Ryan Thompson, EHS XC

One of the Ellensburg High School boys cross country runners pays tribute to fallen officer Ryan Thompson at the 2A state meet at Sun Willows Golf Course on Saturday.

PASCO — When Madison Thompson’s life went into turmoil, she didn’t know what to do but run.

Run with the ones she’s been close to, and the ones who were there for her when she needed them most — her Ellensburg High School cross country teammates.

Thompson’s father, Ryan Thompson, was killed in the line of duty on March 19, 2019.

Ryan Thompson, a Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy, responded to a call of an erratic driver and followed in pursuit. The chase ended in a shootout killing Ryan Thompson and injuring Kittitas Police Officer Benito Chavez.

“The day after it happened, I went and I ran with my girls because I didn’t know what else to do,” Madison Thompson said. “Their support has made us super close.”

Madison Thompson, a senior at Ellensburg, wrapped up her cross country career on Saturday at the 2A state meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. She helped her team win the state title for the first time in Ellensburg school history with a score of 83.

The Ellensburg girls went undefeated in league play and won districts on Nov. 2 at Apple Ridge, and carried that momentum into Saturday.

Madison Thompson recorded a time of 20:28.1 which was good for 45th place — and it was also a personal record.

Her senior teammate Leah Holmgren placed first individually, and when Holmgren was asked what was different about the girls team this season, she mentioned how tragedy brought them closer.

“We’ve been through a lot as a team with my friend Maddie’s dad passing away,” Holmgren said. “… That brought us really close.”

Each runner for Ellensburg — boys and girls — had the number 35 written in black sharpie on the back of their calves. Under the 35 was a heart with a blue line running horizontally across it. The number 35 was Ryan Thompson’s badge number and the blue line across the heart symbolizes a fallen officer.

The Bulldogs were paying tribute to Ryan Thompson and also showing their unconditional support to his daughter, their teammate, and friend, Madison Thompson.

“We did it all of track season and mostly decided it this season (cross country). But for state, I wanted everybody to have it if they wanted to. It was definitely really nice to have their support,” Madison Thompson said.

Said sophomore Kate Laurent: “That’s definitely brought us closer. We love her so much and she’s just a huge part of our team and we want to do everything we can for her. We just love her, she’s so strong.”

Madison Thompson running in honor of her father was not limited to Saturday.

“I do every day,” she said.

And without a doubt, he is watching over.


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