That’s what Redmond High School cross country was all about this season as the boys and girls squads both notched 6-0 records en route to 4A Kingco Crest Division titles. They’re set to take their talent to the next level at Thursday’s 4A Kingco championship meet at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. First race is at 2 p.m. on the 3.1-mile course.
Seniors Johnathan Stevens and Lila Rice lead the way for their squads with personal-best times of 15 minutes, 44 seconds and 18 minutes, 50 seconds, respectively, this season.
Rice’s motivation comes from feeding off her Mustang teammates’ energy and support.
“I’ve been trying to focus mentally more on the races this year, so I think that’s helped me a lot,” said Rice, who logged copious runs during the summer. “What helps is the team element in cross country. The girls, we all train together every single day and you know that you’re not just running for yourself — you’re running for your teammates when you’re out there.”
Stevens is coming off a successful track season last spring when he finished eighth at state in the 1,600 meters and third at districts in the 3,200 meters (he also qualified for state in that event).
“Track season went really well, so I just kind of used the momentum from that and made sure I was out with the team in the summer,” he said of the Mustangs’ six-days-a-week training sessions.
He noted that the team is a tight-knit unit this season and the guys hang out every weekend and hoof it over to QFC for chocolate milk after practices.
“Whenever we’re out running on the course, we have a lot deeper connection with our team, so we’re definitely thinking about that when we’re running,” Stevens said.
Twenty-eight-year Redmond coach Denis Villeneuve said that leadership from his many returners has put the Mustangs in a good spot heading into Thursday’s races.
Other top runners are Zach Kirwan (top time, 16:30) and Kelsey Dunn (top time, 19:12), who helped lead their squads to first and third place, respectively, at the recent Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School in Marysville. Villeneuve said that event is the largest invitational in the state.
It’s another solid season for Redmond cross country, the coach said, noting that last year the undefeated girls won both the 4A Kingco regular-season title and league-meet crown and finished third at state, while the boys took second at the league meet and wound up 11th at state.
Individually, Megan LeGresley took fifth at state and Dunn placed ninth at state last year. They each finished second and third, respectively, at both the Kingco and district meets.