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Derline learning to lead as Kentridge runner
Being a cross country star wasn't really on Kentridge High senior Isaac Derline's mind when he went to his first practice during his freshman year. But now he's running 16-minute races and captains the team.
"That last invite showed how much the hard work paid off these last four years," said Derline who helped the Chargers tie for second in the South Puget Sound League subdivision meet last Saturday.
Derline placed 17th with a time of 16:39.17. Sophomore teammate Jacob Zielke took 12th in 16:32.79. Kentridge will compete Saturday in the Westside Classic 4A district meet at American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood.
It took the lanky senior, who's starting on a goatee, more than 20 minutes to run his first 5K race during his freshman year. Now he's shortened it to 16 minutes.
"Freshman year I never thought I'd be here right now," he said. "After my first race I thought I'd be happy to break 20 minutes as a senior."
He didn't think he had potential as a runner, having come in last in the 800-meter relays in seventh and eighth grade. He instead tried out for baseball as a freshman but didn't make the cut.
At his mother's urging, he tried out cross country and was immediately pulled in by the friendliness of the team.
"I just fit in the group and throughout the whole year just got better and better, even though I wasn't running good times, it was just a lot of fun," he said. "No matter who you were in school, when you got to cross country we were all just kinda the same."
The team provided Derline, who describes himself as an introvert, with a social circle during his first year of high school.
Derline believes that the friendliness in cross country runners comes from the personally competitive nature of the sport as opposed to the externally competitive nature of games like football and volleyball. Because athletes are less worried about competing against each other, they don't feel as threatened by newcomers and are more welcoming.
"I think a lot of it is about having fun and not getting caught up in the competition," Derline said. "On our team we like to maintain that family atmosphere."
Being on the team helped Derline foster an interest in running, and he's gradually ingrained it into his life over the last four years.
During his sophomore and junior years, Derline became more focused on running and being a leader among his peers.
"I felt like I had a responsibility to become a role model for younger grades," he said. To this end, he became the go-to voice for encouragement and help for his peers. His goal over the those years was to be "somebody your peers can look up to, someone they can go to for anything. You can be the person they go to no matter what."
Developing a leadership style hasn't been completely easy, he said. Among the biggest aspects he's had to work on were developing a commanding leadership style and voice. As a shy kid in middle school, he's had to adjust to be more outspoken and outgoing.
On his way out of high school, Derline is looking to groom the next group of leaders and runners, and has a few runners in his mind that he offers leadership advice and guidance to.
While he doesn't have any plans for what he wants to study in college, he is certain that he'll join a running program. Among the school's he's looking at, Seattle Pacific University has invited him to look into its program. Whether it's near or far, high profile or low, he'll keep running.