YAKIMA HERALD Prep cross country preview capsules

SARA GETTYS/Yakima Herald-Republic
Eisenhower's Cody VanDeBrake at the Class 4A regional at Franklin Park.




FAVORITE: Eisenhower.
No-brainer here. The Cadets were 6-0 in conference duals last year and return five, including '06 pace-setter Cody VanDeBrake. Ike put its entire varsity team of seven in the top 16 at last year's district meet and claimed seven or the first eight places in the JV meet. Bryan Simison was the highest placing freshman at last year's regional meet and broke 10 minutes for 3,200 meters in the spring.


AROUND THE LEAGUE: Davis returns four from a team that was 3-3 in conference duals and third at district. The Pirates will be led by two standout juniors — Alfredo Villasenor and Emmanuel Contreras, who broke Davis' sophomore school record for 1,600 meters last spring. ... Richland was second to Ike in duals and at district last year and returns three of its top four.

TOP RETURNERS: Cody VanDeBrake, Eisenhower, sr.; Benn Fussner, Richland, jr.; Bryan Simison, Eisenhower, so.; Caleb Parker, Richland, jr.; Michael Higgins, Walla Walla, sr.; Craig Johnston, Eisenhower, sr.; Emmanuel Contreras, Davis, jr.; Blake Thomas, Eisenhower, sr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, Mead; 2, Gig Harbor; 3, Central Valley; 4, Ferris; 5, Lake Stevens; 6, Eisenhower; 7, Tahoma; 8, Kentwood; 9, Jackson; 10, Redmond. Others: Walla Walla, Snohomish, University.



FAVORITE: Richland. Ranked No. 8 in the first state poll, the Bombers graduated only one runner off a team that won district and grabbed a state berth by placing third at regional. Richland still doesn't have a front-runner but a scoring pack capable of a 30-second split.


AROUND THE LEAGUE: With juniors Sandra Martinez and Shawna Schooley once again leading the way, Davis could be a serious threat if it develops some depth. Martinez, the defending district champ, is one of the state's elite and Schooley joined her at state last year. The Pirates also return their Nos. 3-4 runners in Norma Melchor and Hannah Kaluzny. .. Sophomore Rachel Southwick and junior Ann McCarthy lead the return of six varsity runners for Eisenhower, which should find itself in a tight group chasing Richland with Davis, Wenatchee and Walla Walla.

TOP RETURNERS: Sandra Martinez, Davis, jr.; Hannah Kiser, Wenatchee, so.; Shawna Schooley, Davis, jr.; Rachel Southwick, Eisenhower, so.; Ann McCarthy, Eisenhower, jr.; Danielle Amparan, Richland, sr.; Kylie Johnson, Richland, jr.; Denali Molitor, Walla Walla, so.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, Gig Harbor; 2, Redmond; 3, Jefferson; 4, Eastlake; 5, Snohomish; 6, Bellarmine; 7, Central Valley; 8, Richland; 9, Tahoma; 10, Wenatchee. Others: Davis, Mead, University, Marysville.






FAVORITE: Southridge. District champ Andrew Gonzales returns for his junior season and the Suns also have back their No. 2, Kyle Casey. This is a very close call because Kamiakin could offset Southridge's pacesetting with superior depth. The Braves graduated three of their top four but they also claimed seven of the first eight places in last year's district JV race.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Sunnyside returns junior Jacob Rogers and sophomore Jordan Esqueda, who took turns leading the Grizzlies in the postseason last year. Also back is wrestling standout Isaac Romero, who ran third for Sunnyside at district last year, and junior Gracen Gonzalez, who's coming off a solid track season. ... West Valley was 1-5 in conference duals but hope to bounce back with the return of district leader Tim Kruse, who made the state 800-meter final in May. If juniors Ryley Hausken and Brian Stump form a group with Kruse the Rams could improve considerably.

TOP RETURNERS: Andrew Gonzales, Southridge, jr.; Ross Lindell, Eastmont, jr.; Nathan Wallace, Hanford, sr.; Kyle Casey, Southridge, sr.; Jacob Rogers, Sunnyside, jr.; Micah Spaun, Eastmont, jr.; Tim Kruse, West Valley, sr.; Matt Bare, Kamiakin, sr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, North Central; 2, Seattle Prep; 3, Mt. Spokane; 4, Skyline; 5, Auburn Riverside; 6, Camas; 7, Bellevue; 8, Lindbergh; 9, Issaquah; 10, Kelso. Others: Blanchet, Capital, Kamiakin.


SARA GETTYS/Yakima Herald-Republic
West Valley's Lisa Olander (547) and Squalicum's Bronwyn Crossman (529) runs stride for stride at the Class 3A state meet with West Valley's Stephanie Shuel (549) right behind.



