Washington XC Preview 2013

 

        For the past decade prep runners from the state of Washington have been at the fore-front of the national scene and this fall campaign should be no different.   It is a tribute to the true depth of talent, that in spite of the departing graduates, who have moved on to the collegiate level, the state will continue to have affair number of harriers worthy of national acclaim.   Even more important than the rankings, the state should have a number of representatives at the Foot Locker National Championship, which remains the barometer of quality on the national level.       

       It is noteworthy that the state has had at least one representative in San Diego in each year of the century starting with Michael Kiter in 2000 and running through to Andrew Gardner, John Dressel and Katie Bianchini in 2013.   The high water marks during this period are the third place finish of Nathan Weitz in 2011 and the fourth place finish of Megan O’Reilly in 2005.   Last year saw Andrew Gardner qualify for his third Foot Locker final, a relative rarity for a male runner.   Sophomore John Dressel of Mt. Spokane & Katie Bianchini of Glacier Peak joined Andrew for a trip to the Hotel Del Coronado making it a banner year for the state.  

    Hopefully this will be the year Alexa Efraimson of Camas will be allowed to race at the West Regional for Foot Locker, so she can prove she belongs with the greats, who have competed on the storied Balboa Park course, which is the test of a champion.  Harriers, who have competed in both San Diego & Portland, will readily laud the Foot Locker experience over the other meet and Efraimson, who has been on the national scene since her freshman track campaign deserves to run at Foot Locker and there is little doubt in my mind she will qualify, if only given the chance.   Alexa is the defending 4A champion and will be the favorite once again.   Alexa won the Run A Ree & at Pier Park.   Back also is Jordan McPhee of Mt. Rainier, who finished second last fall and was a Foot Locker finalist as a sophomore.  Jordan triumphed at Fort Steilacoom.   Also returning are Union sophomore Alexis Fuller, who placed third, Sophia Kane Olympia (4th  & was victorious at Capital), Alissa Pudlitzke of Camas (5th) and Rose Christen of Central Kitsap, who garnered sixth last fall.   Chandler Olson of Woodinville is the top graduate moving on and she was Foot Locker All West the previous year.   Also of note is Darryl Phil, who has led the ever-powerful Bellarmine Prep team, which has contended for the state title the past few years.  The team race for 4A shows Camas as the team to beat, given they only lose the number four runner to graduation.  Bellarmine has a solid squad retuning and should be led by Hannah Derby, while Tahoma, last year’s runner-up, should also be formidable, although they will lose their leader Elizabeth Oesterhout, who claimed ninth at state.   Another runner, who needs to be considered is Brenna Peloquin of Gig Harbor, whose sophomore year was pretty effectively washed out by injury. If she is healthy look for her to challenge as well.

 

 Alexa Efraimson leads at the 2013 Washington State HS Chamionships | Photo by: Leo Collins

      While Efraimson leads a stunning group of returnees in 4A, the 3A division will be very much different with both Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak and Katie Knight of North Central joining the Huskies of the University of Washington. Knight won the Walters, the Firman & at Richland, while Neale claimed laurels at Sundodger & Stanford.   For many that duo, which swapped XC titles the past three years with Neale claiming three, were the female face of the state for many but Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park, who qualified for Foot Locker as a sophomore, will also be missed along with the afore-mentioned Katie Bianchini.   That leaves Megan Beauchene of Kamiakin the leader of the pack in the division after last season’s fourth place effort.   Megan really stepped it up during the track campaign in the spring, as she too began to earn national acclaim.   She would certainly appear to be the runner to beat but she should be challenged by Andrea Masterson of Lakeside and Nicole Goecke of Prairie, who took sixth & seventh respectively.  Also returning is Reba Delacruz-Gunderson of Lakeside, who followed in eighth.   McKenzi Brava of Peninsula (11th) should also be in the mix.   Glacier Peak has been formidable the past few years with the duo of Neale & Bianchini leading the way but they have Mikayla Ingram (18th) to lead the remainder of their returning top five.  

          Sehome ’s Emily Pittis is but a junior this year but she is the two-time defending champion.  With the graduation of second place finisher Sanne Holland as well as Brittany Gappa of Squalicum, whose senior campaign was plagued by injury yet still fifth behind Reagan Colyer of North Kitsap, Pittis’ hand appears even stronger.   Brittany Aquino of East Valley would appear to be her top challenger after placing third eighteen seconds back.  McKall Skay of West Valley and RaynJoy Norton of Burlington-Edison, who took 6th & 7th in that order, are the only other returnees under nineteen minutes.   Sehome romped at the State meet by over 70 points and returns their entire top five.   They should rival Camas as the top team in the Northwest.

