PASCO PASCO — Sierra Speiker of Oroville put an exclamation point on her running career with her third state 2B title in four years.
The runner covered the 5K route at Sun Willows Golf Course unchallenged, finishing in 18 minutes, 20.41 seconds. That was 24 seconds faster than her best-ever at state when she won as a freshman.
“I was really pleased with bringing down the time,” Speiker said.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. She was named Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Athlete of the Week for Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. Oroville threw her a parade on her return Sunday.
She attributed her improvement this year to a change in attitude and training.
“I went from doing 30 to 40 miles a week to doing 70 miles over the summer,” she said. “I continued it on during the season. My coach, Doug Kee, worked with me on speed and interval work during practice.”
Speiker, a goal-oriented runner and a senior, moved from winning races to improving her times to attract college coaches.
“I really wanted to get some PRs (personal records) this year,” Speiker said. “I really wanted to improve because colleges were looking at me. I had different goals this year than in other years.”
Speiker did not reach her goal of a sub 18-minute time. But considering it was a grass course compared to a hard, track-like surface and there was no one to push the senior, she ran “really well,” Kee said.
“The closest person behind her was 40 seconds back,” Kee said. “She was in front right from the start.
“When there is no one pushing you the whole way, that does make it tough.”
“It’s not like she ran slow. She ran very, very well. She beat her best time on that course and was well under what she ran last year.
“She ran an excellent race.”
At state, she ran 18:44.8 as a freshman to win the title, 19:25 as a sophomore when she finished second and 18:58.4 to win last year.
To put her performance in perspective, Speiker would have finished seventh in the 4A race (maybe faster with other runners able to push her?), fourth in 3A, third in 2A and would have won the 1A title by 12 seconds.
She was the 11th-fastest girl in the state among all schools.
This year, she produced career bests of 16:43 for 2.8 miles, 17:10.4 for 3 miles and 18:11 for 5K (12th-fastest time in the state at all levels), which was on a hard surface at Colville.
At state, Speiker roared through her first mile in 5:30, about where she wanted to be.
“I was hoping for more of a push from other people,” she said. “I slowed down for my next mile.”
Not knowing exactly her time, she thought the chance for a personal best at state might be out of reach.
But a strong final mile got her wish.
“I was very excited,” she said. “I was happy to get my PR Saturday. It was nice racing weather, that’s for sure. It was sunny at the start, one of the nicest runs at state. The sun was out for my race, then it pretty much went away.”
Speiker, who jogged the course a day earlier with her father, Don Speiker, described the course as having rolling hills. “Not like giant hills, like little rolls.”
Speiker is weighing her options for a college degree in physical therapy.
“I imagine there will be quite a few colleges contacting her in the next couple weeks,” Kee said.
One possibility is Eastern Washington University, where Speiker’s brother, Zack Speiker, is studying criminal justice. Former Hornet teammate Catie Arrigoni is there, too, competing in cross country and track.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she said. “I’m still looking.”
For now, Speiker, 17, is gearing up for the Nike Border Clash on Nov. 23 in Beaverton, Ore., where top state-finishers from Oregon and Washington compete. Speiker qualified by winning the 2B state title.
“She really wants to compete against those big schools,” Kee said.
“It’s going to be run at night this year on Saturday instead of Sunday morning,” Speiker said. “They will have the course lit up, which is pretty cool I think.”
The coach said there’s more to Speiker than just a runner.
“She not only works her tail off but has a great attitude,” Kee said. “She is also in the running for valedictorian. She’s a hard- working kid. They don’t come along very often. It’s been a pleasure to work with her.”
Other 1B/2B notables
Republic freshman Shania Graham became the school’s first-ever girl to make the all-state team by finishing eighth with a time of 19:57.25.
“She ran a very smart and gutsy race,” coach Ed Forsman said.
It was the first time this year she’d broken the 20-minute mark, Forsman said.
Senior Claire McIntyre of Republic, a four-time state competitor, finished 27th with 21:58.63.
