By David "Hawaiian Five-Oh" Taylor
PART ONE: A GREATER SPOKANE LEGACY
PART TWO: SPOKANE HISTORY 101
PART THREE: A KENYAN STYLE
DOES HISTORY COUNT?
|FROM TRACY WALTERS TO GERRY LINDGREN, A LEGACY PASSED ON|
So here is what has occurred: this last weekend every national poll (Harrier/Dyestat/Milesplit) had a large majority of their ranked teams go down and lose to other teams that have not really done anything significant all season. From NEW YORK to CALIFORNIA. Across the board. What are we to make of it?
The easy answer is to cast blame. "We lost because of media bias", seems to be the biggest one and I will say that I have heard that from the state of NEW YORK to my own state of WASHINGTON. Listen, no ranking of any Washington team had anything remotely to due with the shakeup in New York. Additionally, as Ferris and North Central fell in shocking manner teams like Glacier Peak and Shadle Park girls were victorious in a monumental way!! So what is the answer? Well, for North Central, their top runner Ben Johnson didn't make the trip, that changes things.
Are 8 New York girls teams in the top 10? Statistically, probably not. Should a Washington team be in the top 10 for the boys? Well, consider Henry Jackson high School. they run a 1.5 mile League Jamboree featuring Jesuit of Oregon and have 6 guys average 7:36 with a 2 second spread, they follow that up with a perfect 15 point victory over league rivals running a 16:45 5k average with a 2 second spread, and then at the South Whidbey Invitational pop a 16:05 5k average on a difficult course with a 15 second spread. Find me a single team across the nation that has done that and is not in the top 10. This Jackson team is so good, historically, that they may be the historical team which will break the Spokane streak. They simply could do it this year. In reality, this may be the top team in the nation right now.
|HENRY JACKSON PERFECT 15!|
Lets take another look at Spokane, Washington. 21 straight Washington state cross country titles have been won by a Spokane School, can any other city in any other state make such a claim? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Additionally, last years National Champion came from Spokane Washington. Mead High School is from Spokane Washington along with their multiple National Titles. Consider Ferris only a few years back who placed 3rd at NXN and the great Mead teams who were in the top 5 the first few years of NTN. Do we have a Washington Bias? Well, we do have a historical and statistical relationship unfound in any clime or place across the nation.
Every decade Washington has had a great runner and team, from Gerry Lindgren in the 1960's to Matthew Davis in the 90's, led by Pat Tyson and his National Championship teams, to Shane Moskowitz and North Central. Heck, Cody Helbling of Lake City High School is only 30 minutes to the east of Spokane. So by and large Washington and the surrounding area makes an enormous impact on the national scene.
Nearly every course that is ran has been recorded for almost 4 decades. Every runner, every place,
every time credible for decades of comparison. What does it say? Ferris of 09 is better than North Central of 08. Ferris of 09 is right their with the Mead teams of the early 1990s. That is what is says. Now, they got caught in California. Why? That's the milliondollar question that cannot be answered without skeptics labeling it whining. Who knows, but as a former coach, 6 meets in two weeks can tap a young man's legs. That is a fact. It is asking a lot to face that type of adversity, HOWEVER, a coach who knows that a Championship is WON in DECEMBER may take that risk simply to create that level of adversity and accomplishment.
Shadle Park, lets talk about them. They have demolished every team they have faced and
established new historical lows for time and victory meet in and out. They travel to a Montana meet they aren't supposed to win, because as I am told, they are overrated, and yet defeat over 40 teams and tie a time set by a early 2000s team from Flathead Montana that just so happened to be led by FOOTLOCKER NATIONAL CHAMPION Zoe Nelson. A team widely considered as the greatest the Northwest has ever produced on the girls side. We are talking about a meet that has had the Legacy of Flathead put on display since the turn of this century. A school that has produced numerous
Footlocker finalists, a champion, and multiple top 5 and top 10 nationally ranked teams over two decades. Montana has a legacy few states in the nation can match! Do they have a bias when they have a great team? Certainly. Consider that this years Shadle was right with that Flathead team
|PAT TYSON OF GONZAGA U, FORMERLY OF MEAD|
without a dominant 17 flat runner! This is a team superior to 06' Billings Senior and 07' Bozeman, both top 15 teams. Consider Bozeman whose NW Regional meet was so difficult that they come in a close third to two teams who went on to place in the top 15 at NXN!