FAVORITE: West Valley. The Rams absorbed some significant losses, namely four-time state qualifier Rachael Johnson and two other scoring seniors. But with the return of Lisa Olander and Stephanie Shuel, who placed second and fourth at state a year ago, West Valley clearly merits the No. 5 preseason state ranking. Junior Aubrey Packard should lead the group behind WV's leaders.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Kamiakin, ranked No. 10, could give the Rams a push with three of its top four back from a team that finished second to West Valley in duals and at district. ... Sunnyside coach Robin Bryson says her numbers are up and she has an ace in senior Brittany Messmore, who was 10th at regional and qualified for state last year. ... Southridge graduated its leader but returns its next five after missing a state berth by five points.

TOP RETURNERS: Lisa Olander, West Valley, jr.; Stephanie Shuel, West Valley, sr.; Rachael Gerboth, Kamiakin, so.; Anne Steagall, Southridge, jr.; Tina Miller, Kamiakin, jr.; Megan Dart, Hanford, jr.; Brittany Messmore, Sunnyside, sr.; Michelle Henson, Kamiakin, sr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, Squalicum; 2, Mt. Spokane; 3, Columbia River; 4, Mercer Island; 5, West Valley-Yakima; 6, Newport; 7, North Central; 8, Holy Names; 9, Auburn Riverside; 10, Kamiakin. Others: Blanchet, Capital, Sumner, Southridge.




FAVORITE: Ellensburg. Isak Bergman wasn't the only senior on last year's district title team, but the retooled Bulldogs could make a charge to their third straight CWAC crown with the leadership of senior Matt Nodine and junior Kevin Aubol. Coach Jeff Hashimoto hopes to fill in the losses with up-and-comers who won the district JV team title last year.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Ellensburg earned a No. 9 preseason state ranking and Selah is
No. 10, so you can see the thin line. The Vikings placed third at district last year behind Ellensburg and East Valley and return four of their top seven, including juniors James Currell and Nate Lynch. Selah had by far the most underclassmen of last year's CWAC state qualifiers. ... East Valley ace Jeff Knutson has graduated but the Red Devils should have another strong front-runner in senior Bobbylee Pottenger, who was the CWAC's top junior in '06 and a two-time state qualifier. Second-year coach Owen Assink has some holes to fill but he's got two other state veterans in addition to Pottenger. ... Toppenish, which missed qualifying for state last year by one place, has five varsity spots to replace. Coach Charles Cost said he'll have mostly sophomores on varsity. ... The most improved team could be Grandview. If the Greyhounds can fill in behind '06 state qualifiers Jordan Sanchez and Jose Mendez they could make a big move. ... Wapato doesn't have Grandview's front-end speed but the Wolves could also make major strides this season. With Eleazar Reyes leading the way, Wapato placed sixth at district last year with only one senior.

TOP RETURNERS: Bobbylee Pottenger, East Valley, sr.; Matt Nodine, Ellensburg, sr.; Kevin Aubol, Ellensburg, jr.; Jordan Sanchez, Grandview, so.; Jose Mendez, Grandview, jr.; James Currell, Selah, jr.; Nate Lynch, Selah, jr.; Dustin Richman, Prosser, sr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, West Valley-Spokane; 2, Sehome; 3, Burlington; 4, Lakewood; 5, Cheney; 6, Bellingham; 7, Cheney; 8, Riverside; 9, Ellensburg; 10, Selah. Others: Ridgefield, Sequim.



FAVORITE: Selah. Without a senior in the scoring five and a freshman leading the way, the Vikings placed seventh at state last year. That earned them a promising No. 6 spot in the state poll to start this season. Sophomore Mick Martinez was the district runner-up in '06, finishing one second behind Ephrata's Brandi Eloff.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Expect Toppenish to be hot on Selah's heels and capable of beating the Vikings, which they did by three points for last year's district title. The Wildcats return their entire varsity lineup with a steady leader in two-time state qualifier Stacey Kobes, a junior. .. Ephrata has Eloff and its No. 2, Lisa Heer, back and could make a run at Selah and Toppenish. ... There was a 30-point drop from Ephrata to fourth-place Ellensburg at last year's district meet, but the Bulldogs have a huge turnout with 28 girls and a solid returning 1-2 in juniors Natalie Idler and Harper Miller-Rubin. ... East Valley graduated four-time state racer Melissa Jeffery and will rely on seniors Katie Wilson and Kalica Chase, last year's 4-5 runners, to lead the new crew. ... Quincy could make a big jump up from its sixth-place finish at district last year. The Jackrabbits had no seniors in their top five — a group that made it to state in 2005 — and have a strong leader in senior Whitlee Young.

TOP RETURNERS: Brandi Eloff, Ephrata, sr.; Mick Martinez, Selah, so.; Stacey Kobes, Toppenish, jr.; Whitlee Young, Quincy, sr.; Krista Garcia, Selah, sr.; Jay Winterfeld, Selah, sr.; Lisa Heer, Ephrata, jr.; Michelle Sanchez, Toppenish, sr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, Sehome; 2, Bellingham; 3, Riverside; 4, Cheney; 5, South Whidbey; 6, Selah; 7, Lakewood; 8, Toppenish; 9, Sequim; 10, Ephrata. Others: Hockinson, Klahowya.




