It is common for high school freshmen to have immediate impact in girls cross country. This year is no exception.
The intent for one, Katie Knight – daughter of North Central boys coach Jon Knight – was to run below the radar.
“We’ve just tried to keep things calm,” he said. “I purposely didn’t have her do a lot. I was hoping for steady growth.”
Obscurity proved impossible, beginning with her successful debut at the Silverwood Coaster Cross, through three GSL races (one league loss to Mead standout Baylee Mires) and last weekend’s victory at the Richland Invitational.
“I really didn’t know if she’d be this good this early,” Knight said on Monday.
Katie didn’t start training seriously until eighth grade, he said, although she’s been around the sport because of his coaching.
Instead, she’s done strength work in such family related activities as wood cutting and back packing. As a result, said dad, her VO2max oxygen consumption capacity – a runner’s horsepower as it were – is high.
Genetics hasn’t hurt, either. Knight was a distance star in his day. So, too, is his cousin, former East Valley and current Montana State standout Nick Atwood, with whom Katie hiked mountains.
Wednesday, she’ll face Shadle Park’s league champs and another precocious GSL freshman with a distance heritage, Shadle Park’s Kendra Weitz.
Alpha and Omega
The cross country season began at Audubon Park for state boys powers and league unbeatens Ferris and North Central and the GSL season ends there Wednesday with a title on the line.
Expect it to become part of league lore.
“It’s become like us and Mead years ago,” said Saxons coach Mike Hadway of the upcoming meet.
“It will be great – like the old days,” said Knight, recalling when he ran for Ferris and NC pulled out a thrilling one-point victory on the strength of its back-end runners.
When they met earlier, based on dual results, Ferris won 24-32, but times were comparable.
Adam Thorne ran a course record last week at Ferris that Hadway said could convert to a sub-15 minute run at state. NC’s Ben Johnston is unbeaten in three league meets. Behind them, their running mates will be the final determinant.
“I think it will come down to one or two individuals from one team or the other having a good day and pulling it out,” said Knight. “If we avoid the flu we’ll give them a good shot.”
Hadway said he already has cause for concern because a couple of his runners are under the weather.
“We’re going to have to be ready to go and I know they will have their guys ready to go,” Hadway said, stating the obvious when asked to assess the meet. “It’s so hard to say. I will just say if our 3-4-5 guys are ahead of theirs we’ll be OK.”
Helping their own
Central Valley football players spearheaded a benefit fund-raiser in memory of Andrew Swank, the Valley Christian player who died from injuries suffered in a football game this fall. They will present a check to the family Wednesday at an assembly at Valley Christian School.
No rest for the weary
Football: The final three weeks will test the mettle of six Greater Spokane League 4A teams vying for three playoff berths.
Every week is a battle for survival in the Great Northern League where six teams are after three state spots.
Unbeaten leader CV (5-0 in league, 5-1 overall) faces favored Ferris (4-1, 5-1), Friday at 8 p.m. at Joe Albi Stadium, and Gonzaga Prep (4-1, 5-1) hosts Mead (4-2, 4-2) in this week’s features.
West Valley (3-0, 6-0) is at Colville (1-2, 3-3), Cheney (3-0, 4-2) hosts Deer Park (1-2, 4-2) and Clarkston (2-1, 3-3) is at Pullman (2-1, 2-4) as teams jockey in the GNL.
“This league, top to bottom, is amazing,” said Cheney coach Jason Williams, whose team rallied late to beat Colville last week.
Volleyball: Two weeks remain. Unbeaten Gonzaga Prep (6-0) hosts once-beaten Mt. Spokane (5-1) tonight, 7, in the GSL.
Soccer: Mead is at University, Wednesday at 7 p.m., in the taut GSL, with two weeks remaining. Cheney can just about wrap up the GNL today with a win over visiting second-place WV at 4.