Another race, another golden run for rising star Mack Young.
The Redmond High junior built upon his breakthrough victory at the boys cross-country bi-district championships on Nov. 1 with a thrilling, slam-dunk win at Saturday’s Class 4A state race.
Young used his trusty kick to separate himself from the field down the stretch at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco and pull out the improbable win. Powered by his strong final push, Young won the meet in a blazing 15 minutes, 18 seconds, the second-fastest time ever run on the 5-kilometer course.
Young, along with running mate, senior Aiden Irish, who finished ninth, helped the Mustangs claim the fourth-place team trophy with 172 points. Irish, who won last month’s Kingco championships, finished the race in 15:47.
Mead won the team championship with 98 points, the program’s 21st straight state title.
But the story of the meet was Young’s tide-turning kick.
Just like at bi-districts in Seattle Nov. 1, Young’s state race plan was to hold his own until the home stretch and then turn on the afterburners.
“He’s got a great finish, a good kick,” marveled Redmond coach Denis Villeneuve. “The plan was just to stay with the lead group as long as he could, and if he had a kick, to use it. And he did.”
Villeneuve noted that the level-headed Young is taking his championship win in stride, which is often difficult for young athletes.
“I’m very proud of him,” Villeneuve said. “He ran a great race, and he’s just a great kid and he’s really calm, cool and collected. He doesn’t have a big head right now and really appreciates how fortunate he was.”
Looking back at Young’s run to glory, it is shocking how quickly Young developed into one of the state’s premiere runners.
Last year at the state meet, he ran the course in 17:05, good for a middle-of-the-pack 46th-place finish.
The turning point for Young, according to his coach, was last fall’s 4A Kingco League Championships, where he broke out with a third-place finish.
“Last year he was a sophomore and he ran third at Kingco (with a personal-best 16:12) and surprised himself,” Villeneuve remembered. “This fall when he started he knew he was one of the better runners in the state, and that helped.”
Villeneuve also cited the fact that when Young was a freshman, he was required to run with the junior high kids, who did not pose much of a challenge. The next year as a sophomore, he could finally compete with those already much faster than him.
“His sophomore year, he ran track with me at the high school and ran a 4:17 mile,” Villeneuve said. “He gained a lot of confidence in that process.”
Although the Mustangs will lose three seniors, including Irish, the team captain, there is still plenty to be excited about for next fall.
Young will return next year as a senior and will have an opportunity to lead the Mustangs to another state trophy, in addition to an encore golden performance in Pasco.
“I always get excited for the next season right away,” Villeneuve admitted. “We have some young kids still, and I think we have a pretty solid team with Miles Hille (a sophomore who finished 43rd in 16:24) and Mack returning.”
REDMOND BOYS FINISHERS
1, Mack Young, Jr., 15:18
9, Aiden Irish, Sr., 15:47
43, Miles Hille, Soph., 16:24
81, Will Young, Jr., 16:51
104, Tyler Dougherty, Sr., 17:12
110, Colin Neff, Sr., 17:18
113, Alec Surynt, Jr., 17:24.