King’s Smith wins districts | Cross country

By David R Pan | Nov 01, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Naomi Smith has won the North Sound Conference and 1A District girls cross country titles.

King’s Naomi Smith is on a roll.

The junior standout followed up her victory in the North Sound meet with a first place finish in the 1A District girls cross country championships Saturday, Oct. 27, at South Whidbey High School.

Smith finished in 18 minutes, 16.05 seconds, well ahead of Bear Creek’s Andrea Markezich, who was second in 18:29.14. Smith also helped lead the Knights to the team title with 66 points. Northwest placed second with 82.

The 2018 season is going better than she could have imagined. Coming into her junior year, Smith’s goal was to break 18 minutes. She accomplished that goal easily in October at the Hole in the Wall Invitational. Smith finished in 17:27.9, a personal best time.

“To do that was really shocking,” she said. “From a team aspect, I did not expect us to be as good as we have been and everyone on the team has really stepped it up and surpassed any expectations that I or anyone had.”

A strong offseason has prepared Smith well for only her second season of running cross country. Smith played volleyball her freshman year at King’s.

“She was really good last year,” King’s coach Rod Wilcox said. “But she’s improved over a minute this year and for an elite person to do that is unheard of. … And it’s due to her offseason preparation. She’s very dedicated and she takes care of herself.”

When she was playing volleyball, Smith said that she thought about running. When the volleyball season was over, she joined the cross country team for a few practices.

“I was really missing it. That was where my heart was the whole time,” Smith said. “(Practice) was a lot of fun. I kind of wanted to be here.”

Smith and Wilcox tried different race strategies during her sophomore season. Much of her success this season is because Smith embraced the idea of getting out front and staying there.

“She’s a very determined front runner,” Wilcox said. “She’s not a kick person. She’s more of a take it to them, go for the lead and if someone else is going to lead, they’re going to have to earn it.”

Smith said that if she settles into a pace, she can generally keep it up.

“I’ve kind of found it’s better for me to really push that pace from the beginning because I know I’ll be able to stick on it and maybe break some of those girls that are trying to go easy until that final kick,” Smith said. “That just tends to work better for me. I think we found that through trial and error.”

The state cross country championships are Saturday, Nov. 3, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

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