Selah cross country runners find their groove as district, state approach

It’s been a solid start to the season for the Selah High cross country teams, but the fun is just beginning.

With the CWAC district meet just a couple weeks away, followed by the 2A state meet on Nov. 6, the Vikings are beginning to hit their stride. Led by senior Cooper Quigley and junior Eric Swedin, the boys team has the potential to be a dominant force heading into the biggest meets of the year.

Courtesy athletic.net

Quigley, who recently committed to the University of Arizona, has been one of the Valley’s most consistent performers the past three seasons, challenging the best runners in the state at all classifications every time out.

On Oct. 9 at Lakewood High School in Arlington, Quigley completed the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 10 seconds, good enough for fifth overall in the Men’s Elite race.

Swedin also had a strong showing at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational, placing sixth in the Varsity Gold race with a time of 16:02. Senior teammate Sam Anderson clocked in at 17:07, while fellow seniors Jonathan Orozco and Jared Briggs finished in 17:27 and 17:49, respectively. 

Sophomore Nathan Shipley also had a strong showing at the event, coming in at 17:48. Junior Moon Thompson is currently in the seventh varsity spot, earning a time of 18:29.

“This team has really responded this season and they have shown that they are ready to compete with the best teams in the state,” co-head coach Kelly Mattson said prior to the Oct. 9 event. “We’ve been racing against some of the best teams in the Northwest all season and have really answered the bell.”

Mattson, who shares the head coaching duties with Shane Polley, said the work the Vikings put in this summer has been critical to their development.

“If you put in the mileage over the summer, that sets the table for success during the season,” Mattson said. “Both the boys and girls teams invested a lot of time to prepare for this season, and as a result, they are heading in a very positive direction.”

The young girls team — led by Mattson’s daughter, Kieryann — also has been reaping the rewards of their hard work in the offseason, recently earning a first-place trophy at an event in Connell. Mattson, a junior, placed 23rd overall in a time of 23:15 to lead the Vikings to the top spot among 2A teams.

“The Connell course was a little tricky, but we all worked together and built each other up,” she said. “We could have struggled, but we ended up winning the 2A division, which was really exciting.”

Joining Mattson in the varsity lineup most of the season have been junior Avery Sarett and sophomores Abby Huri, Yobi Ruark and Isabella Escamilla. Junior Avery Godfrey and sophomore Phoebe Topper are also in the mix as the Vikings prepare for the home stretch.

“We’re a really young team, so we’re just focusing on taking it one step at a time,” Kieryann Mattson said. “We definitely think we can make it to state, but we also know it’s going to take time to build up to that level.”

Mattson added that, regardless of results, she is proud to be part of such a close-knit program.

“We’re truly a family,” she said. “We have something that you don’t find in most programs, and it’s really special to be on a team that genuinely cares about each other.”

Her father echoed those sentiments, saying that students gravitate to the program because of that positive atmosphere.

“We don’t sell athleticism; we sell the family component,” said Kelly Mattson, who has 52 runners (25 boys, 27 girls) on the roster this fall. “We spend a lot of time together outside of running and school, and that has helped us develop a culture that people want to be a part of year in and year out.”

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