Stokes sets new best time in Lakewood CC

LANGLEY — In just her second opportunity to do so, Lakewood junior Chelsea Stokes showed how much work she did in the offseason when she broke recent graduate Lacey Nation’s school record in the girls 5k.

Nation, a freshman this fall on Gonzaga University’s cross country team, set the record last fall at the state cross country meet and happened to be on hand at the South Whidbey Invitational Sept. 19 to watch her old teammate set a new school mark of 19:25.63.

“It’s refreshing to have alumni in the program who understand what it takes and are happy to see their record broken,” said Lakewood coach Jeff Sowards after the race.

For her part, Stokes was so dog-tired after finishing 10th in the extremely competitive Varsity Division I race, that she didn’t realize right away what she had accomplished. She found out that she had broken the school record “when I was alive after the race.”

Stokes’ 10th-place finish helped the Lakewood girls finish in eighth place overall as a team, putting them only behind Sehome among schools of the same size, and ahead of conference and postseason rivals like King’s (ninth) and Bellingham (10th). Sophomore Rachel Cundy was second for the team in a 19th-place finish and time of 19:54.12. Seniors Chelsea Sowards and Amber Burnell finished about 10 seconds on either side of the 21-minute mark, in 45th and 59th place.

Some personal best finishes on the boys side helped lead Lakewood to a seventh-place team showing. Senior Taylor Guske had a steady time, placing 18th with a time of 16:40. But his next five teammates all had personal bests of varying degree, with sophomore Avery Jensen showing the most dramatic improvement. After running a 5k time of 20:23 earlier in the week and a personal best of 19:44 the season before, Jensen dropped minutes from his time, coming in just a hair under 18 minutes to finish fifth for the Lakewood team and earn points.

Upperclassmen Chad Skiles, Trent Tresch and Nick Howe all shed about 10-15 seconds from personal bests they set late in the 2008 season.

Although Lakewood’s performances would have likely given them a team win in the Division II competition, the boys chose to challenge themselves, said Sowards.

“Jackson (who won) is 13th in the nation, so obviously it was a phenomenal field,” he said. “You know what? We had our choice to run in D-2 or D-1. We chose to take on the competition.”

Their South Whidbey hosts are a league rival of Lakewood’s, and the course will be the setting for the district meet Oct. 31.

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