To say the Blaine cross country team is rebuilding is an understatement. Longtime head coach Carey Bacon said it’s the smallest team he’s ever had, with 6 girls and 8 boys. It’s also a very young team, with no seniors and mostly underclassmen.
Despite the small turnout, Bacon said the team has gotten off to a good start.
“We’re improving already, and I think that will be the main goal for the season,” he said.
Early on, it looks as though sophomore Parker Morris will lead the boys. He had a strong season last year, and was one of six boys who went to the state tournament. Junior Hillary Kiele will likely lead the girls this season. “We’d love to see her make it to state,” Bacon said.
Standouts Tom Bradley, Eddie Fontes and Daniel Thorpe graduated last year. Bradley earned second at the 1A state championship last year, and Fontes placed eighth.
With 13 or 14 runners, Blaine will be “dwarfed by the other schools,” Bacon said.
Some schools, such as Sehome, will field upwards of 100 athletes on their cross country team this season.
Most of the big teams are from areas with a strong running community. With its multitude of races, running clubs and a large population of runners, Bellingham fits that bill.
“There’s no question there’s a running culture in Bellingham. There’s a supportive environment and a lot of interest, and their athletes run year round,” Bacon said. “I’d like to see our team get bigger, but you work with what you’ve got. There’s some good talent on the team, and we’re going to work hard to build on that.”
The Borderites will travel to Lynden September 11 for their first meet of the season. Blaine will host its only home meet September 25.