For the past three seasons, Camas High School has taken the cross country team to Arlington, Washington to race in the Nike Hole In The Wall Invitational.
Hosted by Lakewood High School, the 36th annual event took place on October 12. The invitational showcased over 4,000 runners from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, and British Columbia. Many consider this meet to be the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
The event gets its name from a small 5-to-6-foot wide gap in a fence that runners used to pass through as part of the course. Ever since its inaugural season in 1983, the name “Hole In The Wall” has stuck.
In 2010, a former Lakewood High School Cross-Country runner upgraded the original hole in the fencing to a larger feature.
“There is a brick wall with a path that goes through it, which you run through. There’s also a wooden plank that goes over it that says Hole In The Wall,” said Camas senior Elizabeth Nilles.
The spot has become a popular place for teams to take pictures.
Camas brought 28 total runners to the meet, with seven on each varsity and JV team. The course is known to be fast and great for PRs. It is a race that everyone looks forward to because they know they have a chance to get a really good time.
“On Saturday, the conditions were perfect. We saw good times because it’s a fast course, but we may not see them in the more challenging courses we are about to face,” said Laurie Porter, the head coach for Camas cross country.
The team drove up the day before so they could see and get a feel for the course. Many runners will say that this meet is the most enjoyable one all year.
“A lot of people like it because it is an overnight. It’s really fun,” said sophomore Porter Craig.
This race is unique because the Camas program does not do many overnight trips during the regular season.
“My favorite part was the team bonding because you’re with your team for two days straight,” said junior Camryn Mock.
The girls varsity team placed 11th overall, and their top finisher was Halle Jenkins. She finished in 14th place with a season PR of 18:20.1.
“I wouldn’t say that this race helped us boost our confidence for state, but overall we’re ranked first so I think that gives us a lot of confidence and makes us want to win,” Mock said.
“The JV girls ran a great race, with all runners finishing within one minute of each other. We all finished together at the finish line, not purposely,” said freshman Natalie Peddie. They placed second, which was the highest placing of all Camas teams at the invitational.
On the boys side, varsity placed fourth overall. Sam Geiger was the first Camas runner to finish and placed third with a new PR of 15:15.5. The boys junior varsity placed 12th as a team. Andrew Puffer was the first to cross the line for his squad, placing 21st with a time of 16:41.7.
Overall, Coach Porter was really pleased with how the Camas runners executed the races, despite there being a few key runners who had to stay on the sidelines due to injury.
“Being without two of our people, I’m very happy with how they did. We had a lot of PRs,” she said. “When we have a healthy team going into the postseason, I think that they’re going to do a lot better.”
According to the 2019 Cross Country Coaches Poll that came out on October 14, the Camas girls varsity squad is ranked first and the boys are ranked second in the 4A division.
“There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being ranked the number one team in 4A. It makes us want to work harder to reach those expectations,” said Jenkins.
Featured Image Courtesy. Sam Geiger