One stride and Cole Zink is admiring the Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The next, he’s being passed by one, two, three, runners.
And just like that, the first South Whidbey cross country boy in several years to qualify for state finished 54th.
“For the first time doing it, I think it was pretty good,” said Zink, a sophomore.
“I didn’t focus on running and I focused on people that were passing me.”
Zink crossed the finish in 17:30.7. It was one of his slowest 5,000-meter times this season. In the previous two meets, the Cascade Conference Championship and the tri-district Westside Classic, Zink posted mid-17 minute times.
“We wanted him to run hard and gain the experience, which he did,” said Falcon head coach Doug Fulton. “He wanted to break 17 (minutes), we’ll get there.”
Rolling hills on the course presented a physical challenge to Zink. The golf course was unlike any of the courses Zink said he ran this year. A hill greeted runners at the start of the 5,000-meter race, and more waited for them on the path.
More than the physical experience of running, the mental toll of running alone for the first time this year affected Zink.
“I got psyched out because I didn’t have any other guys there with me,” Zink said of running without his Falcon teammates. “Seeing all the other teams, it didn’t register with me until late. I couldn’t focus on running at all. It was, ‘Look at the pretty trees.’"