Men’s Cross Country goes extra mile to support all athletes

Steve Willits – the voice of the Hawks and Sound Live Sports Network.

Steve Willits – the voice of the Hawks and Sound Live Sports Network.

By Steve Willits

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If you attend a Mountlake Terrace High School sporting event, there is a very good chance that you will see Jack Pearce and Peter Kidane. The top two runners on the MTHS boys cross country team seem to be everywhere!! I see them and many of their teammates standing in the front row of football games; they are right in the middle of all of the Rowdy Rooter action at basketball games and I ran into them at a girls’ soccer game a couple weeks ago. Jack was even a referee during the Girls’ intrasquad game at Jam Session last November. Both are very active in ASB as well as a few other school Clubs: Peter is the President of the Black Student Union (BSU) and Jack is a Media Officer in Key Club (not to mention a handful of other groups).

Jack and Peter are always cheering for one of the Hawks teams. “I think we both coincidentally decided that we wanted to go see every sport compete” said Jack. “I enjoy going to games because I feel a huge amount of pride in our school and community and feel that’s a great way to rep it, it’s also a lot of fun just to jump around, yell and mess around with my friends. My favorite thing is probably just going nuts for other people and seeing them compete at what they love to do”.

Cheering teams on vocally isn’t the only thing that they do to show school pride, a couple of weeks ago after a Friday night MTHS football game at Edmonds Stadium, Pearce and Kidane along with Cross Country teammates Wyatt Alleman, Chris Baumgartner, Greg Bowman and Taron Castleton were joined by their fellow MTHS students Lili Nguyen, Will Khadivi and Micah Jackson to help clean up the Terrace side of the bleachers so that the school district janitors wouldn’t have to pick up after everyone. “It only took about five minutes to clean up our entire section! A small amount of people can do a lot!” said Khadivi.

It may have only required a small amount of time but it made me feel a large amount of Terrace pride knowing that we have students at our school that show consideration for others. A good deed that should be recognized and I really hope that other MTHS students also volunteer and help clean up at future events.

I had my very own Jack and Peter support moment this past summer. I ran the Tour de Terrace 5K Fun Run back in July, a fundraising race that started and ended at the high school. My objective that morning was to set my personal record and run my fastest 5K ever while Jack and Peter were using the race as a “warm up” as they were conserving their energy for the larger and more prestigious Seattle Torchlight Run that was taken place later that night. Coincidentally my fastest speed is about the same as their warm up speed and therefore we were never more than about 50 yards apart throughout the run.

As I was closing in on the finish line and looking within myself for motivation, I noticed that Jack and Peter were both ahead of me by a short distance. I decided that my motivation would be to pass and finish ahead of them at the finish line, just so that I could say that I was victorious over the two best runners at MTHS, even if they weren’t running very fast by their own standards. I figure that will embellish the story over time, especially if I ever have children and tell them about the moment I defeated a couple of Wesco Champions.

After the race, I was bending over trying to catch my breath when I noticed two people standing over me, Jack and Peter had walked over to congratulate me on a strong finish. They didn’t need to do it, they could have crossed the finish and kept walking straight ahead but both of them decided to acknowledge my efforts and to show their support. It was a kind gesture but not a surprise as I’ve seen these guys display tremendous sportsmanship on other occasions over the past year. It is Jack and Peter and that is who they are, they love to support others.

It also reminded me of one of my favorite MTHS sports scenes of the 2012-2013 school year when I watched Jack finish running the 3200 Meter at the WesCo District Finals. As soon as he completed his race he went over to where the finishers exit the track and shook the hand of each of his competitors as they walked away. There were around 20 runners and yet he was the only one doing that. I asked Jack about that moment and others similar to it. “I always try to congratulate everyone after a race” said Pearce. “I know what they go through and how hard they work all season and on that day. They all pushed themselves very hard and it’s cool to be around so many people like that. A lot of people seem to appreciate it too so it feels good to make people happy.”

I decided last week that it was time for me to attend my first ever Cross Country meet at MTHS. I wanted to support Jack, Peter and all of the other runners that do such a great job of rooting for other athletes. I also wanted to see for myself what a conference championship cross country team looks like.

Last year’s MTHS Boys’ Cross Country team won the school’s first league Championship in over 45 years and they have a strong chance to do it again this year. Jack and Peter are the two fastest runners but they aren’t doing it alone as they have a solid team that includes Wyatt Alleman, Chris Baumgartner, Nathan Sparks and Conrad Bratz, Nathan Sparks, Wyatt Allemann, Nick Leidig, Conrad Bratz, Braeden Sims, Mattias Kirk, Jason Ernest, Jason Shevenko, Daniel Medhane, Matt Jenson, Greg Bowman, Taron Castleton, Jaden Yackley, Thomas Tekle, Kyle Rhodes, Josh Liddell, Muhammad Shaharyar, Jake Broulette Mac Siemens, Connor and Jason O’Connell, and Nick Gifford.

This is one of the best teams at MTHS and yet they seem to be flying under the radar with their accomplishments going somewhat unnoticed in a world where sports like basketball, football, baseball and soccer get more attention and notoriety. It was my turn to see it for myself.

The meet that I attended last week was a three school contest as Kamiak and Lynnwood were also participating. One of the first things I noticed was that the crowd was made up mostly of family members and junior varsity runners that had just completed their race a few minutes earlier. There were only a few students in attendance. I asked Peter if it bothers him that more students don’t attend and he said it doesn’t and that he understands. “I don’t expect them to show up because it’s cold, we’re always running away and it lasts less than 20 minutes so no, I don’t think twice (about it) when I don’t see fans”.

I wasn’t the only attendee that was learning about cross county meets. I walked over to the scorer’s table where the runners have to check in after they finish the race and I found two people volunteering at the table for the very first time: MTHS teacher/basketball coach Nalin Sood along with 2007 MTHS graduate Karen Troske, who had shown up mainly to cheer for the team because her fiancé David Whalen (also an MTHS alum) is an assistant coach for the Hawks. Sood and Troske were struggling with their temporary responsibilities so I figured that three novices would be better than two and I also ended up assisting at the table. Not quite the surplus of resources that you often have at a football or basketball game but as long as volunteers step up, everything seems to go smoothly.

Right before the race started, Jack walked over to me, shook my hand and thanked me for coming (he did this at the end of the race too). I watched him do this to a few other folks as well and he also made it a point to thank one of the younger JV runners after the race whom he had heard cheering his name when he ran by him on the course. Something I’m not used to seeing at other sporting events but then again, Jack doesn’t play all of the other sports.

The race itself was enjoyable and there was plenty of energy as the crowd offered plenty of encouragement as the runners went by. Jack ended up finishing in 2nd place, four seconds behind a Kamiak runner. Immediately after the race was over, Jack walked over and congratulated the winner who was a recent transfer from California so Jack also made it a point to introduce himself. I should also point out that Terrace as a team finished in 2nd place behind Kamiak however this was a non-conference meet that doesn’t count in the standings and the Hawks are just starting to get warmed up for their main WesCo 3A competition which will more than likely be Shorewood, Oak Harbor and Glacier Peak.

If you are an athlete at Mountlake Terrace, know that Jack, Peter and other members of the Cross Country team will more than likely be attending your games and cheering you on. Perhaps you can even show your appreciation for them by turning out for one of their meets and know that when you do, you will be watching a team contending for a WesCo Championship and a team that positively represents MTHS, no matter what they are doing. Go Hawks!!