Patriots cross-country squads finish undefeated in KingCo
October 22, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
On the back of the Liberty cross-country team’s blue sweatshirts is an outline of Washington state. Superimposed across it are the words “We run this place.”
The 2013 Patriots are well on the way to living up to the phrase, having just completed an undefeated KingCo 3A/2A regular season.
Both Liberty boys and girls teams captured perfection with wins against Mercer Island and Mount Si in an Oct. 16 dual meet at Mercer Island’s Luther Burbank Park.
After top seniors Allie Wood and Megan Chucka graduated from last year’s team, which finished fifth at state, Liberty coach Mike Smith said he wasn’t sure how the 2013 girls squad would fare.
That doubt was erased almost immediately, as the Patriots appeared to reload, rather than rebuild, with the addition of two star freshmen in twins Brigette and Kelsey Takeuchi.
“Really, we gained what we lost,” Smith said. “All the girls from last year are one year faster, and then we have two newcomers that are as fast as girls that we lost last year.”
Brigette Takeuchi took first place in the Oct. 16 meet with a time of 18 minutes, 38 seconds on the 3-mile course.
The soft-spoken freshman has been a pleasant surprise this year, Smith said, forming a formidable one-two punch with returning junior Sarah Bliesner.
Bliesner took second in the meet against Mercer Island and Mount Si, crossing the finish line in 19:09. Patriots teammates Carlyn Schmidgall and Kelsey Takeuchi finished just behind her, giving Liberty the top-four finishers for the girls.
“I was super happy for Carlyn and Kelsey because they were staying up with me, which is great, because that’s what we need to do for districts,” Bliesner said.
The Liberty girls are poised to make quite the run at this year’s state meet, possibly finishing higher than any Patriots team has before. The team is currently ranked third in the state, and recently defeated top teams Glacier Peak and Kamiakin at an invitational.
“I was really excited after beating them because I really want to get to the podium this year at state,” Bliesner said. “I think this year there’s a really good chance of that.”
The state ranking is a nice recognition, Smith said, but his team is more focused on the next three weeks of postseason competition.
“KingCo, districts, state, those three things are what we’re working for,” he said. “Good things happen along the way if you’re focused on those three things at the end.”
Bliesner said last year’s state experience will certainly come in handy as the squad prepares for the competition in Pasco.
“People are gunning for us this year, because we’ve shown ourselves in meets,” she said. “But we’re also coming in more confident and more able to handle the stress.”
Boys prepare for a district fight
Liberty senior Aaron Bowe took the top spot at the Oct. 16 meet, finishing the course in 15:38. Sophomore Collin Olson took second, crossing the finish line in 15:59.
“I pushed really hard. I think for today, that’s about as fast as I could’ve gone,” Bowe said.
Patriots took four of the top six spots in the meet. Sophomore Andrew Cooper took fourth with a time of 16:34, while Trevor Sytsma finished in 16:37, good for sixth.
The Liberty boys’ state prospects aren’t as bright as the girls, Smith said, due in large part to tough Metro League opponents they are set to face at districts.
A few of the boys have a chance to make it to state as individuals, but Smith said he would love for them to qualify as a team.
“This year’s team is the only team that’s really had a shot at making state since I’ve been here,” Bowe said. “So, we’re pumped for districts. We’re unleashing at districts. We all need to run our best to get to state.”