The Tahoma High School boys cross country team is not only ranked No. 1 in the state, they are also ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
The Bears are loaded with plenty of talent, but as we found out in this weeks Prep Zone, they also run with heavy and caring hearts.
The sport of cross country is anything but easy.
Runners race on open-air courses over grass, gravel and, once in awhile, through water.
While race day can be fun; practice is grueling. Five to 10 miles is a normal day for the Bears.
You might think that would keep numbers down, Tahoma has over 100 kids on the cross country team.
“It’s a family, and I think kids are drawn to that. And it’s just got bigger and bigger because kids are always looking for something positive to be part of, ” said Tahoma head coach Jeff Brady.
Brady has been around cross country for much of his life and while he has coached very successful teams, he says there is more to the sport than winning.
“You want kids to be good runners because that’s what we coach, but more importantly I want them to be good people,” he said. “I want them to make an impact outside of this program, because life is more important that just running.”
Tahoma cross country runners Nick Gennarelli, a senior, and Colton Egberg know that first hand.
“He would always show up to school with a big smile on his face and give me a high five, he would always brighten my day,” said Egberg.
He is talking about Tyler Ghosn, a classmate and good friend who lost his battle with cancer last March.
“It was very tough to deal with when we found out, ” said Egberg.
“It weighs heavy on your heart, especially seeing family and friends, especially the guy in this with me, Colton, ” said Gennarelli.
Egberg and Gennarelli are usually running together towards the finish line, now they’re also doing a lot of walking, on a mission to raise money for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“We wanted to help a cause, we started by going door to door,” said Gennarelli.
“We probably get a little donation every 20 houses, wasn’t much, but we keep doing it,” Egberg said.
The cross country stars also took to social media and started up a GoFundMe page with all proceeds going to Fred Hutch.
“We’re really just in it for helping people, but the main focus is that we just don’t want people to pitch money in, we want people to feel when they donate they are part of this community and we are all in this fight together,” Gennarelli said.
Kind of like a cross country team. While each athlete runs alone, it takes a team to win and while the Bears may be a front runner to take home a state title, they’re already winning in the streets of Maple Valley.
“It’s just an awesome feeling knowing I’m going to bed at night knowing that I’m doing something. I’m running and doing school work, but that’s for me, I want to do something and leave a mark, I love to help people,” says Gennarelli.