools from across the Northwest, California and Canada. The top girls race featured the two defending state champions, along with the second-place state finisher in Class 1A — and defending Hole in the Wall champion — Erin Mullins from Cascade (Leavenworth). The race also included the top-ranked girls teams in the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Poll in 4A (Camas), 3A (Edmonds-Woodway), 2A (Liberty of Issaquah) and 1A (Northwest).
“I wanted to go out and see how I could do against elite competition,” Roe said. “ … I love all these girls. I’ve run against them multiple times. It’s just great to come out and have a really competitive race with them.”
Oakes finished the 5-kilometer race in 17 minutes, 17.4 seconds, about four seconds ahead of Roe (17:21.6). Mullins (17:35.4) placed third.
“It wasn’t really until maybe one kilometer to go that Taylor and I kind of broke away,” Oakes said. “It was a pretty good group.”
“It will probably be the strongest and most competitive high-school girls race in the state anywhere this year,” said Jeff Sowards, the Lakewood coach and meet organizer.
Jesuit (Oregon), which is ranked No. 18 nationally, finished first in the girls team standings with 52 points. Camas (99) finished second, followed by Edmonds-Woodway (110).
While the weather was less than ideal, it didn’t prevent some fast times in both the girls and boys races. On the boys side, Yacine Guermali of Camas upset defending Class 1A state champion Tibebu Proctor (Northwest) to run away with the individual title with a time of 15:17.3. Proctor (15:32.6) placed second, followed by Mount Si’s Joe Waskom (15:34.1) and Luke Houser (Woodinville), who finished in 15:39.1. Cullen McEachern of Kamiak (15:45.4) rounded out the top five.
“Obviously, it was a bit of a sloppy day with the rain and the wind, but I think my team and I did well,” Guermali said. “ … (The weather) just made things a lot more fun. This is definitely cross country right here. It’s a good race to have before the end of the year.”
Poway (169), a strong squad from California, took the team title.