The cross-country course at Lower Woodland Park is considered one of the three most difficult in the state.
Dave Gurry an All-American at the University of Arkansas set the course record of 15 minutes, 24 seconds in 1990 and no one has come within 30 seconds of it since.
"It's tough, no doubt tougher than any course we run on in the Seamount (League)," Hazen Coach Paul Strode said.
The Highlanders had great success at Lower Woodland last week as they placed five runners among the top six to easily win the Seamount boys team title.
However, at tomorrow's Sea-King District meet they face the best of the Metro League on a course many Seamount runners have run just once this season.
"It usually takes a person two or three runs on Lower Woodland to get a feel of what they are doing," Meet Director Charles Wandler said. "It's hard to get accustomed to . . . there are so many things to account for. Much like when Metro kids run on a different course."
Last season, the Metro boys adjusted well to the faster Seamount course at Evergreen High School as they swept all five Class AA state berths. The Lindbergh and Mount Rainier girls teams finished fourth and fifth respectively to earn a state berths.
"We like Lower Woodland," said Lindbergh Coach Ken Storksen whose Eagles won the 1994 Seamount girls team title. "It's more of a real cross-country course than the flat courses in Seamount."
Lower Woodland is slightly longer than 3 miles. The runners must maneuver its long straightaways and tight curves over mud, grass, gravel and cement.
The race begins in an open field along Green Lake Way North. The runners travel into the park for most of the course and emerge on a paved road along 50th Northeast Street just before the finish.
It's impossible to neglect the three hills that is Lower Woodland's trademark.
The first hill, Soap Box Derby Hill is the shortest but must be traveled twice. The next major obstacle is Suicide Hill considered the most difficult climb of the course and Metro Hill, nearly a quarter-mile long signals the race's end.
Newcomers have heard a lot about the hills by the time they start the race.
"Mentally you have to go into the race with a different attitude because of the hills," said senior Tom Hildrum of Hazen High, the Seamount boys champion. "If you try to attack those hills in the beginning, you'll kill yourself.
"You've got to be a little more conservative. Especially against the Metro kids. They run it five times a year so they know it a little better than the Seamount guys."
Last week, the Seamount boys ran the first mile at Lower Woodland in 5:20 compared to 4:45 by the Metro boys.
"My kids are very aware of that first mile," Strode said. "We can't go out that slow at district. Last week no one wanted to take the lead."
Hildrum's winning Seamount mark of 16:42 would have placed 11th at the Metro meet, far behind winner Cary Stidham's 15:58. Seamount girls champion Jenni Nelson of Hazen (19:54) would have finished third in Metro behind champion Ann Ramsey (19:10) of Lakeside and Roosevelt's Elizabeth Roller (19:48).
However, a true comparison must take into account the poor weather conditions during the Seamount race and the unfamiliarity to the Lower Woodland course.
History bodes well for the Seamount boys. The last time the district race was held at Lower Woodland, Mount Rainier runners swept the first two places in 1992.
Conversely, Angie Fortner of Mount Rainier was the only Seamount girl to finish among the top eight in 1992.
-----------------------------------------------------------. . SEA-KING DISTRICT PROJECTIONS
Predicted order of finish for tomorrow's Sea-King District cross-country meet based on times at last week's Metro and Seamount League meets at Lower Woodland Park course. The girls race begins at 3 p.m.; the boys race starts at 3:30 p.m. . GIRLS. . Name School Yr. Time '93 fin #. . Ann Ramsey Lakeside so. 19:10 1st. . Elizabeth Roller Roosevelt so. 19:48 5th. . Jenni Nelson Hazen jr. 19:54 DNC. . Asha Dean Lakeside fr. 20:18 DNC. . Stephanie Davidson Hazen sr. 20:26 DNC. . Kate Wilson Lakeside sr. 20:31 DNC. . Sarah Gagnier Lindbergh sr. 20;35 19th. . Kate Porter Garfield sr. 20:36 DNC. . Kristin Proctor Lakeside sr. 20:37 13th. . Amanda Frederick Seattle Prep so. 20:42 28th. . Page Hayton Seattle Prep jr. 21:10 30th. . Hana Trnka Lakeside sr. 21:14 33rd. . Laura Lewis Kennedy sr. 21:15 37th. . Laura Lodwig Blanchet so. 21:18 12th. . Ann Alokolaro Blanchet sr. 21:21 31st. . BOYS. . Name School Yr. Time '93 fin#. . Cary Stidham Hale jr. 15:58 3rd. . Rick Weis O'Dea jr. 16:04 42nd. . Paul Alsdorf Lakeside sr. 16:05 5th. . David Bazzi O'Dea jr. 16:06 26th. . Dan Gonzalez Blanchet sr. 16:17 4th. . Tony Shoecraft Garfield jr. 16:20 DNC. . Matt Pearson O'Dea jr. 16:26 13th. . Jason Detwiler E.Catholic sr. 16:34 21st. . Brian Smith Hale jr. 16:37 18th. . Mark Hunter Garfield sr. 16:38 11th. . Tom Hildrum Hazen sr. 16:42 9th. . Kevin Shively Garfield jr. 16:45 23rd. . James Day Hazen sr. 16:47 14th. . John Lofthus Roosevelt sr. 16:50 DNC. . Jim McArthur Kennedy jr. 16:53 29th. .
# Finish at the 1993 Sea-King District Meet.