      The grand question in 1A is will this finally be the year for Hazel Carr of The Northwest School?   As a freshman Hazel placed second behind her teammate Maddie Meyers, who was a two-time Foot Locker National finalist, and then last fall she came in second again to Sally Larson of Cedar Park Christian.   Larson, who jumped a running plateau her senior year and annexed the South Whidbey Invite, maybe gone but the path is hardly clear with third place finisher Kacey Kemper of King’s back.  Last year they were separated at the end of 5K by little more than a second.   Lindsey Jacobson of Lakeside and Gabrielle Rudolph of Montesano will look to improve upon their fourth and fifth place finishes but will have to shave a few seconds to contend for victory.  Riverside and Lakeside went 1 -2 last year but both lose their second runner.

        Wolfgang Beck ran a somewhat conservative race last year at State in the 4A division.   He challenged Andrew Gardner of Mead early before dropping back to concentrate on second.  With Gardner, who had already had won record-breaking performances at Mountain West and at Concordia, joining the University of Washington, Beck has a sizable time differential over the next best returnee.  Colby Gilbert, who won at Trask and placed third at State, has moved on along with Sumner Goodwin of Lewis & Clark and Jamie Coughlin of Garfield.   That leaves Aaron Roe of Henry Jackson as the next best in placement with his sixth place finish. Roe, the victor at Capital, was only a sophomore last year so a significant improvement should be expected.   Logan Carroll of Gig Harbor finished seventh and will also be a factor along with his younger team mate Tristan Peloquin.  Tristan had an off day at State but is a very capable runner.  Not to be overlooked is Dylan Hayes of Garfield, who garnered tenth.   With Garfield also having Cameron Stanish returning they, like Gig, have three quality runners near the front and ought to contend again at State.   Rumor has Gig has quality coming in as freshmen, so who knows.   Not to be forgotten either is Peter Kesting of Olympia, who followed an off day at State by a strong track campaign.

Tristan Peloquin from Gig at the 2013 Portland Track Festival Photo by: Klotz Images

      Unlike the 3A girls, which saw all the leaders graduate, the guys 3A division is loaded with the top four finishers having another shot and six of the top seven runners on paper available to challenge.   State champion Joe Hardy of Seattle Prep leads the way. Hardy had an impressive junior campaign with victories at Sundodger, Firman and Richland.  John Dressel of Mt. Spokane followed his second place effort with qualifier at Foot Locker West and then an All American finish at nationals.   He has geared his summer training for another trip to San Diego, so anticipate him dueling in Pasco as well.   Tanner Anderson of North Central was third as a sophomore and he should be aided by the return of Kai Wilmot, who is a precocious talent and was a winner at the Walters.  Nicholas Hauger of Shadle Park   took fourth and will be yet another to watch.   Also deserving note are Andrew Foerder of Nathan Hale (6th), Oliver Reed of North Central (7th) and Ahmed Ibrahim of Kamiakin (11th).   North Central, as usual, looks like the best team in the Northwest much less Washington.

      The 2A division boasted two Foot Locker national finalists in Patrick Gibson of Squalicum and Poli Balthazar of Aberdeen.  Prior to their 1 -2 finish at state Gibson notched victories at Sehome, South Whidbey & at Mt. Baker, while Balthazar scored at Sunfair.  Also graduating were Conner Johnson of Sehome (3rd), Sean Eustis of Washougal (4th) and Joe Charbonneau (5th) of Bellingham, which leaves Devon Grove of Lake Washington the top harrier from last fall.   Logan Grndorf of Cedarcrest (10th) and Chris Fredlund (11th) of Squalicum should also be in the hunt for a title.   Sehome should be loaded once again and should defend their title.

Washington represented well at the 2013 Portland Track Festival Photo by: Klotz Images

        At 1A last fall Dillon Quintana surprised Tom Bradley of Blaine at the finish and both are gone as well as Ruben Riordan of Charles Wright and Kyle Cole of Cedar Park Christian.  Graham Peet of Northwest is the favorite on paper after his fifth place finish as a sophomore, yet he barely edged Ryan Coffman of Lakeside, who should give him a challenge again.  Andrew Ayers of King’s placed 7th and Micah Dingfield of Medical Lake came in tenth.

      With the vast array of talent in the state harrier fans can expect another exciting season of quality racing.   With another year of maturity and a strong summer of base mileage look for a number of runners to challenge once again for national honors.   Look for Washington to be represented once again at Foot Locker and we will be there to report as always.   It is the beauty of this sport that each runner can set his own goals and aspire to a personal record.   Happy trails and good luck to all no matter what your goals!