ILWACO, Wash. - Ilwaco cross-country coach Joe Williams is all smiles as he drives his van to keep up with nine boys and six girls working out in preparation for the 2003 season and the continuation of their dynasty in the sport.

"The boys have a goal of repeating as Trico-League and District IV champions and of finishing at least as high as last season's team did at state," Williams says. Considering the Fishermen finished fifth at the 2A level, the best finish in school history in that classification, the goals are lofty ones.

Ilwaco has the work ethic, attitude, and running ability to meet or exceed those standards. Derek Duffy and Garrett Binion, seniors with talent and state competition under their belts, are leading by example according to Williams and have put in solid summer work.

Ilwaco Cross Country glance2002 results: boys Trico-League and District IV champions, fifth at State, girls fourth at District

Key players lost: Nate Appel, Eddie Guelfi, Karla Parsons

Key returnees: boys Derek Duffy, Garrett Binion, Jordan Williams, John Hayes, Shaun Peterson, Dylan Wirkkala, Scott Fagerland, and Mike Huitt; girls Kari Knutzen and Erin Knick

Outlook: super sophs and senior leaders should finish at or near the top at state 2A meet and need a semi-truck to bring home their hardware, girls could send two to the big show as wellThe super sophomore sextet of Jordan Williams, John Hayes, Shaun Peterson, Dylan Wirkkala, Scott Fagerland and Mike Huitt add depth. Freshman Luke Jensen is also a serious runner and will do well, says Williams.

"If we avoid injuries we should do great," the coach predicts. Last season Binion and Hayes were unable to finish the season because of injury. "All the guys have worked extremely hard this summer and are doing what it takes to excel." Williams concludes. Ilwaco boys have the numbers and the desire to push each other in practice and to encourage during the meets.

The girls are led by senior Kari Knutzen. "She is taking charge and doing whatever is needed to make the girls team better," the coach says. He adds, "Erin Knick could easily join Knutzen as being one of the top five runners in our District."

Amber Hall, Jillian Guelfi, Elaina Erol, and Meredith Jensen all have experience as runners and round out the squad that could be in the top three at District, says Williams.

"La Center returns all their runners from last year's District champion team and our District only sends one girls team to State." The top 20 individual boys and top five individual girls from District IV qualify for State.

Get the bus ready now as Williams hums the tune "Tradition." Ilwaco looks to be a cinch to send a ton of competitors to the 2A State cross country meet Nov. 8 and with a few breaks to go with their hard work, the boys could win it all.

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