Hazen Cross-Country Coach Expects Lone Loss To Pay Off

Hazen's boys cross-country team should be 7-0 in the Seamount League lead right now.

But Coach Paul Strode doesn't regret the decision that cost the Highlanders their perfect season. He thinks it might pay off down the road.

Strode's striders showed their strength last week with resounding victories over Mount Rainier (17-42) and Lindbergh (15-35). Mount Rainier was unbeaten going into the meet and Lindbergh had just one loss.

Hazen had a loss, too, thanks to Strode's decision to hold out his top seven runners in a meet with Kennedy and Liberty the week before. Hazen's JV runners beat Liberty, but fell a point short of Kennedy's varsity, 27-28.

Strode wanted his top runners fresh for the Sunfair Invitational the next day in Yakima.

Strode said he has heard comments from other coaches and runners regarding the decision, but has no regrets. The experience at Sunfair should pay off in the big meets at th end of the season, he said.

"I just have a different agenda for our kids, different goals," Strode said.

The Highlanders close out the regular season Thursday against Mount Si and Highline and can still earn the Seamount League crown by winning the league meet next week. The league championship is awarded on a points system involving both dual meets (two points for each win) and the league meet (10 points for first, nine for second, etc.).

"Hazen's head and shoulders above everyone else in the league," Lindbergh Coach Ken Storkson said. "They could give us all a 100-yard lead and it still wouldn't do any good."

The Highlanders are ranked third in the state Class AA poll behind Gig Harbor and Lynnwood.