Andrew Kimpel at Pasco

Andrew Kimpel, Junior North Central High School, 2nd place 3A 16:05
North Central High School Boys, 1st Place 3A

North Central has taken 1st place for the last two years and 2nd place for the two years before.

The Team’s The Thing

Andrew Kimpel is a coach's dream and  a model for every ‘just about average’ runner out there.
Here’s the news, Andrew Kimpel finished up his freshman year around 19:00.  Yes that is correct, he wasn’t a 16:32 freshman, or even a 17:06 Freshman, like his teammate Andrew Wordell.  He showed no great promise or extraordinary talent for this job.  So what happened.

The secret is, what happened to Andrew Kimpel could happen to any one of the tens of  thousands of ‘Just about average’ high school runners at any track or xc meet around.

Coach Jon Knight might have seen something in Andrew Kimpel, as a freshman, late in the season he was approached in the halls at school, ’How about Cross Country?’ We’ve all heard it, many of us have tried it.  ‘Good way to keep in shape for basketball!’

Andrew came late to his freshman season, jumped right in, not knowing what to expect from the sport or himself.  At the All City Meet, Andrew placed 22.  20 got a medal.  That was the magic moment.  Andrew realized that he could have been 2 places better.  He left that meet with a new dedication to doing what he could to become the athlete. he is today.

“I’m going to do this right”

Right meant 50-60 miles per week of summer training.
Right meant rearranging his schedule to make time to run, to make time to show up with the team.

Right meant pushing himself and finding ways to encourage his teammates to push themselves.
Hard practice, hard running, hard won.

Andrew Kimpel, as a freshman found himself on a team dedicated to climbing out of a 2 year run at 2nd place in the State Meet.  His place in time on this team probably instilled the critical trait to his success.  The task to be done was not going to happen on the back of one  super star. The task at hand required a strong, dedicated and driven team.  A team where every success and failure was important.  As important as Andrew Kimpel’s 2 place failure at 22nd in the 2005 All City Meet, at 19:00 and change.

A lot happened this year to the North Central team.  They took a long hard look at their long time rivals Mead and Ferris. They realized if Mead and Ferris can do it, so can North Central! They began to embody their desire to not settle for the #2 berth.  Through a team movement sparked by a team full of ready athletes and guided by a great coach, North Central beat Mead in the GSL Four Way dual on Sept 19.  This was the first time in 20 seasons that North Central beat Mead.  Andrew Kimpel lead his team to victory, 2 seconds behind Kelly Lynch of Mead.  NC -22, Mead -34.

This was big, the team was supercharged and left a blaze across the NW from Idaho to California.  Nationally the team is ranked 3rd.  The trips to NTN and Footlocker should be very exciting.

In the background  was the Seattle Prep locomotive, deliberately chugging toward Pasco.    Seattle Prep was a driven team , also uneasy in 2nd place.  

Coach Knight, and the boys used all of this.  They were proud and confident for what they were doing, encouraged by hard wins and eager for hard contests.  They also knew that state was going to have to be a hard fought win.  Seattle Prep was a hungry team of equal competitors.  The possibility that Prep could pull this out from under North Central, may have been, in the end, the reason they didn’t.

Coach Knight encouraged his team to always enter the race as underdogs, never get overly excited for victory and always fight as hard as you can.

Andrew placed 5th last year at state, with a 16:23
This year he place 2nd with a 16:05.

I asked him about the race.  What happened, what he took from it.

Ryan Prentice pushed the race at 1.5 miles.  Up to this point the pace was brisk but unremarkable, a pack of 10 or so guys were settling in and Ryan shot out 30 yards as everyone watched.  Andrew hesitated as he sized up Ryan Prentice, they all knew he had been hurt and none were sure what he could do in this race.  Andrew thinks the others figured he would flash out, as Andrew als thought, for just about 3 seconds.  Then he decided it was not his day to sit back and gamble.  Andrew surged ahead and managed to close his gap on Ryan to only 3 seconds. Remarkably no on else followed Andrew.  In the final 20 yards as Ryan took one look back to assess the race, Andrew closed the gap by nearly half the distance.  In the end Andrew ran out of turf.  
Andrew felt like he made a small mistake in hesitating and that may have cost him the race.  It surely cost us a great show.  Ryan Prentice and Andrew Kimbal in a 2 mile neck to neck showdown!

The team is the thing, Andrew spearheaded his North Central Team to a first Place finish in the 2007 3A State championships.  86 points ahead of Seattle Prep.

Andrew will be running at Borderclash in his second appearance along with 3 other of his teammates.

The North Central Boys will be running at NTN on DEC 1 in preparation for the Footlocker Nationals at Balboa Park. On Dec 8.