For the first time in over a decade, the entire boys cross country team represented Woodinville High School at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) 4A state championship meet. 

Head coach Jennifer Bolibol said she combed through several records to discover many individuals competed at the state level, but it had been about 10 years since the entire boys team went to state. 

“There was a lot of excitement knowing that this team was the team that had conquered the record,” Bolibol said. “They're pretty proud of themselves. Anytime you go to state, I think it’s like the icing on the cake.”

The WHS boys team placed eighth with an average race time of 17:17.70 minutes at the state championship held at the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, Wash., on Saturday, Nov. 6. The girls team sent two individual runners for the state meet, senior Chloe Olson and junior Piper Welch. 

“They're both super positive girls with contagious attitudes that you want to catch,” Bolibol said.

For the boys team, senior Kya Villanueva led the pack with a time of 16:40.20 minutes for 3.1 miles. Senior Tre Pepper followed shortly after with a 17:02.10 race time, according to the WIAA race results. 

Junior Oliver Campbell crossed the finish line at 17:02.30 minutes and sophomore Caden Bieler finished at 17:02.40 minutes. About a second later, Gabriel Kary completed the race with a 17:03.90 time. Jackson Green, the only freshman on the team, ended the race with a time of 17:20.10. Senior Riley Fitzgerald finished the race in a time of 18:53.00 minutes, stated the race results. 

Four of the team members crossed the finish line within seconds of each other, which aligns with the training Bolibol hoped to instill in the team, she said. 

“This season, we have been coaching about the importance of a pack mentality in cross country,” Bolibol said. “I think that’s what creates really good, winning teams.”

If runners stay close to each other during a competition, she said, it doesn’t allow other runners to come in between the team. Also, teammates can encourage one another along the way, she noted. 

Representing the girls’ team, Olson placed 95th out of 148 other athletes and finished the meet with a time of 20:58.80 minutes. Welch completed the race with a time of 22:10.60 minutes, according to race results.

“It was just so fun to see Chloe Olson, as a senior, make this moment because I know it's something she's wanted for a long time,” Bolibol said. “The cool thing about Chloe is she's so supportive of her other teammates.”

During the state meet, the stormy weather cleared just in time for the Falcons to hit the course. Bolibol said the course proved to be challenging for the runners.

She said sandy patches, uneven ground and slick grass on the golf course became a factor in whether athletes beat their personal records. 

“You could see both the boys and the girls battling to do their best,” Bolibol said. “My hope is that they want to keep working hard next year.”

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