PASCO — Each member of the Bishop Blanchet boys cross-country team wears a T-shirt that has the slogan “State 53.”
It is, coach John O’Leary said, a reminder of how many times a Bishop Blanchet boys team has been to the state meet.
“And 53 times is a record,” O’Leary said.
And his runners, formerly known as the Braves, celebrated in the best way they knew how — by winning the Class 3A boys team title at Sun Willows Golf Course.
Led by junior Will Schneider, who pulled away around the 2-mile mark to win the individual title, Blanchet scored 88 points. Gig Harbor was second with 111 points.
It was the first time since 2004 that a Blanchet boys team won a state team title.
But it was kind of expected, too.
Blanchet entered the meet ranked 23rd in the nation in the latest high-school team rankings by dyestat.com.
“We’ve had a target on our backs,” O’Leary said. “And I think they welcomed the target at first, but then it became heavy.”
O’Leary said just walking down the halls at Bishop Blanchet, students and teachers would constantly congratulate the team.
“But that was in September,” he said. “Here we are in November. Anything less than first would likely have been a disappointment to these kids.”
Schneider was primed to cross the finish line first, covering the 3-mile, hilly course in 15 minutes, 17.10 seconds. He was 17.10 seconds faster than the second-place finisher, Brandon Moore of Arlington.
Schneider stuck with the other leaders for the first mile.
“But I saw the pack had opened up with a gap,” Schneider said. “I decided to go with it. I had determined at about the mile-and-a-half mark I would make my move. But I ended up a half-mile early.”
Nobody could catch the young speedster.
“I told him to try not to do anything until the last mile,” O’Leary said. “He went early. I knew we had something special with Will.”
Schneider even learned something about himself.
“I’ve always thought my strength was running the 800 meters up to a 5K,” said Schneider. “But I’m thinking it might be the last mile.”
Schneider’s teammates came rolling across the finish line to seal the team title.
Freshman Vincent Recupero finished fourth in 15:47.3 — providing key few points toward the team title.
Other top Blanchet placers included senior Tyler Graff in 17th and Drew Oliver in 19th.
“All of our hard work paid off,” Schneider said. “I think we had our hopes to take the title. The pieces came together. I mean, we knew we were gonna be good when we had our intrasquad race in September, and it was the fastest race ever.”
Blanchet has won nine team titles, and it was the third for O’Leary — who took over for Leo Genest in 1997.
O’Leary wanted his runners to savor the moment when they stood on the podium for the team picture.
“Take the moment in, fellas,” he told them. “(State titles) don’t come easy.”
Eastlake girls win 4A crown
Eastlake’s girls took the Class 4A team title with 64 points, cruising past Lewis and Clark of Spokane, which scored 104. Tahoma was third at 110. The Wolves entered the state meet ranked third in the state coaches poll behind LC and Tahoma.
Freshman Jane Roos led the Wolves by placing eighth in 18:54.10. The Wolves put four in the top 25 with Emily Van Valkenburg (11), Fiona Wolf (13), Sally Roos (14) and Alyssa Flindt (24).
- There were two runners who repeated as state champions — even though the last state cross-country meet happened in 2019. Kamiakin senior Isaac Teeples pulled away from Olympia’s Ethan Coleman late to win the 4A boys title in 14:57.80. That was the was the sixth fastest boys time since the course was converted from 3 miles to a 5K in 1997. Teeples won the 3A individual title in 2019 as a sophomore.
- Ilwaco’s Daniel Quintana won the 1B/2B title. Quintana took the same crown in 2019 as a sophomore.
- Senior Ella Borsheim of Bellarmine Prep completed her high-school cross-country career with bookend titles. Borsheim, who is headed to the University of Washington, won the 4A title as a freshman. She won Saturday’s 4A race by holding off the Skyline duo of Anna Callahan and Sydney Collier, who finished 2-3, respectively. Borsheim finished the race in 17:51.00.
- In the closest team race of the day, Sehome edged Arlington 64-65 to take the 2A girls team title. Junior Jessica Frydenlund of Anacortes earned the 2A girls individual title with a time of 17:58.70.
- Complete results available here.