Kamiakin boys hope to run back to state

SOURCE

This story was published Thursday, October 26th, 2006

By Rene Ferran, Herald staff writer

The Kamiakin football team isn\'t the only one with an eye on a return to the state playoffs this fall.

The boys cross country team, ranked ninth in the state, is one of the top contenders for a 3A state berth this weekend at the 4A/3A Eastern Regionals at Franklin Park in Yakima.

Senior Brad Young was 2 years old the last time Kamiakin sent a team to state in 1990. On a team with no stars of the likes of Matt Topping, he\'s the Braves\' best bet to qualify as an individual after finishing second at last week\'s Columbia Basin 3A district meet in Wenatchee.

\"Brad has stepped up in all the big meets for us this year,\" said Kamiakin coach Matt Rexus. \"He had a great summer, and it\'s starting to show at this time. If Brad is to finish where we think he should, it\'ll go a long way to breaking our 16-year drought.\"

Young has a trophy from his elementary school days winning the mile at an all-school competition. Still, he hadn\'t heard of cross country until the day at Desert Hills Middle School when over the loudspeaker it was announced that they were looking for people to join the program.

\"I figured I did well running long distances, so I tried out and had fun,\" he said.

Last year, Young was the Braves\' top finisher at regionals in 29th place as a young squad finished eighth in the team standings. Over the summer, he and his teammates -- all but one of whom returned -- got together twice a day at an area park to run.

They knew with Kamiakin dropping down from 4A to 3A, the Braves no longer would be butting heads with national powers Ferris, Mead and Central Valley -- not to mention former Big Nine rivals Richland and Eisenhower -- to vie for a state berth.

\"With Ferris and Mead, there was just no way unless something catastrophic happened,\" said Young, who is applying to the Naval Academy and hopes to become a Marine helicopter pilot. \"But now we think we have a real good chance of showing what we can do. It\'s exciting. For a lot of us, it\'s our senior year, and we want to go out with a bang.\"

North Central, ranked No. 2 in the state, is the favorite to win the regional title. Kamiakin and Mount Spokane, ranked eighth, figure to vie for the region\'s second berth.

\"I\'ve been telling the kids all week, whoever shows up Saturday with the fewest problems has the best chance,\" Rexus said.

4A/3A Eastern Regionals

Where: Franklin Park, Yakima.

When: Saturday. 3A girls, 11 a.m.; 4A girls, 11:30 a.m.; 3A boys, noon; 4A girls, 12:30 p.m.

At stake: The top 3 4A teams and 15 individuals and top 2 3A teams and 10 individuals qualify for state.

Here\'s a look at the prospects of area runners at the rest of this weekend\'s district and regional meets:

3A girls

Defending state champion West Valley actually dropped behind Mount Spokane in the most recent rankings -- the Wildcats are No. 2, WV third -- and with North Central ranked fifth, it\'ll be a tough task for either Kamiakin or Southridge to grab one of the region\'s two berths.

Individually, the Southridge duo of sophomore Anne Steagall and senior Christina Lee, Kamiakin freshman Rachael Gerboth and sophomore Tina Miller, and Hanford sophomore Megan Dart all will contend for one of 10 spots.

4A boys

The only question is with three nationally ranked teams in the field -- No. 1 Ferris, No. 11 Mead and No. 21 Central Valley -- what scraps will be left for individual runners to pick up? Richland senior Tyler Noland should finish in the top five and qualify; outside of that, two with long-shot hopes of making the top 15 and qualifying are Walla Walla senior Bowe Ebding and Richland sophomore Benn Fussner.

4A girls

Richland and Walla Walla both could get through in what looks to be the most wide-open of the four regional races. The Bombers, ranked ninth, won a tight district meet in which the top five teams were separated by 17 points. Richland has no stud runner, but its pack had only a 30-second spread at districts.

2A

Grandview senior Brittnee Sanchez, the state champion two years ago, has struggled a bit this year but still is the area\'s best state hopeful. Teammate Jose Mendez, a sophomore who qualified last year, has an outside chance in the boys race.

CWAC districts

Where: Selah HS.

When: Saturday. Girls 11:30 a.m., boys 12:30 p.m.

At stake: The top 3 teams and 15 individuals qualify for state.

1A

The SCAC meet could produce a host of teams and individuals from the Mid-Columbia. Connell\'s boys won the dual-meet title, while Kiona-Benton was second and Royal third. All three could sweep the team berths.

On the girls side, Ki-Be and Warden claimed shares of the duals title and should grab berths. Royal\'s Cara Wieldraayer and Connell\'s Melissa Gibbons are contenders for individual berths.

SCAC districts

Where: Apple Ridge Run, Naches.

When: Saturday. Girls noon, boys 12:45 p.m.

At stake: The top 3 teams and 15 individuals qualify for state.

B

Tri-Cities Prep has a pair of freshmen -- Samuel Mota-Martinez in the boys race and Carina Leon in the girls -- who will be in the hunt for state berths along with Dayton\'s Tyler Stevens. Dayton\'s girls will battle Pomeroy for the second spot behind Asotin.

BML districts

Where: Pomeroy.

When: Today.

At stake: The top boys team and 5 individuals and top 2 girls teams and 10 individuals qualify for state.

IMC

Hermiston\'s girls are ranked No. 1 in the state and the boys third. Both are good bets to claim one of two team berths.

IMC districts

Where: Sorosis Park, The Dalles.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

At stake: The top 2 teams and 4 individuals not on a qualifying team advance to state.

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