YAKIMA — A new star emerged at the first Big 9 Cross Country meet of the season at Franklin Park in Yakima on Thursday. Wenatchee freshman Tatum Grossdidier stunned the field with a win in the girls race with a time of 19.49 over the 3-mile course. She was the only racer under 20 minutes.

“Tatum has been running well. She ran during the summer with us. She was pretty impressive,” said Wenatchee Head Coach Susan Valdez.

Eastmont Head Coach Gary Millard was also impressed.

“She had some people chasing her down at the end, but she won pole to pole. That does not happen very often,” Millard said.

Millard noted that his top racer, senior Ashlyn Hill beat Grossdidier last week at Highlander, but she was bothered by a knee injury.

Eisenhower was the girls champion with 48 points. West Valley was second with 63. Wenatchee was third with 69. Eastmont was fifth with 100. It is important to be one of the top two teams, since two teams go to State from the Big 9 this season.

“We’re being optimistic being close to West Valley. We’re still trying to shoot for one of those top two spots at the end of the season,” Valdez said. “I was hoping to beat West Valley. Then, we still have Eisenhower. We’ll take a look at it to see how close we are. We’ll run up against them several more times.”

For Wenatchee, junior McKenna White was eighth. Senior Kristen Sanford was 14th.

“We ran well. We were in there. It’s just the first race of the season. With a tweak here and there, it could have turned out differently,” Valdez said.

Millard said his girls team is young with three freshmen. For Eastmont, Hill was sixth. Freshman Dayna Dickson was 22nd.

For the boys, West Valley was the top school with 31 points. Eisenhower was second with 42. Wenatchee was third with 77.

Eastmont was fifth with 112.

Wenatchee boys finished in a group, 13, 14, 15, 16. Sophomore Lars Sorom was 13, sophomore Ian Eifert was 14, junior Fernando Garcia was 15 and sophomore Liam Newman was 16. Sophomore Gabe Velazquez was 20.

“We have a group of sophomore boys that are doing well,” Valdez said. “They seem to like running together. If we can get those guys just a little bit closer, that is the goal. They are young. They ran some good times.”

With the West Valley boys taking the top spot, Valdez knows now it might be hard to break into the top two between Ike and West Valley.

“West Valley was tough. Everybody knew they would beat Ike,” Valdez said. “If we ever beat Eisenhower, we still might be behind West Valley.”

For the Eastmont boys, their number one, Jared Barnes is still out with the knee injury. Millard said he would be back Saturday.

“I just did not want to run him. It’s not an even terrain course, so I wanted to hold him out since he’s recovering from the knee injury,” Millard said. “Without him, we only beat Davis and Sunnyside.”

Junior Adrian Cabrera was the top Wildcat, finishing ninth.

“He is running really well. He had a great race. We had some sophomores step up like we were hoping they would. Sophomore Ethan Child (22) ran really well. Sophomore Julian Ramos (23) had a really nice race,” Millard said. “Those guys were my one, two, three. I was really pleased with that. Julian Ramos, this is his first year out. Nice to see a new guy jump into varsity.

On Saturday, Wenatchee hosts the Wenatchee Invite at Walla Walla Point Park. Eastmont will be at the Apple Ridge Invitational in Yakima.

Ian Dunn: 664-7157

dunn@wenatcheeworld.com