There was no way the North Central boys cross country team was going to lose on Wednesday, not with the Greater Spokane League title on the line, not with perfect conditions at Plantes Ferry Park and certainly not with a chance that anything less than the best could cost a chance at a fifth straight state championship.
So they didn’t.
With the four GSL 3A teams gathered, which made it a gathering of four of the top five ranked teams in the state, the Indians sucked the life right out of what should have been a dramatic race.
Behind the 1-2 finish of Vince Hamilton (15 minutes, 46 seconds) and Casey Adams (15:51) on the 5,000-meter course, the Indians blitzed University 21-35, Mt. Spokane 20-39 and Shadle Park 18-45.
“Obviously, our main priority was U-Hi, because it’s the GSL title race and we were both undefeated,” Adams said. “We knew they were going to run hard. We knew who we had to get in front of to score points.”
By the end of the second mile, the team outcome was pretty certain and the individual race wasn’t much different. Shadle Park standout Nathan Weitz surged at the midway point and there was no reason to chase him down.
“I knew if he keeps that pace, I can’t go that fast,” Hamilton said. “He got ahead of us, but he kept the same (lead). That final hill … I pushed as hard as I could. I topped the hill off as hard as I could and I saw I was getting closer and closer. Before I knew it, I was right next to him.
“I always want to go for a win. I’ve never actually won a race. I’ve won like a league meet … but not like a big meet. I’ve gotten second and third like five times. This is sweet.”
Weitz has been sick, and even missed a big showdown with Mead’s Andrew Gardner two weeks ago.
“Last week I had a similar kind of race,” Weitz said. “This week I was feeling better for a longer period of time. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m going to have to check. I hope it’s not going to be this way at regional.”
Adding to the drama was the fact this was a qualifier for regional in Wenatchee on Oct. 30, with only the top two teams advancing plus the top seven individuals not on a qualifying team.
“We knew we were going to have to run hard,” NC coach Jon Knight said. “We knew they were going to come to run. This is GSL. It’s harder to win a GSL title than it is to win a state championship. We had to put on the all black today.”
Knight’s not suggesting the state title is in the bag. A lot can happen in two weeks, but a team can’t go for a title without getting out of the GSL safely.
NC ended up with 29 points, U-Hi 48, Mt. Spokane 63 and Shadle Park 92.
Among girls, NC’s Katie Knight coasted to the win in 18:38. Shadle, with four runners in the top 10, swept the dual scoring and easily led the way to regionals. The Highlanders had 34 points, Mt. Spokane 42, and U-Hi and NC 72 apiece.