Issaquah cross country on the brink of history

In its 45-year history, the Issaquah cross country program has never sent a male athlete to state four consecutive years.

In its 45-year history, the Issaquah cross country program has never sent a male athlete to state four consecutive years.

Not only could the Eagles break that streak in 2009, they could double their output.

Seniors Kevin LeMond and Chris Brasino, who competed at state their freshman, sophomore and junior years, have their eyes on a piece of school history.

“It’s unusual for boys, particularly because of maturity,” head coach Gwen Robertson said. “Boys don’t grow until 15 or 16. For these guys to be good as freshmen and continue, says a lot.”

As freshmen, LeMond finished 79th in the 3A meet, while Brasino, sick with the flu, finished in 142nd place. As a sophomore, Brasino placed 17th in 3A, while LeMond took 40th. With a move to class 4A, Brasino finished 39th, and LeMond placed 57th as juniors.

As a team, Issaquah placed 11th, 3rd and 11th at state the last three seasons, respectively.

And with the help of LeMond and Brasino, the Eagles could reach another milestone.

“The other compliment to these guys, is if the team makes it, it will be the first time that the team makes it four years in a row,” assistant coach Mitch Stuard said.

For LeMond and Brasino, reaching state again would be a great accomplishment, but the pair remains modest.

“It would be cool,” LeMond said. “We haven’t really set any goals for state. We take it kind of like a meet at a time.”

Brasino concurred, noting the sport is more about teamwork than individual accomplishments.

“The best part is having your teammates with you, running with you, being with them as a team out there,” he said.

The Issaquah boys are 2-0 in league meets, also netting a win at the Kelso Invitational. LeMond finished first in both league meets, and was second by 2 seconds at the invitational. Brasino was sick early in the season, but has earned an eighth-place finish in the last league meet, and a 10th-place finish at the invite.

The reason for the early-season success?

“We worked a lot harder than we normally have, as a team we worked hard together over the summer, and it’s starting to pay off,” LeMond said.

A key is also team unity. LeMond and Brasino, along with Jon Wallis, Turner Wiley, Isaac Robinson and Dennis Leigh don’t just spend time running together, but away from the sport as well.

“It’s good to have a tight team,” Brasino said. “It’s good to have everyone together so everyone knows each other. It makes for better races.”

Robertson, who has coached cross country for 27 years at IHS, said she is very impressed with her 2009 boys team, noting they continue to move up her list of all-time favorite groups.

“They ask me, what’s your favorite team? They’re not up there at No. 1 yet. They’re working on it,” she said, joking with LeMond and Brasino.

Robertson noted that getting through league and districts will be tough — especially with one less state entry this season — but she is optimistic as to where LeMond, Brasino and the rest of the team will sit at the end of the season.

“If they’re healthy, I believe anything could happen,” she said.