GAIL WOOD; The Olympian

OLYMPIA – On this day, size didn’t matter. Not for Olympia’s “just barely” 5-foot Monica Madrigal. Not for Gig Harbor’s 5-foot-7 Conner Peloquin. And not for Northwest Christian, the smallest of the 29 schools entered in Saturday’s Capital Invite.

At the 18th edition of this cross country meet, Northwest Christian came up with one of the biggest performances, placing five runners in the top 10. Lucas Graham led the way with the race of his life to win the sophomore boys race, finishing the 2.3-mile course in 12 minutes, 27 seconds – a pace of 6:13 per mile.

“One thing we stress is that running is running,” Northwest Christian coach Bill Kehoe said. “It doesn’t matter what school you run for. It didn’t look like my kids were intimidated at all.”

The Navigators’ Justin Holden placed second in the boys’ junior race, 46 seconds behind Chehalis’ Dakota Parker.

Madrigal made up for her short stride with foot speed to place third behind two Gig Harbor runners in the girls junior race, finishing in 15:07. Madrigal sprinted into the lead early but couldn’t hold off Gig Harbor’s Maureen Tremblay, who won in 14:29.

Gig Harbor’s Ruby Roberts pulled away in the girls senior race to win in 14:11.

Peloquin, running in the boys senior race, took the lead on a hill climb 800 meters in and never trailed again, winning in 11:41.4. It was his second win at this meet.

The 18th annual Capital Invite drew 29 schools and more than 1,000 runners, keeping its status as one of the biggest invitationals in the state. The race returned to the Capital campus after two years at Capitol Lake.