3A State Cross Country | O\'Donoghue-McDonald does it again

PASCO — Max O\'Donoghue-McDonald cemented his place among the best high-school cross-country runners in state history with the most dominating performance of the 2006 state meet.

The Seattle Prep senior wowed the crowd with a 4-minute, 45-second first mile — he led by 20 yards at that point — and crushed the field at Sun Willows Golf Course for his second consecutive Class 3A boys individual title.

Matt Frerker of Skyline in Sammamish came in second, 31 seconds later.

\"It was beastly. Max went out harder than I thought. He flew,\" Frerker said. \"It was a tough first mile. From there, it was basically a fight for second.\"

O\'Donoghue-McDonald won in 15 minutes, 32 seconds, becoming the first 3A boy to win back-to-back titles since the course was expanded to 3.1 miles in 1997. He was a step slow of three championships, losing in a photo finish as a sophomore in 2004.

\"He\'s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of kid, a treat, a gift, that coaches don\'t get often,\" said Seattle Prep coach Doc Robertson. \"Max wants to be good, wants to get in the toughest race, face the baddest competition. He\'s driven to be good.\"

O\'Donoghue-McDonald called the moment bittersweet, already talking about missing his coach and teammates, including senior Ryan Styrk, who finished 13th after battling back from strep throat.

\"It\'s great that I won, but it\'s the last [cross-country] race [I\'ll] ever [run] for my school,\" O\'Donoghue-McDonald said. \"I have no regrets. I\'ve had a great career.\"

Also in the boys race, Ryan Prentice of Mt. Rainier in Des Moines finished third and Jeremy Swenson of Bishop Blanchet finished fourth.

Seattle Prep placed second behind North Central in Spokane for the team title. Skyline finished third and Auburn Riverside fourth.

In the girls race, Bronwyn Crossman of Squalicum won in 18:44, leading her team to the team title. Katrina Drennen of Sumner took third.

Mount Spokane took second, Columbia River third, West Valley fourth and Mercer Island a surprise fifth. The Islanders were third at districts.

The girls race was emotional for Newport\'s Caryn Heffernan, who took over this fall after longtime coaches Mitch and Mindy Leffler departed to take care of their 3-year-old son, Aidan, who has muscular dystrophy.

The Lefflers had built Newport into a girls powerhouse, with a state title in 2000 and two seconds, a third and two sixths since then. This year, Newport sophomore Jillian Altizer finished 10th and the Knights took sixth.

\"The circumstances are rough, but I\'m happy that I can continue what the Lefflers have built,\" said Heffernan, who ran with Mindy in college at Georgetown. \"What the Lefflers have built here is a program of kids that love the sport. They really race for each other.\"

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company