Lets talk about Glacier Peak, they destroy two straight meets with historically low 5k team averages. They get the flu, tell everyone about it, and then as expected lose to Gig Harbor as they are getting better. After resting, they state they are well, and travel to Stanford. Once there, they are denied entrance to the elite race because they "aren't good enough" and then post the second fastest time of the day, a historical mark, in the second smallest division race. Lets not rank them, right? Don't rank them, it won't change the fact that the Washington State 3A girls Championship will be the greatest duel in the history of any state outside New York.
Lets talk about North Central. They, like Ferris, were running their 6th meet in two weeks. A
remarkable feat of strength and endurance. They also didn't have their top runner Ben Johnson. Their only losses coming to the hands of Ferris. They travel to Boise and lose to a Mountain View, UT team with a 10 second spread; a renowned program with multiple National Championships. However, only a few weeks prior Mountain View ran against American Fork, UT. Despite Mountain Views 19 second spread, American Fork had 4 runners in before Mountain Views 1st runner! So, lets not rank American Fork either, and that is a shot at all those who say there is a West Coast Bias. Mountain View is good. North Central is Good. American Fork is great and just this last weekend ran the fastest 3 mile average in Utah history over a 3.01 measured course (GPS and Wheel). So, is North Central in a bad year? No. Look at what they have done historically, the only difference between them now and last year is the graduation of Andrew Kimpel. You remove Ben Johnson and there you have a perfect storm for a loss. Drop them from the rankings? Yeah right!
How about Kamiakin? This team started off the season with a narrow loss to NC at the Tracy Walters
Invite. They return to the tri-cities of central Washington and nearly perfect score their league meets. They come back to Spokane for the Highlander and on a pretty difficult course have a 13:06 team average over 2.5 miles. Had this been done at the East Coast Manhattan Invitational or on some Texas course it would have been blown up beyond proportion. Ferris had a 12:55 average! That is a whopping 15:30 3 mile average or 16:00 5k average. Find a team across the nation that has done that and is not in the top 10, you can't. Heck, Adam Thorne ran a 12:26!
How about Mead? Here is a team that has a legacy only matched by York of Illinois on the boys side of the sport. For the last two years they have come from oblivion to claim the State title from cross town juggernauts. They just "pop" at some point in the season and the team takes ownership for that legacy. So, they get beat up by Ferris and North Central and get called out by their Coach, Steve
Kiesel. They are given the challenge and the meet to do it at: The Mountain West Classic, and against all odds they beat 52 teams. Now, should they be ranked nationally? Maybe not. But should they recieve coverage for such a remarkable victory considering the odds stacked against them? Yes.
There is a Washington Bias. But it is a bias earned over 4 decades from the efforts of young men who make up a long line of excellence, beginning with Mead's Frank Knott in 1959 and progressing through the likes of Gerry Lindgren, Len Long, Randy James, Rick Riley, Don Kardong, Roscoe Divine, Curt Corvin, Chris Lewis, Andy Maris, Greg Kuntz, David Gurry, Matt Davis, Micah Davis, Skiy Detray, Stormy Schouman, Isaac Hawkins, Adam Tenforde, Michael Kiter, Jesse Fayant, Evan Garber, Jeff Helmer, Tom Wyatt, Robbie Baranyi, Taylor Nepon, Jake Riley, Max O'Donoghue McDonald, John Lafler and Miles Unterreiner, to name but a few! We have a tradition of excellence bread by legendary coaches from Tracy Walters to Leo Genest to Pat Tyson to Mike Hadway to Steve Kiesel to Bob Isitt just to name a few. We have legacys that start with Rogers High School and over four decades include the likes of Rogers, Blanchet, Mead, Ferris, University, and North Central. We have earned this bias and everything we do we rate. We earned this, and outside a few inseason hiccups, by seasons end prove ourselves worthy year in and out of everything we receive and have claimed as our own.
Bottom line, History Counts.