Two days before her showdown with Kingston star Ruby Roberts, Sequim's Alli Cutting got the worst asthma attack of her life. Halfway though last Wednesday's race, it didn't seem to matter, as the Sequim junior caught Roberts atop Robin Hill Farm Park's meadow.
But that asthma came back, wiping out Cutting's chance to leg out a win against the defending 2A cross country champ.
In similar fashion, illness and injury took tolls on both Sequim's boys and girls squads, helping North Kitsap sweep both boys and girls team honors at the Olympic League showdown Oct. 1.
Despite fighting the illness bug himself, Sequim senior Kenny Russell fended off a strong field to post a win with a 16:16 finish while teammate Ben Ohnstad was fourth at 16:39.
Sequim's boys finished with 42 points, 14 behind North Kitsap but well ahead of Kingston.
Sequim's girls, who beat Kingston five times at various meets last year, couldn't overcome a number of run-down runners, falling to both North Kitsap (39 points) and Kingston (42).
Sequim's Audrey Lichten finished seventh at 19:36 and Laura Moser eighth at 19:53 while teammates Zoei Zbaraschuk (13th, 21:01), Christina Bruce (16th, 21:36) and Alyssa Stratton (19th, 23:17) rounded out the Wolves' top finishers.
"Alli was a little off," Sequim coach Harold Huff said. "(But) the fourth and fifth runners have to pick it up."
Cutting, for one, was disappointed with how her body responded.
"On Monday, (the asthma) was worse than it's been in a long time," she said. "I couldn't breathe out; it was scary. But I never had the thought, not to race. That idea just doesn't fly with me."
Aiming to be ahead of Roberts atop the meadow hill, Cutting kept within striking distance on the downhills, one of Roberts' specialties, and even moved ahead atop the meadow hill. But after that, Cutting said, her breathing labored, even signaling to her parents the need for asthma medicine.
"After the top of the hill, my breathing got tight," Cutting said. "After that, I was just spent. I'm discouraged - mentally, it's hard to lose to anyone. But I know that this isn't going to keep happening."
Things weren't nearly as difficult for Russell, who powered his way to a win by three seconds on his home course, one that features two brutal uphills.
"I tried to take it one hill at a time," Russell said, "(and) get rid of them on the hills."
The Wolves also got strong runs from Ohnstad, Alex Clifford (11th, 17:52), Tyler Wilson-Walters (12th, 18:04) and Alex Jenkins (14th, 18:12), despite the illness bug hitting nearly all of them.
"I think (Robin Hill) is the hardest in the league," Wilson-Walters said.
Huff said he needs some of his boy runners to put in more time; he asked Russell to organize a long weekend run to help boost some of his runners' stamina.
"The boys overall are doing pretty good," Huff said, highlighting improvements by Clifford and Ohnstad.
Up next for Sequim is an Oct. 9 league meet in Silverdale against Olympic and Port Townsend; P.T. features the No. 1-ranked 1A boys team in the state.