Local High School Cross Country Runners Soar!

Local high school XC runners live, train, and race in an unbelievably competitive and dominant area. In a recent two year span, Whatcom and Skagit counties sent over 10 high school runners on to NCAA Division I running programs! This area consistently places teams and individuals atop podiums statewide and beyond. 

This year at the State meet, Bellingham, Sehome & Squalicum finished 1-3, sweeping the 2A podium for the men while Sehome and Anacortes topped the women’s podium, going 1-2. In addition, we had a number of standout individuals seeing the heights of podiums between 1A, 2A, and 3A.

We asked some local high school cross country standouts/runners to share some advice they learned from their high school coaches that helped them thrive. Great food for thought for any inspiring competitor!

Andrew Luce/Lynden Christian High School 

“One thing one my coaches, Josh Schmitt, always said is, “The brain will tell you to quit long before your body needs to stop.” This has helped in races and workouts when my brain is screaming at me to stop, but I know my body can do it.”

“One other piece of advice I’d like others to know is to keep it fun. When running isn’t fun you’ll want to quit. This happened to me and the best thing was talking to coaches about it. That changed my perspective. I’d like kids no matter what level to appreciate the sport and the community that surrounds it.”

Chase Bartlett/Squalicum High School –

“The advice that has really changed my approach to running has been, “Never be satisfied.” As someone who runs mainly for the competition, I have learned that as you progress and get faster you can never get to a point where you feel it is enough. And although it has become frustrating at many moments in life, it has kept me motivated and shaped me as a better person not only as a runner but as a growing man. The way running has changed my life and my fellow teammates at Squalicum has truly been amazing. With living in such a competitive and close town, it has really pushed me to become my best for myself and to beat the other runner I go against on a weekly basis. I’m very lucky i’ve been placed into a scenario like this and I plan to cherish it for the rest of my high school career.” 

Jessica Frydenlund/Anacortes High School –

“My freshman and sophomore years me and some of the other girls on the team struggled a bit with our nutrition and eating habits. The coaches were super positive about always talking to us about it, giving us a book to read that helped and providing snacks for us at practice and meet.  It’s made a big difference in meets and at practice.  Our mantra this season has been to “remember the three R’s”;  rehydrate, refuel, repair!”

Marcella Leita/Sehome High School –

“While I’ve learned so much from my coaches over the years, something that has really stuck with me and helped me in so many races is to believe that there is always another gear that you can go to towards the end of a race even when it feels like you can’t, and to know that you are stronger than you think. This has helped me especially when it gets challenging both physically and mentally in the middle and end of a race, and I’ve found such positive results when I believe this and put it into action.”

Zaya Smith/Bellingham High School –

Zaya shared that her coaches often told the team to “protect their talent and stick to the plan”. Those words really resonated with her.

She said that “protecting their talent” basically means to listen to your body and know when to push and when to take a break. It also means “don’t do stupid things and hurt yourself”. 😉

Marissa Guthrie/Bellingham High School –

“My advice would be to make sure you are always hydrated! Having enough water makes a big difference in how well you perform. Drinking electrolytes is also important and making sure you get enough iron in your diet. Having a positive mindset is huge too. Your body will do what you set your mind to.”

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