Higgins Places Third, PHS Girls 13th at XC State Championships

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Peninsula High School junior Elektra Higgins finished in third place Nov. 4 at the Washington WIAA 3A Cross Country State Championships at a muddy Sun Willow Golf Course in Pasco. It was her third straight Top 10 finish at the state championships, after finishing seventh in 2021 and ninth in 2022.

Her third-place finish, according to PHS cross country coach Ted Nugent, ties for the highest finish ever — boys or girls — for a Seahawks runner at the state level.

“It’s such an honor to coach (Elektra),” Nugent said. “She had her best summer of training ever and she keeps getting stronger. She makes it look effortless.”

Higgins led the pack for the first mile, and for the rest of the race was able to keep pace with Sophia and Victoria Rodriguez — a dominant pair of sisters from Mercer Island High School who finished the race first and second, respectively. Higgins finished the course in 17:44:80, about eight seconds behind Victoria.

The PHS girls team also qualified for the state race, taking 13th overall, seven spots below last year’s sixth-place finish. The girls lose seniors Cecily Albrecht and Lola Sweet, but Nugent said he’s encouraged by some of the younger runners’ progress. Plus, Higgins and fellow junior Hailey Howard, who missed six weeks of the season due to an injury, will be back next year.

The Seahawks boys didn’t meet their goal of making it as a team to the state championships this year, but senior Cooper Leavengood finished 86th individually — his second consecutive Top 100 finish — running the course in 17:17:30.

“This was kind of a disappointment to end his senior year, but I was proud of his effort,” said Nugent. “His goal was to finish in the Top 20 and that was realistic.” Leavengood had heel pain for the last part of the season that forced him to miss some meets and practices. “That combination of pain and missed training, he just wasn’t at the level he could be.

”Most of Nugent’s cross-country runners will be back in the spring for track and field season. He offers regular training opportunities for runners during the winter. “I used to only get a couple of runners to join me, but now I sometimes see 10-20 kids participating, which is really encouraging."


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