Sunfair boys - The strong survive

KRIS HOLLAND/Yakima Herald-Republic
Eisenhower's Bryan Simison finishes the sixth varsity flight of the Sunfair Invitational cross country meet at Franklin Park Saturday. Eisenhower's boys team finished third overall.
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KRIS HOLLAND/Yakima Herald-Republic
Eisenhower's Cody VanDeBrake runs the first mile of the boys seventh flight at the Sunfair Invitational at Franklin Park Saturday.

Throughout the afternoon from one heated race to the next, three of the state's heavyweight boy s cross country powers took their best swings at each other on Saturday.

Nationally ranked Central Valley managed to survive the long day, but not without Gig Harbor and Eisenhower breathing down its neck every step of the way in the 34th annual Sunfair Invitational at Franklin Park.

And the fact that the Cadets finished third in the seven-flight meet and didn't flinch the whole day made a lot of blue-and-red runners very satisfied.

With this meet scoring seven we got a chance to show our depth, which is our strength, said Ike coach Phil English. I'm happy with this and the kids should be. We were strong today and we'll be better in a month.

Central Valley, Gig Harbor and Eisenhower, ranked 1-2-5 in the Class 4A state coaches poll, were far and away the class of the massive field as they claimed the top three spots in four of the seven individual races on the three-mile course.

CV's Bears from Spokane lived up to their ranking and impressively defended their title, winning four flights and finishing with 14 points. That's the lowest score since Ike won with nine points four years ago.

Gig Harbor and Eisenhower were tied heading into the final flight but the Tides had a serious ace up their sleeve. Miles Unterreiner, a 4:13 miler, powered away in the elite flight for a 10-second win in 15 minutes, 13 seconds.

Unterreiner's time tied for 19th on Sunfair's all-time list, the first addition to the boys top 20 in six years. His single point gave Gig Harbor a final total of 17 points while Eisenhower ended up with 25 points.

Senior Cody VanDeBrake turned in the Cadets' best time of the day in the final flight, fighting off illness for a time of 16:15.

I've been trying to get over it all week and I guess I need more time, VanDeBrake said. I wanted to run faster but that's the best I could do today. I'll feel better soon.

The best local time of the day was turned in by small-school standout Herschel Sanchey of Klickitat, who finished eighth in the elite flight in 16:03.

Not only did Sanchey have to deal with tougher competition than he normally faces, he suffered a bruised ankle while playing football Friday night in the Homecoming game for the Lyle-Klickitat-Wishram 8-man squad.

This morning I couldn't even walk on it, he said. But warming up here I finally got it to loosen up. It's a tough course and tough competition - that's a hard match. But I like when the odds are against me, I like the challenge.

In the first six flights Eisenhower never placed lower than third. The deep Cadets, who also won non-varsity races for freshmen and juniors, got solid representation from its classes with the trio of sophomore Bryan Simison (16:24), junior Ryan Chapman (16:27) and senior Derrick Thomas (16:32).

Davis finished 14th overall in the boys meet with junior Emmanuel Contreras leading the Pirates with a run of 16:46 in the sixth flight.

Ellensburg was 21st overall and fifth among 2A schools. Senior Matt Nodine and junior Kevin Aubol clocked the same time of 16:25 in the last two flights.

Unterreiner, winner of two other big invitationals this season, towed the front-runners through the first mile in 5:03 and opened a 20-yard lead by two miles in the elite race. Rob Webster of Puyallup was second in 15:23 and Southridge junior Andrew Gonzales, who ran at Sunnyside as a freshman, came up for third in 15:37.