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Westview sophomore races to the front, never looks back for Wildcat cross country

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview sophomore Irene Nagasaka took first overall against Beaverton and Liberty last week.

From across the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Center's vast spread of artificial turf soccer fields, one could hear the collective high-pitched shriek coming from inside the Westview girls cross country team's tent last October.

The outpouring of jubilation was the Wildcats' crowning moment, a communal exhilaration for finally knocking off Aloha by a slimline margin at the Metro League district championship and reaching the Class 6A state championship meet. The emotion, the pure joy, the deluge of hugs and happiness were what Westview chased all season and to see it fulfilled was nearly indescribable.

"Once we found out we were going to state, we screamed for like 10 minutes," Westview senior Isabelle Marcantuono said with a laugh. "It was just so exciting."

It was a sentiment so striking that Westview wants to relive the moment in 2017. With sophomore Irene Nagasaka sitting among the Metro League's best after a breakthrough freshman season and a strong senior class surrounding her, the Wildcats are in position to protect their state ticket from the likes of Aloha and Century.

"We want to make it to state, we're still going after that goal," Marcantuono said. "We lost some of our fast seniors, but we're trying to build it back up and get back to where we were. Everybody in Metro just keeps getting better and better. We go into our races wanting to put our best effort out and know that anyone can be good in a given race."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior Isabelle Marcantuono ran to a second place finish for the Wildcat girls cross country team.

On Sep. 20 at Westview High School, the Wildcats beat Liberty 20-53 and Beaverton 20-59 to even their Metro record to 2-2.

Nagasaka took first overall, running a 20-minute, 19-second race while Marcantuono ran a seasonal best 21:27 for second overall. The two teammates were followed in by senior Dierdre McKay (21:41) who finished third, senior Ellie Ruble (sixth overall), senior Monica Rivas (eighth overall) and sophomore Hailey Henstrom (23:02).

As Westview's pack leader, who oftentimes finds herself amongst elite runners like Sunset's Ember Stratton or Jesuit's Keely McCormick, Nagasaka said she looked around, surveyed the field and decided to set her own pace.

"I knew I had to be in front, so I just took off," Nagasaka said. "It was kind of hard keeping a high pace because I was the only one (at the front). That was hard for me, but I knew I had to keep it together and finish strong for my team. That kept me going."

"(Nagasaka) is the leader," Marcantuono added. "She's just so aggressive and she never gives up. She sets the mark for the team. She's usually out there (toward the front), so I tried to keep her in sight."

Though the race was on its home course, Nagasaka and Marcantuono said the Wildcats had never run the Westview High campus-based trek that traversed around the various athletic venues including the softball, baseball and football fields. The rain — deafening and constant just hours before — stopped 30 minutes before the race began, creating a clean, cool, cloudy atmosphere to run under.

Beaverton senior Malia Roll took seventh overall (22:54), Beaver senior Jamie Bowden set a seasonal best 23:19 for 10th overall and senior Hannah Mcleod ran a 23:21 for 11th overall. Freshmen Lucy Ray (25:02) and Ava Skubic (25:03) took 16th and 17th overall, respectively, for the Beavers.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior Malia Roll was the Beavers top finisher against Westview and Liberty.

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