Cross country at a glance
This story was published Thursday, September 7th, 2006
By Rene Ferran Herald staff writer
Columbia Basin 4A
Returning champions (Big Nine) -- Dual meets, Walla Walla (boys) and Eisenhower (girls); Districts, Eisenhower (girls).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: Tyler Noland, sr., Richland. Girls: Eisenhower, team (Ann McCarthy, jr.; Jessica Montoya, soph.); Richland, team (Kiley Johnson, soph.; Brianna McMullin, jr.; Annie McDonald, soph.); Kristen Ballinger, sr., Wenatchee; Sandra Martinez, soph., Davis.
Prognosis -- Same old, same old. The CBL and Greater Spokane League figure to get three state berths, and two are virtually locked up by powerhouses Mead and Ferris, Nos. 1 and 3 in the nation according to Harrier magazine. That leaves a host of teams fighting for one spot, with Walla Walla and Richland both figuring in that mix. Wa-Hi returns four of its top runners off last year's dual-meet champs, including seniors Bowe Ebding and Trent Sislow. Richland has Noland, which gives the Bombers a great head start, but has to replace Nos. 2 and 3 runners John McDonald and Kevin Joyce. A pair of sophomores, Benn Fussner and Caleb Parker, could fit the bill, said coach Bruce Blizard.
The biggest news on the girls side is that senior Cydney Knight, who led the Bombers to a state berth last year, transferred from Richland to Pasco late in the summer and will not run for the Bulldogs to concentrate on basketball. The Bombers, ranked fifth in 4A in the preseason, still figure to be the team to beat, thanks in part to the addition of two transfers -- Allison Mills from Riverside, Calif., and Danielle Amparan from Clark County, Ind. -- plus getting junior Caroline Hedel, a state placer in the high hurdles, and 5:34 miler Annette Oliveras, a junior who missed all of last season because of injuries. "Any one of five girls could be our No. 1," Blizard said. "It depends a lot on the type of course." Richland will need all five at their best considering five teams were in the preseason top 10 (Central Valley, Mead, University and Wenatchee are the others), and never count out perennial power Eisenhower.
Columbia Basin 3A
Returning champions -- Dual meets, West Valley (MVL boys and girls); Districts, Kamiakin (Big Nine boys) and West Valley (MVL girls).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: None. Girls: West Valley, team (Lisa Olander, soph.; Stephanie Shuel, jr.; Rachael Johnson, sr.; Alejandra Borunda, sr.; Aubrey Packard, soph.; Stacy Sundborg, sr.); Tina Miller, soph., Kamiakin; Brittani Moehnert, sr., Eastmont; Haley Tank, soph., Hanford; Megan Dart, soph., Hanford.
Prognosis -- Reclassification turned this region into perhaps the toughest in the state, no small task considering KingCo schools have won five of the last seven boys state titles and had a girls team finish first or second six of the last eight years.
But look at the boys side. North Central, state runner-up the last two years, returns four of its top seven runners and is ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Mount Spokane and Kamiakin drop down from 4A, and East Valley returns senior Tyler Thatcher, who placed fourth at state a year ago.
The Braves won the final Big Nine district title and return six of their top seven runners, including Nos. 1-3 -- seniors Brad Young and Jake Griffiths and junior Derek Scott. "We're not where we want to be yet, but if we're healthy, I like our chances," said Braves coach Matt Rexus. Southridge gets a boost from sophomore Andrew Gonzales, a Sunnyside transfer who placed in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the regional track meet. Hanford returns senior Lance Kindle, who just missed out on a state cross country berth a year ago, while Sunnyside has three runners who placed well at the jamboree.
The girls side, meanwhile, could be even more of a dogfight at regionals. The defending state champion, West Valley, lost two-time titlist Michelle Schubert to graduation, but the Rams still have back super soph Olander (fifth at state in cross country and the state 800 and 1,600 champion in track) and Shuel. Mount Spokane lost all-worldly Megan O'Reilly to graduation but has six runners back, led by sophomore Courtney Zalud (16th at state in '05). NC, a state qualifier a year ago, has five runners back, led by senior Mary Graesser. And Kamiakin, which returns sophomore Tina Miller and seniors Sami Bazzell and Erinn Walter (who is out with a mysterious illness she picked up during a late-summer trip to Nicaragua) while adding freshman Rachael Gerboth, can't be forgotten. "You've got to figure West Valley and Mount Spokane are the favorites," said Braves coach Shaun Suss. "But if we get everybody healthy, we can compete with anybody." Hanford, with Tank and Dart back, and Southridge, with jamboree winner Christina Lee back and MacKensie Rockstrom eligible after transferring from Kennewick a year ago, could have improved teams and still get buried in the standings.
