Gwen Robertson has been the head coach for the Issaquah cross-country team for 37 years, but she said this is the funnest team she’s coached.
“We have like 130 kids, but the leadership on this team is outstanding,” Robertson said. “That’s fun to see. They’re acting like a team. The older kids are really engaged with the younger kids, and the younger kids feel (like they’re part of it). That’s huge.”
Robertson said she looks forward to practice every day because of the team atmosphere and the relationships with each other.
“(The older kids) have embraced the younger kids and have brought them in and they love having them around,” Robertson said. “They treat them like a little brother or a little sister. That’s the kind of team you want to work with because it’s fun.”
The girls team is lead by junior Julia David-Smith and sophomore Darwin Hanson. They have also gotten good runs from freshmen Julia Ryan and Anna Jensen, who Robertson said have been performing very well.
Robertson said the boys team has a deep group of runners, so there is a lot of movement, something she said makes the team stronger. Freshman Liam Heninger has been the top runner on the boys’ side.
“He ran under 16 minutes (at the John Payne/Curtis Invitational on Oct. 5), which is outstanding for a ninth-grader,” Robertson said.
The Eagles had a number of runners place well at the 36th annual Hole in the Wall Invitational on Oct. 12 in Lakewood. For the girls team, David-Smith finished second (17:07.6) and Hanson finished 92nd (19:34.5). The girls team finished 19th out of 42 teams. On the boys’ side, Heninger finished 65th (16:20.7) and senior Jasper Fuhs placed 99th (16:42.4). The boys placed 13th out of 52 teams.
The 4A KingCo Championship Meet will be on Nov. 2 at Lake Sammamish State Park. Robertson said qualifying will be tough for both the boys and girls teams, but she hopes the runners will just focus on doing their best.
“We always try to bring our A-game and that’s what matters the most,” Robertson said. “Just go out there and give it your best and if they make it, they make it, and if they don’t, they still did their best, and they can live with that and so can everyone else.”
Robertson said it’s more important that the team has fun instead of just focusing on wins and losses.