Washington Girls XC Preview

      Amy-Eloise at WESCO

Last fall was a highly successful season for girls from the state of Washington with two girls earning the ultimate end-of-the season trip to San Diego for the Foot Locker national championships.  Both Maddie Meyers and Kendra Weitz return this year to lead a stellar group of performers, who also made headlines during the track season during spring.   The overall quality of the young ladies is so strong that up front they compare with the much larger state of California, as the spring track season showed.   A return from the Arcadia meet in California last spring certainly did not make the competition for Maddie Meyers or Amy-Eloise Neale any easier.

      We will start with Meyers, who as a two-time Foot Locker qualifier has already moved into historic company in Washington.    It is far more difficult to qualify for Foot Locker, where one can only make it on their own merit, than most people are aware and in the 32 years of the Kinney/FL series only Carissa Seward of Goldendale has ever qualified twice like Maddie.   When you think of some of the great Washington runners like Annette Hand (Peters), Sarna Renfro, Brie Felnagle & Megan O’ Reilly to name a few, their managing to make nationals twice is most impressive.  The interesting thing about Ms. Meyers is that she can run a blistering pace all by herself, like she did last fall in the 1A division, where her time of 17:33 was almost two minutes better than her closest challenger.  Despite running away from her competitors her time was just off the top time of the day.   If you have ever seen the Mt. SAC course, where the West Regional is run, there is no question that Maddie can handle hills along with distance.  Both Marissa Hielkema & Jess Mildes,  who placed second & third respectively in 1A, return in the division.

     Sarah Reiter of Lindbergh returns in 2A to defend her crown after running 18:02 last fall.   Sarah won by over two seconds last fall but she will have to face  the other four members of the top five in the division, which is no small task.   Back to challenge Reiter is Marina Roberts of Kingston (18:26), who finished second.   Also returning are Sanne Holland of Cheney, Reagan Colyer of North Kitsap & Brittany Gappa of Squalicum, who took third through fifth last fall.  Sehome is the defending champion & they are always tough, but they will have to replace their leader Katie Delahunt.   Squalicum lost a few runners to graduation yet still should be tough.

      Normally one looks to the large-school division to see the greatest quantity of quality runners, but this year, like last, the 3A division is loaded.   The junior class alone in the division may in time prove to be the greatest ever in state history, when all is said and done.   Leading the way is Amy-Eloise Neale, who won the division as a freshman and sophomore, and last year had the girls’ top individual time of the day with her  17:31 clocking.   Amy went on to have a solid spring and, like Maddie, competed in the steeplechase at the World Junior meet.   Right behind Amy quite literally is Katie Knight of North Central.  Katie ran 17:38 at state literally pushing Neale to the state’s best time.   As strong as her fall campaign was Katie has moved to a higher level this spring as evidenced by her New Balance meet & the US Junior 3K, where she placed third.   Look to Katie to give Amy a real challenge this fall for individual honors.   Katie Bianchini placed third last fall with 18:03 and would certainly be the top runner on most teams & even states, if she did not run for Glacier Peak behind Neale.   Her presence gives GP the top 1 – 2 punch in the northwest and one of the best in the nation.   Glacier will be formidable as a team for sure but they need to replace their third (Brenna Condon) & fifth (Sarah Whybark) runners, so overall depth could be an issue but they will be very hard to top in Washington.    While Erin Hegarty, who was close to qualifying for Foot Locker and was fourth at State moves on to Baylor, Kendra Weitz returns to Shadle Park to lead that team in a challenge to GP.  Shadle incidentally loses only one key runner so they should be closer this year in a challenge.   Kendra, of course, qualified for Foot Locker and along with her brother Nathan, became part of the first brother-sister combo to ever qualify for the meet in the same year.   Indeed, as far as I know, only one other pair of sister-brothers has ever qualified over time.  Kendra had an even stronger track season than XC and she is not afraid to challenge the best and take the race to them.  If she trains with Katie Knight, as they had planned this summer, things could be most interesting.   The division should also witness the return of sixth through the ninth place finishers from last year and importantly it includes Katie Morris of Shadle, who ran 18:34.  Also returning are Michelle Fletcher & Stephanie Rexus of Kamiakin plus Addi Johnson of Peninsula.  Eleventh place finisher Brookline Young of Mt. Spokane will also be on hand to challenge a very strong field of returning veterans.

      Last year Anastasia Kosykh of Eastlake had a brilliant freshman campaign, which was highlighted by a second place finish at State.  Champion Tansey Lystad moves on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this fall, so Anastasia’s time of 17:50 gives her a twenty second margin over Chandler Olson at least on paper.    Chandler is not afraid to take on the best, as evidenced by her 19th place finish at Foot Locker West last fall and we anticipate a duel between Chandler & Anastasia at State.   Those two are in an interesting position, because Minna Fields, Baylee Mires, Priscilla Timmons, Lucy Cheadle & Jasmine Johnson, who placed fourth through eighth respectively, will all be running in the college ranks this fall.  That leaves Allison Keenan of Lewis & Clark, Rachel Atwood of Auburn Riverside & Myra Chavez of Eisenhower (9th-11th) as the anticipated challengers along with Sydney Allen (14th – 18:46) of A C Davis.   In the team race Eisenhower returns three key runners including Chavez but has to depend on some new runners.  Both Eastlake & Tahoma along with Lewis & Clark have key runners to replace as well, so it should be fairly wide-open on paper.   Then again Bellarmine coach Matt Ellis has led his team to State for the last 14 years and this year he will have depth behind Daryl Phill, BP has four of their top six back and adds a key runner from the track team, so we look for Bellarmine to have a real shot.  They may not have the firepower upfront that they had in 2004 with Brie Felnagle & Nicole Cochran but this should be a very solid team.  

       .    Of course the great unknown is those, who will compete, as freshmen.  If last spring was any indication Alexis Fuller of Union will be one to watch.    As noted 2010 was an excellent year for the Washington girls.   This year looks to be a very special one as well with a fair number of young ladies, who have more than reasonable national capabilities and hopefully aspirations.   Most of the leaders are back and with the exception of 4A, the bulk of the supporting cast is back as well.