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Washington preps: Don’t count on polls for accuracy

How do you quantify success?

The issue about the accuracy of high school polls came up a couple of weeks back. I’m ambivalent about them, preferring to let the outcome on the field determine rankings.

Voting statewide is a crapshoot and nationwide even more so. But the argument was made that cross country polls are more accurate than other sports.

But is that so? A couple of rival cross country Web sites had Shadle Park’s girls ranked, respectively, third ahead of Glacier Peak and 32nd behind the team nationally. So much for scientific surety.

That piqued my curiosity, so I compared efforts by Washington’s top two 3A teams at recent weekend invitationals.

No. 1 Glacier Peak won the Division 4 race at the prestigious Stanford Invitational, placing five among the top 11 in times ranging between 18 minutes, 17 seconds and 19:37 for 3.1 miles.

No. 2 Shadle won the Mountain West in Missoula with runners finishing between first and 29th in times between 17:53.65 and 19:34.54. The Highlanders win a dual race between the two handily, 18-29.

But differences in locale, terrain, altitude, temperature and stages in training regimens have to be considered. That Glacier Peak’s times were good enough for second in the seeded race in Palo Alto is supposition because a 35-degree difference in temperatures at the starts of the respective races might have affected times.

Polls are nice for recognition. They can only be quantified when ranked teams race head-to-head.

At home in La Jolla

In 2007, Mead volleyball finished second in a La Jolla (Calif.) tournament and went on to its fifth successive state title. Two weekends ago, the Panthers returned and placed fourth. I asked coach Judy Kight for a comparison.

The Panthers lost to eventual champion Orange Lutheran 15-13 in a third game. Kight said that with a few adjustments, they could have been in the finals again.

“It was frustrating, but promising,” she said. “(They’re) coming along, which is exciting to see.”

Mead’s offense is getting quicker and its serve-reception has improved. Kight would like to see more team energy.

“We’ve been pretty businesslike, which is OK and gets the job done,” Kight said. “But volleyball is a game of momentum and we need to create and sustain that.”

They are in this weekend’s Crossover Classic at Ferris, Lewis and Clark, Shadle Park and Rogers.

Esperanza ties

A Central Valley couple had more than a passing interest in the outcome of last week’s Ferris-Esperanza game.

Cathy and Mark Whitley, whose son Brad was a multisport CV standout and now is a freshman track aspirant at Washington, are graduates of Esperanza.

“Memories come back to get you,” Cathy said.

She was in Esperanza’s first graduating class. Mark, a physical therapist who volunteers with CV sports, graduated the next year.

They wound up in Spokane because of her sister Chris, who attended Whitworth. Chris is married to Ferris grad John Sonneland.

Football continues

Valley Christian will resume its season after taking the week off following the football- related death of Drew Swank. The Panthers are at Selkirk on Friday.