Given their first chance to run as a team on its home course, the Aberdeen boys cross country team worked as a unit while fending off an Evergreen 2A rival Wednesday afternoon at Makarenko Park in Cosmopolis.
Under a near-perfect sunny sky, the Bobcats ran together to build up confidence for the upcoming season to knock off Centralia, 22-33, in the boys 3.1-mile race. Neither Aberdeen nor Centralia fielded a full girls team and the four girls ran with the boys.
“Today, our main goal was to get everyone to (earn personal records) and get our 1-through-7 runners closer together,” AHS senior Poli Baltazar said. “This is our home course, so we wanted to get the team together. This was our first 5-kilometer to run competitively and it was good for everyone. Everyone knows where they are and what we need to work on.”
Last season, the Aberdeen boys went through the league meet schedule undefeated and qualified as a team for the state 2A meet. Unfortunately, a tough day at state overall as a team ended the season on a sour note.
On Wednesday, Baltazar, the state runner-up last year, brought teammate Frank Book with him to the front of the pack and the two ran together for nearly the entire race. Baltazar and AHS head coach Sherrie Green noted that Book is capable of staying up with Baltazar — and needed a race like Wednesday’s to prove it to himself.
The rest of the team was focused on running together in just the first of only two home meets this season. With three graduated seniors gone from last year’s team, there were places to solidify as the season heats up.
“My main goal was to get Frank together and have him run under 17 minutes, so he can have confidence to run that and run it consistently,” Baltazar added. “We have a chance this year to have guys step up and replace the guys who aren’t here. Last year, we were ranked fifth in the state and we really didn’t finish well. We want to get back (to state) as a team and compete, not just show up and waste numbers.”
The duo stayed together and paced the entire field. Only at the final turns did Baltazar pull away just enough from Book, winning the race in 16:47. Book finished second, one second behind Baltazar, and five seconds ahead of Centralia’s Corey Richardson. Centralia’s Tim Ricker (17:37) and Aberdeen’s Joseph Bowley (17:51) rounded out the top-five finishers.
Centralia’s Carrey Larson won the girls at 19:17, while Aberdeen’s lone runner of the day, Selena Alvarado, took fourth at 25:35.
“This race, we had some team goals they wanted to pull up and accomplish,” Green said. “Building confidence was big and they did what they were asked to do. There is always room for improvement. (With the girls), we had one sick and Selena ran well today. We’re short overall and we’re begging girls to come out and run. If any girls are reading this, we’d love to have you.”
On Wednesday, Aberdeen hits the road to take on River Ridge in a league tri-meet.
Bobcats 22, Tigers 33
Aberdeen — 1. Poli Baltazar, 16:47. 2. Frank Book, 16:48. 5. Joseph Bowley, 17:51. 6. Sam Stipic, 18:31. 8. Aaron Martinez, 18:54. 11. Brady Green, 20:19. 12. Uriel Espino, 20:38.
Centralia — 3. Corey Richardson, 16:53. 4. Tim Ricker, 17:37. 7. Nathan Winkle, 18:33. 9. Colton Buster, 19:15. 10. Connor Simons, 19:24. 18. Diante Spears, 23:46.
Bobcats Inc, Tigers Inc.
1. Carrey Larson (C), 19:17. 2. Serena Wallace (C), 21:31. 3. Mady Coombs (C), 24:43. 4. Selena Alvarado (A), 25:35.