Cross country: Ike gets second wind

November 6, 2011 by  

Cadets follow up 2010 championship with runner-up finish ||

PASCO, Wash. — Santos Vargas knew it immediately. When Jaziel Rodriguez realized it a few moments later, his eyes lit up.

What these senior leaders of Eisenhower’s boys cross country team held up as ambitious individual goals they delivered exactly on point at Saturday’s Class 4A state cross country championships.

Third place finisher Santos Vargas of Eisenhower runs in a tight pack that includes winner Jacob Smith of Wenatchee and second place finisher Amdrew Gardner of Mead during the first mile of the 4A cross country state championship Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 in Pasco, Wash. (Andy Sawyer/Yakima Herald-Republic)



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Vargas felt a great effort would put him in the top three of the day’s final race. And that’s precisely what he gave and what he got, placing third in 15 minutes, 13 seconds on Sun Willows Golf Course’s 5,000-mile layout.

Rodriguez, likewise, yearned for a top-10 finish and he rallied for exactly that, finishing 10th in 15:36 on a bright and chilly afternoon that saw fast times for the taking.

It was like that throughout Ike’s team — the best effort was put forth and kids ran to their limits — but it wasn’t enough for the second-ranked Cadets to pull an upset over No. 1 Gig Harbor.

The Tides became the first westside team to win the largest classification boys title in 25 years, scoring 55 points with stellar pack running and stopping an eastside streak that Eisenhower, the defending champion, was hoping to continue.

Behind Vargas and Rodriguez, the Cadets went out cautiously, perhaps too cautiously, and then came on with a rush to lock up second with 78 points and the program’s third team trophy in as many years.

“We would’ve liked another quarter mile,” said Ike coach Phil English. “We were closing well and gaining ground, but there was a little too much to make up. Gig Harbor had an exceptional score. We were close to our score last year (Ike won with 73 in 2010) so even on a perfect day we probably wouldn’t get them.”

And yet there was some perfection.

Like the timing of Vargas’ recent illness, which slowed him at last week’s regional meet but finally relented a few days ago.

“I still had this fever and runny nose in the middle of the week, and it felt like everything was falling on me at once,” Vargas said. “But yesterday I finally felt better and today, about a mile in, I knew I’d be OK.”

Vargas shadowed his regional rivals, Wenatchee’s Jacob Smith and Mead’s Andrew Gardner, and that was a wise thing to do. Steadily through miles two and three, that trio gapped the other front runners.

“That second mile hurts but that’s when you really have to work at it,” Vargas said. “I watched Gardner and Smith and really wanted to be in the top three with them. At the end, seeing the time and place, that was a great feeling.”

Smith outsprinted Gardner for the victory, 15:03 to 15:07, and with Vargas the eastside got a 1-2-3 finish.

Rodriguez wasn’t far off their pace and finished one spot in front of Gig Harbor’s No. 2 runner.

“At about a mile and a half it felt like the group I was in was breaking me,” Rodriguez admitted. “But I told myself it was my last year and I can’t have any excuses. I was hurting, but kept pushing it. The top 10 was my goal and I got it.”

Davis senior Alberto Melchor, in his first trip to state, placed 19th in 15:52. Melchor was hoping for an invitation to the Nike Border Clash on Nov. 20 and he just may get it.

The top 17 runners in the 4A races received invitation cards after the race, and Nos. 18 and 19 are alternates.

“That’s what I was shooting for,” he said of the Oregon vs. Washington all-star race. “It was weird out here for my first time, not knowing the course very well. But I felt strong at the end and that got me in the top 20.”

Seniors Kyle Chapman and Delfino Dominguez, who ran on last year’s title team, sandwiched sophomore newcomer Drew Schreiber to round out Ike’s top-five scoring team. Chapman ran third for the Cadets, placing 33rd to shave 57 spots off last year’s finish.

Ike’s split between Chapman and its No. 7 runner was just 17 seconds.

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