PASCO, Wash. — Ilwaco runner Daniel Quintana put together his own equation for the WIAA state cross-country meet Saturday: Preparation + strategy = victory.
It left the sophomore smiling broadly with a first-place medal, receiving congratulations from the other runners after a 15-minute, 55-second race, a little off his personal best over the 5,000-meter course.
With him on the podium was Daniel Whiting, who placed 15th and whose additional points helped Ilwaco boys to seventh place in the combined 1B/2B state team competition.
The Ilwaco girls girls placed sixth, sparked by senior Estella Sheldon, whose 13th-place finish with a time of 20:40 earned her a place on the podium.
Quintana said he wasn’t nervous.
“I started pretty well, letting the others lead,” he said. “There were about five people and I put myself in there. I knew I had a lot of energy — I had been well prepared and I slept well.”
The prior girls races had been runaway wins, but the roar from the crowd as the runners heads popped into sight at the top of the final hill signaled this would be different. One runner moved ahead of Quintana — but only briefly. “I just went for it,” he said. “It was now or never. I went ahead and I was obviously not going to look back. I crossed the line. It felt pretty good!”
He finished four seconds ahead of Trout Lake junior Justin Peck, who he credited for pushing him all the way. Northwest Christian’s Noah Phillips, who was second at state last year, placed fourth, helping his team win the first-place trophy. Quintana had lost to Phillips for the League championship then beat him at Districts.
Quintana’s success is the first individual first-place medal for cross-country students coached in the last dozen years or so by Sarah Taylor, who also coaches track.
She was delighted with Quintana’s success in his first year in the sport.
“It went so well,” she said. “He did what he planned to do and stayed relaxed. He has been working to race this way this season.”
Beyond the individual achievement, she was pleased at Whiting making the podium and senior Tristan Trudell placing 36th.
“Daniel ran well. He was very nervous but he did well,” she said. “Tristan ran a great race. He was smart. That was a great way to end his career for him.”
Colton McNabb, Logan Simonson, Brady Rasmussen and Logan Roush also ran.
In girls competition, the team from Pope John Paul II School placed first. Gabby Martin from Life Christian won in 17:57, some 85 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
Taylor had four seniors and three sophomores competing. Sheldon had the highest finish with fellow senior Alex Carper next at 20th. Emma Brundage, Tazlina Thomas, Nisa Mendoza, Kaytlenn Whelden and Daniela Mendez also ran.