The cross country season begins with a bang at 11 a.m. Saturday when three ranked boys teams in a national magazine’s preseason poll face off at Audubon Park in the Tracy Walters Invitational.
Host North Central went from preseason No. 1 last year to the real thing at season’s end by winning the Nike Nationals.
This year Ferris assumes the mantle in a poll reported earlier in The Harrier Magazine. NC is picked 14th and Kamiakin 45th in the top 50.
The three are joined by Olympia, Bellevue, Coeur d’Alene and Mt. Spokane, led by standout Allan Schroeder.
Don’t necessarily count out NC’s Indians in the race for a Greater Spokane League championship. Based on last year’s state times, Ferris and NC would be tied after their first three runners finish.
What sets them apart is that NC graduated three runners who were part of the second- through fifth-place finish at state. The Saxons bring back their entire seven-runner team.
“It’s a different group, but we’re progressing nicely,” Indians coach Jon Knight. “You can’t expect Ferris not to be tough and ready go to. We’ll give them a go Saturday and see where we are.”
Ferris made a jump from midpack GSL finisher to regional champion and third in State 4A.
The girls run at 10:30 a.m. and include Shadle Park, Mt. Spokane, Lewis and Clark, Central Valley, Coeur d’Alene, Richland and Seattle Prep.
•The Saxons and Indians are the No.1-ranked 4A and 3A boys teams in state in a preseason coaches poll and Mt. Spokane is fourth. Shadle and Mt. Spokane girls are 2-3 in 3A. Also fourth are Cheney (2A) and Lakeside-Nine Mile Falls (1A), with Republic and Northwest Christian 1-2 in B boys. Central Valley, Lakeside and St. George’s are fourth in other girls polls.
If people thought the traffic jam was bad getting out of Albi Stadium last Friday following Mt. Spokane-Mead football, consider the possibility this week. There’s not one, but two games of such early-season magnitude.
In a meeting of postseason aspirants, the opener pits Mead (0-1, 0-1) against Lewis and Clark (1-0 overall, 0-0 in the GSL).
They are two run-first, defensive-minded teams. Lewis and Clark’s Tigers have been bolstered by the transfer of defensive line standout David Lee from Gonzaga Prep.
LC won last year 28-7. Mead can’t afford a second league setback.
Following is Ferris versus G-Prep. Between them last week they scored 103 points and allowed three against 3A foes in two of three GSL games that tested the new WIAA 45-point-lead rule that keeps the clock running.
The matchup pits college-coveted athletes, quarterback Connor Halliday of Ferris and junior Bishop Sankey of G-Prep, against each other. Ferris won last year 37-13.
This is also the first of successive weeks when 3A teams jockey for playoff advantage.
East Valley hosts first North Central, then Shadle on Fridays. Shadle plays Rogers at 6:30 tonight and next week NC plays Mt. Spokane.