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Originally published Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 7:03 PM

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Seattle Prep's Hardy cruises to 3A state title in boys cross country

After Seattle Prep's Joe Hardy crossed the finish line at Sun Willows Golf Course on Saturday, he had to wait 13 seconds to give the second-place...

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...any relation to former Seattle Prep basketball player Steve Hardy (1977-1981)? MORE

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PASCO — After Seattle Prep's Joe Hardy crossed the finish line at Sun Willows Golf Course on Saturday, he had to wait 13 seconds to give the second-place finisher, Mount Spokane sophomore John Dressel, a handshake.

Hardy, who was dominant in winning the Metro League and Sea-King 3A district championship, ran the 3.1-mile Sun Willows course in 15:18, beating his 2011 time by three seconds. Dressel ran it in 15:31.

"It feels good," Hardy said. "I'd like to improve more, but the conditions weren't perfect. I feel good, though."

But something was missing, Hardy said, noting that the championship wasn't the same without North Central of Spokane junior Kai Wilmot.

Wilmot was scratched from the race because of a lingering knee injury. The decision to sit him Saturday may help him get healthy for the Nike Regionals next week.

"It just didn't feel the same," Hardy said of Wilmot's absence. "He's been my competition this entire year. He's been my favorite person to run against, and it's always fun to run against him. It's always a big challenge."

Hardy didn't know that Wilmot wasn't running Saturday until moments before the race started. Once he found out, his strategy changed.

"When I heard [Wilmot] wasn't running, I just went for it and took it from the start," Hardy said.

Last year, Hardy finished fourth in state and Wilmot came in eighth. The top three runners from the 2011 3A championship graduated, leaving Hardy as the top returner.

And without the perception of competition that Wilmot would have provided, Hardy made it his race.

"We tried to get him ready and we just couldn't get him there," North Central coach Jon Knight said of Wilmot. "So we had to pull him back."

Despite Wilmot's absence, North Central won its seventh consecutive 3A title. The Indians had seven runners place in the top 20 and scored 38 points. The next closest was Kamiakin with 75.

"The kids really came through and ran great," Knight said. "We had some real breakthroughs."

Notes

• Class 2A was dominated by the city of Bellingham — Sehome of Bellingham took first with 81 points, while Bellingham came in second (93) and Squalicum of Bellingham was third (103). The Mariners have won three titles in the past five years.

Senior Patrick Gibson from Squalicum of Bellingham repeated as the 2A champion. His time was 15:13, beating his 2011 time of 15:28.

• Central Valley of Spokane won the Class 4A championship with 89 points.

Gig Harbor had two runners finish in the top 10 in 4A — Wolfgang Beck finished second (15:16) and Logan Carroll (15:38) seventh. But the Tides' title defense finished short as they came in third.

Mead of Spokane senior Andrew Gardner ran the fastest time of the day, finishing the 4A race in 15:02.

• Senior Dillon Quintana of Mount Baker won the 1A title.

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