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Lee and O’Hara lead the charge at Hartman Park

  • Written by Derek Johnson

Lee and O’Hara might sound like a law firm, but it’s actually the name of a dynamic duo for the Woodinville cross country team. Last Wednesday at Hartman Park in Redmond, freshman Nell O’Hara (20:04) and sophomore Elyn Lee (20:06) finished 3rd and 4th respectively in the Kingco 4A meet.

They might have finished even higher, had they not been subverted by a course that snaked through the woods with abrupt turns.

DSC 3618Elyn Lee (left) and Nell O’Hara push themselves toward the finish line. (Photo by Derek Johnson)“There are definitely more complex loops to it,” O’Hara said.  

“This is our first time running at this course, so it’s brand-new [for the Falcon team]” Lee said. “We didn’t know where we were going so we took a wrong turn. But we still ended up doing well.”

But even the unplanned detour didn’t sour the afternoon.

“It might have cost us a little bit,” Lee said with a cheerful smile. “But now we know!”

On the boys side, junior Jordan Kauffman was the top runner for the Falcons at 18:19. He finished in 15th place, behind first place finisher Dereje Himbago of Redmond who had a time of 16:09. Woodinville was competing against Redmond and Newport on this afternoon.

“I’m on track to beat a lot of my personal goals I made for the year,” Kauffman said. “We have a little rest period after today, and then we’ve got some big invitationals later in October. And then I want to get around 16:30 to qualify for State.”

When asked if he strayed from the course like his teammates, he shook his head. “I stayed with the top runners who knew the course, so I was okay,” he said.

Woodinville coach Frank Shuck, who was suddenly sporting a white beard reminiscent of Sean Connery, gave his outlook on the meet. He said top runners Luke Houser and Melissa Phung were held out due to illness. He stated his intention of having his team peak at the right time – at season’s end. 

“These are league meets and they’re important,” Shuck said. “But they’re progressing to championships. That’s why we did these things.”

Shuck paused and pointed to some Falcons who were posing for a group photo. Their arms were slung casually around each other.

“I mean, look at them,” Shuck said. “They are brothers and sisters out here and they are family. This is a really good group of runners. Most of them are high-caliber and they have great camaraderie.

“Those two, Elyn and Nell, they run side-by-side,” Shuck said. “They are the top two young runners on the team. You have Libby Roberdeau, who is another seasoned runner, and we’re going to get her to the next level. And then Jolie Bailey and another couple girls are vying for the top five spots... And for the boys, Jordan is going to get to State. Greg Tobias and Luke [Houser] will do that as well. We’re progressing, racing ourselves into shape.

“Four more weeks until the championships,” he said. “That’s when it’s going to happen!” 

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