Returning champions -- Districts, Ellensburg (MVL boys) and East Valley (CWAC boys and girls).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: East Valley, team (Jeff Knutson, sr.; Bobbylee Pottenger, jr.; Joe Trammel, jr.; Tayler Jones, sr.; Nick Washburn, sr.); Ephrata, team (Jesse Throgmorton, jr.; Seth Hale, jr.; Kort Laughlin, jr.; Dan Martell, sr.); Nick Peters, sr., Toppenish; Jose Mendez, soph., Grandview; Steven Schramm, sr., Selah; Isak Bergman, sr., Ellensburg. Girls: East Valley, team (Melissa Jeffery, sr.; Angie Perrotti, soph.; Kalica Chase, jr.); Ephrata, team (Brandi Eloff, jr.; KayeLynn Joachims, sr.; Katie Neff, jr.; Reann Lewis, jr.; Maria Guzman, jr.); Toppenish, team (Stacey Kobes, soph.; Anna Bazan, jr.; Michelle Sanchez, jr.; Ana Ambriz, jr.; Jennifer Farley, jr.; Tiffany Broderson, jr.); Quincy, team (Whitlee Young, jr.; Rachael Heikkila, jr.; Colleen Knodell, soph.; Samantha King, jr.; Meghann Sundwold, jr.; Kristen Bierlink, jr.; Bonnie Knodell, soph.); Brittnee Sanchez, sr., Grandview.
Prognosis -- With reclassification, three state teams of a year ago -- Cashmere boys and Chelan's boys and girls -- dropped down to the 1A ranks. That doesn't mean Mid-Columbia runners will be flooding the finish chutes at state, though. East Valley, which finished third at state in both boys and girls, returns a strong nucleus to each team, as does Ephrata, which also qualified a boys and girls team to state. Quincy returns all seven girls from its state qualifying team and Toppenish has six back. Sanchez looks to rebound from a disappointing 20th a year ago at state after winning the district title. Prosser senior Nectaly Barbosa, the two-time 3A state champion in the 800, just wants to qualify for state in cross country after injuries derailed his regional races the last two years.
Returning champions -- Districts, Royal (boys) and Zillah (girls).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: Royal, team (Rigoberto Jimenez, jr.; Luke Tonnemaker, jr.; Gonzalo Lopez, soph.; Rodrigo Montoya, jr.; Lucas Warren, jr.; David Floren, jr.); Andy Breymeyer, sr., Naches Valley; David Delgado, sr., Highland. Girls: Zillah, team (Amanda Valera, jr.; Samantha Gonzales, sr.; Nyna Nelson, jr.; Rachel Torrez, sr.; Korie Duce, soph.); Cle Elum, team (Sierra Young, sr.; Taryne Talerico, sr.; Whitney Loyer, jr.; ); Warden, team (Katie McPartland, sr.; Kaitlyn Yamane, soph.; Britney Yamane, sr.; Svenja Meyhoefer, sr.; Jessica Jachetta, jr.); Olivia Castleberry, jr., Kiona-Benton; Rachel Chism, jr., Highland; Caiti Schmitz, sr., Highland; Cara Wieldraayer, soph., Royal.
Prognosis -- Royal's boys captured the district's lone state berth last year and would have had a shot at placing at Sun Willows if Humberto Jimenez, third at districts, hadn't missed the state meet with a broken foot. He returns along with six of the seven runners who competed at state, led by his brother Rigoberto, who placed third, and Tonnemaker, who won the Little Cross in Pasco on Monday. Connell and Kiona-Benton have had solid programs the past couple of years but little to show for it because of the strength of the CWAC; dropping down to 1A will help their state chances.
On the girls side, Warden has joined Zillah as the dominant SCAC power, qualifying for state for the fourth time in five years in '05. Ki-Be, a state qualifier two years ago, and Highland, which returns a pair of top-30 state placers in junior Rachel Chism and senior Caiti Schmitz, could challenge.
Returning champions -- Districts, Asotin (boys and girls).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: Asotin, team (Grant Fowler, jr.; Eric Davis, sr.; Nathan Ambroson, jr.); Tyler Stevens, sr., Dayton. Girls: Asotin, team (Jodi Moss, sr.; Jessica Johnson, soph.; Tracy Martin, sr.; Emily Andrews, jr.) None.
Prognosis -- Asotin swept the league's lone state berths last year, and nothing should threaten the Panthers' dominance this season. Junior Grant Fowler was 12th in the B boys race last year. Dayton senior Ivanna Saldivar was the area's closest to a state berth last year, placing seventh at districts.
Returning champion -- Summit (boys).
Returning state qualifiers -- Boys: Summit, team (Tosch Roy, soph.; John O'Hollaren, sr.; Gatlin Neuman, sr.); Hermiston, team (Krieg Mueller, sr.; Walter Juarez, sr.; Kersee Lind, sr.; Jordan Ringe, soph.; John Ngo, jr.). Girls: Summit, team (Alyssa O'Conner, soph.; Sarah Wrightman, sr.; Bethany Laubacher, sr.; Hillary Sharpe, soph.); Jennifer Macias, sr., Hermiston; Michelly Foley, jr., Crook County.
Prognosis -- With 2005 district champion Redmond now in the 6A ranks, the Hermiston girls lost one obstacle to a return trip to state. Macias, a three-time top-10 finisher at state, was second a year ago and three other top-20 finishers at districts return -- seniors Melissa McKinley and Rebecca Berger and junior Leslie Macias -- from a team that missed a state berth by three points. The Bulldogs boys, 10th in the Northwest in the preseason Nike Team Nationals rankings, are a hungry bunch after failing to defend their IMC title and finishing a disappointing fifth at state last year.