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Washington preps: McLachlan achieves his dream meet

For years West Valley track and cross country coach Jim McLachlan has wanted to put on an overland meet with college teams at Plantes Ferry Park. This is the year.

Several area colleges will bring their men’s and women’s teams to this weekend’s 10th Runners Soul/Erik Anderson Invitational at the complex off Upriver Drive in Spokane Valley.

The meet honors the memory of Anderson, the Community Colleges of Spokane cross country coach who died in February when his neck was broken by a bowling pin-setting machine.

“I’ve wanted do this for the last four or five years and finally plugged in with my son Sean and Larry Beatty (coaches at CCS),” McLachlan said. “I told them this is what I want to do, this is what I’ve got – the date and the course … and maybe you could move your meet here.”

Before distance coach Jason Drake left Washington State for the Washington Huskies, he wanted to find a site to host a Pac-10 or regional meet, McLachlan said. This could show that Plantes Ferry fits the criteria.

It has already been the site of two national meets and the USA Cross Country National Championships are coming in February, featuring top runners from across the nation.

State-of-the-art timing will be used, with runners outfitted with electronic chips. Competition begins at 9:45 a.m. with a junior high race, followed by combined boys and girls freshmen. College women run a 5,000-meter race at 10:45 and the men go afterward with an 8,000. Then high school junior varsity and varsity girls and boys complete the day, with the last race at 2:30 p.m.

McLachlan wants to turn this into a high-level meet by attracting major high school programs as well as bolstering the college presence, although he’s competing with the established Mountain West Classic in Missoula and Stanford Invitational in California.

“We’re trying to make it better all the time,” he said. “But we need the GSL guys to buy in. We need a magnet. It’s such a great site.”

League favorites clash

Teams with similar styles and playoff aspirations clash at 4:45 this afternoon when 4A Ferris (2-1) meets 3A Mt. Spokane (3-0) in Greater Spokane League football at Albi Stadium. Both run spread offenses and were picked to finish 1-2 in league.

Defining games

If the Great Northern League football season resembles last year, it will be a doozy. A full slate of games Friday will define the seasons for several teams.

West Valley, which has allowed just 11 points during a 3-0 start, hosts Clarkston (1-2). Pullman (0-3) travels to Colville (2-1) in a game between last year’s top-two finishers.

Cheney was without five players sidelined for disciplinary reasons during two losses. Four were back in the 42-13 romp past Rogers. The Blackhawks open at geographic rival Medical Lake (2-1). In another rivalry, Deer Park (3-0) plays at Riverside (2-1, 0-1).

•Northeast B-11 heavyweights Colfax and Reardan tangle right off the bat. Colfax’s Bulldogs have won against two Southeast teams by an average of 25 points. The Indians have been in two nailbiters, losing 19-14 when Riverside scored three times in the fourth quarter, and beating Tekoa-Oakesdale/Rosalia 15-7 in overtime.