Sophomore Alexis Walker of Curlew also ran for the Tigers.
For the boys team, junior Duncan Forsman of Republic finished eighth and made the all-state team for the second time. Joining him on the team was sophomore Spencer Reiss of Curlew, who was 12th.
Republic finished seventh as a team.
The Bridgeport girls, none of whom are seniors, were the first Fillies team to compete only from Bridgeport at state. There was an earlier Bridgeport/Waterville girls cross country team, athletic director Rick Halterman said.
“The good news is my three seniors (Liam Daily, Morgan Ott and Erik Ellis) had their best races of the season,” Liberty Bell coach Craig Herlihy said. “They were bummed missing the podium by one point.”
Tri-Cities Prep nipped the Liberty Bell boys by a point for fourth place and a state trophy.
“The boys goal all year was to be in the Top 5, and they accomplished that,” Herlihy said. “There is no doubt in my mind they felt a little disappointed, but you can’t control the other teams at state.”
The boys team reached state the last four years, each time finishing better. It was 13th, ninth, seventh and fifth.
State 1A runners
Omak’s Sam Goble was 20th in the state 1A boys race, finishing with his best time ever, 16:56.2, in the 5K.
He was the second Caribou Trail League runner in the meet.
“He was at state to race hard and that’s exactly what he did,” coach Melody Pecha said. “I love to see a season end that way for an athlete.”
Also running for Omak were Morgan O’Dell, 47th in 17:19.9, and Diana Montes, 111th in 23:02.42. It was her first time at state.
Team and local results
Boys 1B/2B team scores: 1, Northwest Christian-Colbert 68. 2, Asotin 101. 3, Northwest Christian-Lacey 105. 4, Tri-Cities Prep 120. 5, Liberty Bell 121. Others: 7, Republic 166. 15, Lake Roosevelt 377.
Individuals: 1, Chandler Teigen, Asotin, 15:52.99. 6, Liam Daily, L.B., 16:447.74. 7, Ben Klemmeck, L.B., 16:50.01. 8, Duncan Forsman, Rep., 16:54.20. 12, Spencer Reiss, Rep., 17:02.83. 18, Willy Duguay, L.B., 17:14.74. 24, Oren Cox, B.P., 17:32.78. 42, Morgan Ott, L.B., 17:56.76. 45, Taylor Campbell, Rep., 18:01.30. 46, Kieran Poore, Rep., 18:03.12. 70, Josiah Klemmeck, L.B., 18:40.09. 81, Ray Yazzie, L.R., 18:59.40. 88, Dominick Cotton, L.R., 19:26.45. 91, Rowan Davis, Rep., 19:36.64. 95, Coltin Williams, L.R., 19:58.52. 98, Erik Ellis, L.B., 20:03.87. 99, Carter Dornfeld, L.B., 20:04.69. 101, Cole Chamberlin, Rep., 20:08.97. 102, Brandon Desautel, L.R., 20:10.84. 106, Cameron Leonard, Rep., 20:17.47. 109, Jerry Palmer, L.R., 20:19.42. 114, Robert George, L.R., 21:13.70. 119, Daniel Campobasso, L.R., 22:06.91.
Girls 1B/2B team scores: 1, Northwest Christian-Lacey 45. Others: 8, Bridgeport 228.
Individuals: 1, Sierra Speiker, Oroville, 18:20.41. 8, Shania Graham, Rep., 19:57.25. 22, Ashley Palmer, L.R., 21:42.97. 27, Claire McIntyre, Rep., 21:58.63. 42, Alexis Walker, Rep., 22:48.38. 43, Rhiannon Easter, Pat., 22:49.18. 45, Alexia Hanway, L.R., 22:55.63. 57, Letty Trejo, B.P., 23:46.34. 59, Anabel Valdovinos, B.P., 24:12.18. 68, Anai Palacios, B.P., 26:24.76. 69, Elsie Valdovinos, B.P., 26:25.47. 70, Maddy Varrelman, B.P., 28:59.53.