By Bucky Beaver
For the first time in its schools history Ballard High School (BHS) sent both their boys and girls cross country teams to the State Championship this past weekend in Pasco, Washington.
Ballard definitely made the most of their time there! The 3A competition Saturday morning pitted the top 145 student-athletes from across the state against each other.
The girls had five of their seven runners finish in the top half placing 4th as a team! Competitors included junior Jamie Smith who placed 16th, senior Taylor Safford (36th), senior Giulia Park (38th), freshmen Veronica Redpath (63rd), sophomore Natalie Bruecher (72nd), senior Lauren Kangas (109th), and senior Monica Cohen (125th). This was the first time the girl’s team competed at the State competition and they showed very well.
The boy’s team appeared at state for the first time since 2007. The team, which is very young with only two seniors competing, placed 10th overall! Sophomore James Konugres posted the fastest time for the Beavers placing in 35th place. Others who competed include Junior Owen Buck (39th), senior Hanson Lee (74th), junior Danali Cornwell (90th), junior Elliot Bailey (93rd), junior Garret Jaeger (122nd), and senior Benjamin Klinkman-Sinatra (133rd).
Head coach Bob Mirenzi is in his fifth year as head coach with many years before that helping with both the girls and boys cross country programs as well as track and field. BHS Athletic Director Carrie Burr notes, “Bob has done a wonderful job transforming the XC program into a powerhouse! He demands a lot out of his athletes and they respond. He’s created a special program where students want to be a part of and everyone feels valued.”
AD Burr added, “the last four years the boys program has been the one that has carried the Beavers with lead runners like Alex Bowns and last year’s freshman James Konugres, so it’s been fun to see the girls team kick some butt this year and getting the much deserved attention and accolades behind the leadership of Junior standout Jamie Smith. I can’t wait to see what happens next year with Jamie, James and Owen Buck at the lead. My money’s on the Beavers – all the way!”
Photo courtesy of Ballard High School.