Speiker wins second state title

Brent Baker/staff photo
Oroville High School’s Sierra Speiker stands atop the medal podium after running to her second state cross country title in three seasons.

PASCO – Distance runners are their own breed, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Sierra Speiker’s first words after winning her second Class 1B/2B state cross country title in three years were self-critical.

The Oroville junior, who won her first championship as a freshman and took second last year, pulled away to a 10 second victory over Anna Henry of Northwest Christian (Colbert) with a time of 18:58.4.

Of course, the battle isn’t just against the other runners, but against oneself, and Speiker wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“I don’t know what it was,” she said. “It was hard. I definitely felt better at regionals… I was hoping to PR, but that didn’t work out. My first two miles were too fast.”

Her best 5k time of 18:19 came on the same course two years ago, when as a freshman Speiker upset defending state champ Morgan Willcox. Brimming with confidence after beating Willcox in a mid-season race that year, she ran that race aggressively and clocked that time because she needed to.

This time around, Henry stuck with her through the first half of the race, and Speiker’s unwillingness to let her take the lead led to the overly-quick early pace.

“I heard her coming and sped up a little,” Speiker said. “I made sure she wasn’t going to pass me, and a little after the two-mile she started to fall back. That might have been it; I think I pushed the first mile too much because after that I was dead. The second mile really got me; it was ridiculous.”

“She did go out a bit fast,” said Oroville coach Doug Kee. “But most races she’s out there by herself. The last few weeks in practice we’ve been working on speed-type things, changing her pace during a run so that she can respond better when she races people at her level.

“So I was happy to see that she did that.”

Kee said that as a Class B runner it can be hard to find elite competition, which was one reason the team scheduled meets in Spokane and Richland this year.

“It’s important to learn how to race, and not just run,” he said. “She’s not going to be in high school B forever. Just learning how to react when you have a bunch of really top-caliber athletes takes experiencing it for yourself.

“So I was pleased with today, maybe more than she was. She reacted very well to the race today. And, boy, she’s been excited all week.”

Speiker said it was different running as the heavy state title favorite as opposed to coming “out of nowhere” as a freshman.

“That first one I was really happy. I was really surprised,” she said. “My freshman year I was all over it; I’m not sure what my deal was last year (when Willcox turned the tables in the championship race).

“Today I was surprised when I heard (Henry) behind me. Maybe I shouldn’t have been; when my dad told me about her time last week I was shocked. But it helps to have someone push you, definitely.”

Speiker’s run also earned her an invitation to the Nike Border Clash. She plans on not playing basketball this winter, as she has the past two years, to concentrate on running and prepare for track in the spring.

“I’m going to run over the winter, training with my dad,” Speiker said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to enter about a race a month.”

The Hornets also were racing as a team, as their runner-up finish at regionals qualified the whole squad to race. Oroville, which lost the regional title to Lake Roosevelt by one point a week ago, beat out the Raiders in team scoring by 42 points this time around.

Lisa Hartvig (45th, 24:02.4), Callie Barker (48th, 24:27.6), Aya Cruspero (26:06.7) and Celene Cisneros (59th, 28:17.2) made sure there was no repeat of their regional disappointment as, even without Speiker’s contribution, the Hornets had the Raiders’ number.

“The (team) goal was to beat LR after what happened last week,” Kee said. “We had certain people we were supposed to keep an eye out for. I was too busy yelling to see how we were doing, but they all seemed to push pretty well. So I’m happy.”

Barker is state Wendy’s High School Heisman finalist

OROVILLE – High school seniors fill out so many scholarship applications that sometimes they’re the last ones to know if they received anything.

That was Callie Barker’s reaction once she found out she was a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman award, which announced its state champions on Monday, Nov. 5. Ten boys and ten girls statewide were on the finalist list.

The state finalist list was released more than a week before Barker realized she was on the finalists’ list. She didn’t end up winning the state award, but being on the list of finalists wasn’t bad.

“I was just filling out a bunch of scholarship applications,” she said. “I didn’t even really know about the national competition. Lisa (Hartvig’s) mom was congratulating me and I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’

“My dad thought it was pretty cool and my mom was just kind of freaking out.”

The Wendy’s High School Heisman culminates with one boy and one girl from each state entering the national competition, with a $10,000 award going to the winner’s school in their names. State finalists, as Barker was, receive a Bronze medal, Heisman and a Wendy’s gift card.

The award focuses on academics, athletics and community service.

The Washington State winners were Madalyn Seidl of Castle Rock and Ryan Baumgart of DeSales.

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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