Mead should make a spirited defense of its 4A boys title while the girls, third last year, make a run at the championship. As usual, distance events will make two-time defending 3A boys champion North Central dangerous, although the Indians have lost a lot of placers from other events the last two years. Cheney’s girls could also be in the hunt for a 2A trophy this year. New coaches include Stephanie Splater and Chase Rhodes at Lewis and Clark, Emily Blize with the East Valley girls and Linda Lanker at Coeur d’Alene.
The legacy of long-distance runners around here is well established and many medal winners return. Baylee Mires of Mead leads the way, capturing the 4A girls 800 and 1,600 with state-best times. (She also anchored Mead’s state-best 1,600 relay.) Justin Zimmerman of Ferris was sixth in the 800 but had the state’s best time in an amazing three-man battle in the GSL championships. Adam Thorne of Ferris placed in both 4A long races, as did North Central’s Ben Johnston at 3A. Shadle Park’s Andrea Nelson was a double placer but is starting the season on the disabled list. Another Highlander, Nathan Weitz, was third in the 3,200 as a freshman. Any number of runners could be contenders and never get to state because of the competition. Cody Curtis was a double placer for CdA and Kinsey Gomez, who won the state cross country title last fall, is one of the top runners in the area. Lake City has C.J. Helbling back from injury. He placed second at state cross country.
There’s not an abundance of speed in the area, but Moscow has Idaho-bound football player Jayson Washington as the defending Idaho 4A 100 champ. Corde Bailey of Rogers also placed in the 3A 100. Otherwise the headliners are girls – Ferris senior Kelsey Linn in 4A, Cheney’s Shelby Mauer in 2A and Krista Perry of Lewiston and Shaundra Scott of Post Falls in Idaho 5A.
This area has become a hotbed of hurdlers. For the boys, Mead returns a couple of state placers (Casey Monahan in 110s, Wes Bailey in 300s), Cheney’s Diondre’ Moore-Young placed in both and Moscow’s Wade Schumaker was third in the 110s as a freshman. Shadle Park’s Shayle Dezellem placed in both last year in girls 3A and in 2A, Pullman’s Nina Al-Hassan won the 300s and Cheney’s Emily Stralser was fourth in the 100s.
The only defending champion in the area is from Idaho, CdA’s Shae Carson in 5A girls discus. That could be a good event at Saturday invitationals with Rebecca Bauman of Post Falls, Moscow’s Margaret Behre, Sandpoint’s Christina Johnson, Alexa Lindseth and Natalie Kyllo of Ferris and Chelsea James of Pullman all state placers. Boys seem to be stronger in the javelin. Top returners include Levi Taylor of Lewis and Clark (who was fourth at state when the GSL had three 200-foot throwers in the top five), Zach Ames of East Valley and Hovhannes Melkonyan of West Valley. Kjelby Oiland of Ferris, second in the shot put last year, didn’t turn out in order to concentrate on preparation for a college football career.
It all starts with Spokane’s fifth 7-foot high jumper A.J. Maracich, although he was third in state at 6-10. The champion from our area was Colville freshman Tasha Luu in the 2A girls. Cheney has DeAngelo Jones and Nathaniel Youmans back as placers in both the long and triple jumps. West Valley’s Bailey Wold placed in the 2A girls pole vault and triple jump. Wold isn’t the only returning pole vault medalist, because that’s another event that has been exceptional. Nine of the last 13 4A boys champions were GSL competitors, with three in the top four last year, although all were seniors. Tasha Clark of Mead (third) and Emma Vidman of CV (sixth) are 4A placers.