Kings West looks for state rebound | Cross Country

 - Photo courtesy of Emil Heinze Freshman Molly Wheeler finished fourth in the 1B/2B girls race at the Westside Classic Nov. 1. Wheeler is one of eight KW cross-country runners to advance to today’s state championships in Pasco.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Emil Heinze Freshman Molly Wheeler finished fourth in the 1B/2B girls race at the Westside Classic Nov. 1. Wheeler is one of eight KW cross-country runners to advance to today’s state championships in Pasco.

‘Disappointing’ outcome at districts can be erased today.

Out of sight, out of mind.

For coach Dennis Sheline, it’s the best way to handle the disappointment of his team’s showing at the Westside Classic Nov. 1 where it raced for berths to the 1B/2B Washington State Cross-Country Championships, but qualified just eight runners.

“The girls should have run better, the boys should have run better,” Sheline said Thursday. “It was just one of those days.”

The team didn’t leave empty-handed despite Sheline’s disappointment, qualifying six girls and two boys to today’s state meet in Pasco.

Junior Carlie Rouse and freshman Molly Wheeler finished third and fourth overall, respectively, in the girls race to secure individual state bids. The girls team advanced as well.

Rouse, who has consistently posted the Lady Warriors’ best times, finished in 21 minutes, 13 seconds, behind BreAnna Romerdahl (20:26.4) and Alexis Fynboe (21:12.4), both of Mount Rainier Lutheran. Wheeler clocked a time of 21:56.8.

“Carlie, she’s running strong, don’t get me wrong,” Sheline said. “Molly, she ran strong. Could she have been up? Yes.”

Rouse now looks to rebound from last year’s state race, which both she and now-senior Kristina Moseng ran with anemia and placed near the bottom.

“It was disappointing last year, but at least we knew what happened,” Sheline said. “It can’t be as bad as it was last year.”

Wheeler, who is making her state debut, joins Rouse, Moseng, Faith Hamilton, Megan Barros and Brenna Myers on the six-member KW girls lineup to race in the team competition.

But while Rouse and Wheeler advanced to state individually, Sheline said injuries have considerably slowed them down, a problem the entire roster has faced.

On the boys side, sophomores Kelvin Mason (inflamed Achilles tendon), Caleb Bertolini (knee) and Joe Witz (foot), all of whom failed to qualify for state, have been slowed by what Sheline called “nagging” injuries.

“The most disappointing thing this season was injuries,” Sheline said. “They were just enough to keep them back.”

Seniors Kyle Whitt and Jarrod Coley did provide bright spots for the boys team, which finished in fifth place and fell short of a state berth by three points.

Whitt placed seventh overall with a time of 18:24.1 and Coley finished 19th (19:10.3). The top 20 boys earned state bids.

Sheline said Coley, who has ran since sixth grade, deserved to make the state race after joining the team in Pasco last year but not participating. “It’s a big consolation for him to finally make it (to state) on his own, to make it outright,” Sheline said.

But the slew of injuries were simply too much for the team to overcome, particularly the boys.

“Most of them didn’t say anything during the season,” Sheline said. “The nice thing is it makes them hungry for next year.”

And because only Whitt and Coley will graduate, the boys team figures to rebound nicely. For now, however, Sheline expects big things from the runner who did qualify and are set to race at state today.

“The feeling for me is the same as it’s been all season,” Sheline said. “High expectations.”

The temperature is expected to dip into the 30s, Sheline added, which could pose additional challenges not only for his runners, but the entire field.

“That’s tough on the lungs,” he said, adding that the course — Sun Willows Golf Course — is known to be difficult, beginning with an incline and rarely leveling out, rolling along in waves.

“A flat course is more like running on a track,” Sheline said. “Every time you go up and down, you’re using energy.”

The team practiced light this week to nurse injuries, playing Frisbee, running easy two-mile jogs and playing soccer.

The Class 1B/2B girls race begins at 9:30 a.m. and the boys race begins at 11:30 p.m.

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