FAVORITE: Royal. Seniors Rigoberto and Humberto Jimenez were a convincing 1-2 at state last year so, of course, that's a nice to place to start. The Knights should be improved in their pack since a freshman was their No. 3 last year and Luke Tonnemaker wasn't fully healthy.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The East dominated last year as Connell (9-0 in SCAC duals), Kiona-Benton (8-1) and Royal (7-2) swept the state berths, and the West teams will be hard-pressed to keep that from happening again. .. Zillah should have the best chance of cracking the East's big trio. The Leopards return the entire squad that placed fourth at district last year and that includes a tight 51-second split of their scoring five. Senior Javier Galindo was Zillah's district leader last year. ... Cle Elum returns its top five as well and has a strong leader in junior Michael Greene, who was the highest placer at state for the West teams. ... The top freshman at district last year was Cody Long of Highland. He broke 17 minutes in eighth place, and the Scotties also return two others from their top five. ... Granger had two state-qualifying underclassmen last year in Joe Salcedo and Jesse Garcia, and Asa Israel of Goldendale was the best West runner at district last year and a 1,600-3,200 state qualifier in track last spring. ... Jose Marcial of Kiona-Benton wasn't the Bears' top runner a year ago but expect big things this fall. He ran 4:32 and 9:55 in the distance races in the state track meet in May.

TOP RETURNERS: Rigoberto Jimenez, Royal, sr.; Humberto Jimenez, Royal, sr.; Cameron Robertson, Kiona-Benton, sr.; Luis Gomez, Connell, sr.; Asa Israel, Goldendale, jr.; Cody Long, Highland, so.; Michael Greene, Cle Elum, jr.; Joe Salcedo, Granger, so.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, Onalaska; 2, Lakeside-Spokane; 3, King's; 4, Nooksack Valley; 5, Royal; 6, Connell; 7, Bellevue Christian; 8, Chewelah; 9, Bush; 10, Charles Wright. Others: Tenino, Kiona-Benton.



FAVORITE: Zillah. The Leopards always seem to get hit hard by graduation but their run of district titles is up to three in a row. Coach Ken Johnson lost seven seniors — huge for a 1A school — but he returns junior Korie Duce and senior Nyna Nelson, who took turns leading Zillah in the postseason. Johnson also welcomes back Amanda Valera, who took last season off after leading the Leopards to second place at state in 2005.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Kiona-Benton will be the big threat to Zillah's streak. The Bears came within 10 points of Zillah at last year's district meet and then clipped the Leopards by three points for ninth place at state. Ki-Be returns district runner-up Olivia Castleberry and its 3-4-5 runners. ... Warden snared the district's third state berth a year ago and was always in the mix, tying Ki-Be and Zillah for the dual-meet title at 8-1. The Cougars, however, will have trouble keeping up this season after graduating three of their top four. ... Highland has the reigning district champion in senior Rachel Chism, a three-year state qualifier. The Scotties couldn't field a complete team at district last year but they've filled in nicely with Ariana Cole and Annabel Rodriguez. Cole was a promising freshman last year but a broken foot ended her season and Rodriguez competed in the state track meet last spring in her first season of running. ... Royal returns four of its top five and two state qualifiers. ... Naches Valley placed fifth in last year's district meet with no seniors and has a new coach in Carl Bivens.

TOP RETURNERS: Rachel Chism, Highland, sr.; Olivia Castleberry, Kiona-Benton, sr.; Melissa Gibbons, Connell, jr.; Kaitlyn Yamane, Warden, jr.; Korie Duce, Zillah, jr.; Lydia McCubbins, Royal, sr.; Sayra Alvarez, Kiona-Benton, sr.; Cara Wieldraayer, Royal, jr.

PRESEASON STATE POLL: 1, King's; 2, Chelan; 3, Lakeside-Spokane; 4, Bush; 5, La Center; 6, Omak; 7, Charles Wright; 8, Nooksack Valley; 9, Kiona-Benton; 10, Cedar Park Christian. Others: Zillah, Cashmere.


SARA GETTYS/Yakima Herald-Republic
Klickitat's Herschel Sanchey competes in the Class 1B/2B state cross country meet.



AROUND THE REGION: Herschel Sanchey of Klickitat and Neola Putnam of Glenwood get another shot at individual state titles after finishing second and third, respectively, last year. Sanchey is doubling up this fall as a wide receiver and defensive back for the Lyle-Klickitat-Wishram
8-man football team. Like last year, Putnam will train and race with the Goldendale program and represent Glenwood in the postseason. ... Bickleton has a pair of state veterans in junior Danielle Raschko and sophomore Junior Hernandez. ... Riverside Christian's second-year program has produced a turnout of 10 boys and six girls for coach Ken Yager.

PRESEASON STATE POLL — Boys: 1, St. George's; 2, Odessa; 3, Reardan; 4, White Pass; 5, Northwest Christian-Lacey. Others: St. John-Endicott, Bear Creek. Girls: 1, Northwest Christian-Lacey; 2, White Pass; 3, St. George's; 4, Reardan; 5, Asotin. Others: King's West, Pomeroy.

— Scott Spruill