As Cole Bailey rolls through the cross country course, the music begins to flow in his head. It’s one of the things that keeps the Lake Washington High junior focused on running a solid race.
“I think about my favorite song and the lyrics to my favorite song. I love running to music, and so I think about the beats of the song and that kind of gets my heart into rhythm and gets my breathing steady. I just kind of let my legs carry me through,” said Bailey, noting that with the Brockhampton concert on the horizon, that artist’s song “Boogie” is what’s been driving the Kang lately.
Everything worked in his favor on Sept. 17 at Marymoor Park when Bailey blazed to first place with a time of 16 minutes, 36 seconds — a personal best by a whopping 40 seconds — on the 5K course against runners from Juanita and Mercer Island.
“I’m really excited about it,” he said afterward. “I’ve been training since in the July August area, just been working hard with my friends and (having) a lot of commitment after school every day.”
Bailey has been running track for LW since he was a freshman and still competes in the 1,600 and 3,200 races for the Kangs. He took up cross country as a sophomore and qualified for districts last season.
He was initially a long jumper, but caught the long-distance bug when watching those athletes still running after his workouts were finished. He wanted in.
“I just wanted to get into shape, so I decided to join distance and I ended up loving it, making friends and ended up not being half bad,” Bailey said with a laugh. “So I thought I would stick with it.”
In order to make it to state this season, Bailey said he’ll have to log tons of miles and keep up the pace. He’s made a lot of friends while running and those bonds play a key role on the course, with everyone helping to push each other through the tough workouts and races.
At press time, the LW boys were 4-0 and the girls were 3-1. Rounding out the top five for LW on Sept. 17 were Erick Moreno (second, 16:54) and Luca Andonian (fifth, 17:50) for the boys and Belle Brandenfels (fourth, 20:58) and Chloe Cook (fifth, 21:43) for the girls.
Juniors Chance Brown and Felicity Strzelec were Juanita’s top finishers during the Sept. 17 meet, which took place near the Cirque du Soleil big top and gave an extra flair to the event.
Brown took 11th in 18:07 and Strzelec placed second in 20:27.
“It was a nice course, it was a pretty speedy course. It’s a little tiring, it’s a little grueling, but if you just put in the work and put in the effort, you’ll get far,” said Brown, who’s in his second year running cross country and track at Juanita.
Brown’s mom was a competitive swimmer in Australia and his dad was a 4×4 runner in high school: “If you put two and two together and put decent speed and decent endurance, you get a cross country runner.” Most importantly, Brown said he has fun running cross country and competing in the mile in track.
Strzelec added that discipline and passion are keys to running success.
“Just knowing that I can always improve, and even if I do have a bad run some days, I know that it will always get better,” she said. “I just keep practicing and training. It just makes me feel good.”
She began running track and cross country in middle school and elementary school and remembers playing games with her friends that involved lots of running and energy.
Senior captain Eric Marnadi, who’s been with the program for three years, qualified for districts last year and is gunning for state this time out.
He, too, likes seeing progression each race and especially enjoys “running with like-minded people that wanna push themselves as much as you do.”
At press time, the Juanita boys were 1-3 and the girls were 0-4. On the girls’ side on Sept. 17, Laura Benson placed third in 20:45.