Duncan F-S. '25 described Bush Cross Country as a team-oriented program, built on a strong connection between all the runners.
When the boys won the state championship for the first time this past fall, Kathryn F. '23 said she may have been more excited than the boys for their success.
“It was so cool because I know how hard they had worked for it,” Kathryn said. “They went out and did what they were supposed to do, and I was really hyped for them.”
Through their passion for the sport of running, both Duncan and Kathryn have been leaders in their own right for the program, helping both the boys and girls teams experience historic seasons.
“I think because very few actually enjoy the act of running, people are all there and they want to get better and work hard,” Kathryn said. “We all have similar goals and are rooting for one another.”
After finishing in eighth place as a team at the 2021 1A WIAA Cross Country State Championships last November, Duncan explained that this past result – a bit of a disappointing finish for the young but talented team – served as motivation for the Blazers.
“We were hoping to finish a little higher at state, but we had a strong track season and over the summer we kind of knew we were looking for a state championship and that went into our summer training,” he said. “Everyone put in a lot of mileage.”
That included a big uptick from Duncan. He said the track season – which included running at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, where he clocked a personal best mile time of 4:37.76 – along with significantly more mileage over the summer, provided a strong base for the cross country season.
“Duncan is obsessed with running. He lives it, breathes it, and dreams about it,” Bush Head Coach James Batey said. “His passion has materialized into some incredible results in just his first two years on the team – All-State (honors) in both cross country and track, a leader on a state championship cross country team, and, probably most notably, he has infused his passion for running into his teammates cultivating a culture of hard work and consistency which is key to a successful program.”
Duncan won the first race of the season in September, the Emerald League Meet at Magnuson Park, in a personal-best time of 16:56.3. Two weeks later, he was Bush’s top runner as the Blazers won the prestigious Bob Firman Invitational Division II Championships in Eagle, Idaho, where he ran 17:03.4.
“I think it was a confidence booster,” Duncan said of Bob Firman. “We went into the season knowing we were going to be fast and then seeing the results was motivating. That was kind of like the first trophy we got, and it honestly meant so much.”
Throughout the season Duncan benefited from having experienced runner and fellow Trailblazer Amaré F. '23
to run with as they pushed one another to new limits as the teams top runners.
“Doing workouts with Amaré and having him in races to give me a push was amazing,” Duncan said. “At state I saw him ahead and it motivated me to get up to him and I think I passed more people because of it.”
Duncan explained there were a few bumps in the season, including a third-place finish at the Emerald Sound Conference Championships, but the team came together for a strong showing at the district championships where they won the title with 55 points.
“We weren't focused or really worried about what our competition was doing,” Duncan said “We were trying to be as a team connected as one, and doing the best we could.”
“It means a lot,” Duncan said of the state title. “ When you look in the gym, there's no cross country state banners and being the first one is obviously special; that will stay up there for a long time.”
BORN TO RUN
Growing up and throughout Middle School, Kathryn never really viewed herself as athletic. It was not until the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and she was looking for something to do.
“I had to do something, so I started going on little one mile runs with my sister (Kaila F. '20),: she shared.
With the encouragement from Kaila’s friend, Lolo D. '20, who ran on the team, Kathryn decided to give Bush cross country a try.
“I was like heck, ‘I don’t have anything else to do’, and it just kind of clicked,” Kathryn said.
Since then, it’s been one foot in front of the other, as Kathryn has progressed into one of the best distance runners in program history and the #1 runner for the Blazers during the cross country season, leading the team to a second-place league and divisional title and a fifth place team finish at state.
“Kathryn has grown so much as a runner in the last year and a half. She was someone who came into the sport being naturally talented, but didn’t settle for that narrative and really bought into her training,” Bush Cross Country Coach Karsten Kaufmann said. “ She actually had a tough regular season this past fall, with her times not being quite where she wanted, but once postseason came around, it seemed as though the flood gates opened, and all of her summer training paid off in her final three races. Just for her to have that patience, and it all pan out the way it did was so great.”
After a strong first year running for the program, Kathryn said when she came back after the summer for her junior year, she had emerged as one of the top runners for Bush.
“When I joined my sophomore year, I assumed I would be one of the slowest people, and then when I came back my junior year I was faster,” she said. “It was exciting and surprising, and it made me want to get better.”
As a junior, Kathryn was consistently one of Bush’s top finishers, including a top 25 finish at the 1A state meet (20:27.5), guiding the Blazers to a fourth-place finish.
After a solid track season, which included a personal-best of 12:07.97 in the 3,200, Kathryn said coach Karsten Kaufmann provided a summer workout plan to follow. This fall she returned for her senior season and the progress continued.
“I think it was great to have a plan and that motivated me,” she said.
This fall season, Kathryn lowered her personal-best in the 5,000 by nearly thirty seconds, breaking the twenty-minute mark twice, which was a goal of hers. At the state meet, she finished in tenth place overall, running her fastest time of the season, 19:58.9.
Kathryn, who is still new to the sport, said she would like to pursue the sport at the collegiate level. This spring, she’s hoping to continue to improve.
“I would like to break twelve minutes in 3,200, and work on my form,” she said. “(But) also enjoy the team experience.”
-by Mary Albl, Communications Manager