SEATTLE - How good is the Hazen boys cross-country team?
The Highlanders' No. 6 runner finished ninth overall yesterday in the Seamount League championship - and his score didn't count in the team standings.
If dominance was the theme of yesterday's meet at Lower Woodland Park, Hazen would be the title entry.
Led by the one-two finish of Tom Hildrum and James Day, the Highlanders captured five of the top six spots to easily outdistance Mount Rainier for the team trophy, 18 points to 64. Kennedy, Lindbergh and Highline also advanced to Thursday's Sea-King District meet at Lower Woodland.
Hildrum's time of 16 minutes, 42 seconds over the 3.1-mile course beat Day by five seconds and Kennedy's Jim McArthur by 11. Hazen's Toby Switzer, Jason Lopata and Fergus Hudson finished fourth, fifth and sixth - meaning Brett Leighton's ninth-place time wasn't tabulated in the team total, which counts the top five runners.
"We just went out and did what we came to," Hildrum said. "It's the whole team. We were kind of speculating what score we'd get. I wanted to get under 25."
Hildrum was in a lead pack which included teammates Day and Switzer, McArthur, and Mount Rainier's Michio Winters, who finished seventh. Hildrum was pleased to outduel Day down the stretch. The two have battled all season for Hazen's top position.
"He usually outkicks me. I guess he didn't have it today," Hildrum said. "It was nice. I can't say I didn't want to win. I would have been happy if James or Toby would've won. But as we say, `I have no friends the last 200 meters.' "
The Highlanders will seek revenge at next week's Sea-King meet. Hazen finished behind five Metro League teams last year and failed to qualify for state. "I felt we got robbed, but it was our own fault," Day said.
The disappointing loss provided extra incentive for the experienced Highlanders - Hildrum, Day, Switzer, Lopata and Hudson are all seniors. "They're on a mission," Hazen Coach Paul Strode said. "They know this is it."
Hazen must take on the Metro League's best on the difficult Lower Woodland course - the Metro's home turf. Yesterday was the first meet this year for the Highlanders at Lower Woodland.
"That's always tough," Strode said. "They know the course. We just can't break up in the hills."
Strode and the Highlanders scouted the competition at Wednesday's Metro League Championships. "I was really impressed. They go out extremely hard," Strode said.
Day is confident the Highlanders will fare better than last year's sixth-place finish. "I don't think that will happen," he said.