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Top teams handle business

Since the North Central boys didn’t do anything to hurt their chances of winning a sixth straight State 3A cross country championship …

And NC’s Katie Knight had no difficulty reiterating she can smoke anyone not named Amy Eloise Neale …

And Nathan Weitz is safely headed back to defend his individual 3A boys title …

And it’s no surprise that Mead’s Andrew Gardner easily moved on to the state meet in Pasco next weekend to try to improve on his runner-up finish, there had to be something new and different from the 3A-4A Regional on a perfect Saturday afternoon for running 5,000 meters at Wandemere Golf Course.

And yes, there was plenty to make the day interesting.

Columbia Basin teams won three of the four races, but Greater Spokane League teams earned seven of the 12 state berths.

Spokane runners also won three of the four races, and of the 28 individuals that qualified for state without being on a qualifying team, 18 were from the GSL.

As North Central coach Jon Knight said, “A great day on a beautiful golf course. What a great place for young people to be.”

3A boys

Surprisingly, this was the closest team race, with the NC Indians holding off Kamiakin 38-36. Mt. Spokane easily snagged the third spot with 59 points.

“Kamiakin was ahead of us with 200 (meters) to go,” Knight said. “You can tell when their 3-4-5 is ahead of your 3-4-5. It was very close. They ran really well.”

The difference was NC freshman Tanner Anderson – the Indians’ No. 5 runner – getting NC four spots on Kamiakin, helped by the last two NC runners squeezing in there to push the last scoring Brave farther back.

“Our guys kicked, passed a couple of guys,” Knight said. “I was telling them. That’s good. One year we went 1 through 5. It’s a lot more fun for everybody. It’s good to have good competition. It makes everyone better. Kamiakin is really coming on; Mt. Spokane is young and really coming, too.”

Weitz was surprised by his race as he pulled away in the last half-mile to beat Kamiakin’s Anthony Armstrong by 11 seconds in 15 minutes, 21 seconds.

“Before the race Anthony told me he had a partial fracture in his foot,” Weitz said. “I was surprised from that he was still racing. He did an amazing job, he also had sinus problems. It’s just crazy he was able to go through the race.”

Weitz had skipped a recent race because of a hamstring issue but declared it completely healed.

“It was the best I could have asked for,” he said. “I felt relaxed the whole way. From day to day you don’t know how you’re going to feel. There are always different factors that play in. You just have to expect anything and battle through whatever it is.”

3A girls

Kamiakin won the team title easier than Knight won the individual title. The Braves were 32 points in front of Shadle Park, while Knight went 17:57 to beat friendly rival Kendra Weitz by 22 seconds.

The excitement came after that. Shadle was one point ahead of Mt. Spokane, which was one point ahead of Southridge, with only three teams moving on.

“With all of the setbacks this year, I’ve never been more proud,” long-time Shadle Park coach Bob Isitt said. “They’re as nice as any group I’ve had and as tough as any group. We had a good week of practice. Mentally we were prepared. I thought we would have a good race today and we did.

“We’re just ecstatic we’re going. We’ve got a nice pack.”

Molly Cole, the top finisher for Mt. Spokane, gave the credit to teammate Sophie Spilker, who ran fourth for the Wildcats.

“She PR’d by like 30 seconds. She closed the gap between our three and four,” Cole said. “We knew that all the teams were really good and we just had to give it our best and we ended up doing that.”

Weitz kept the pressure on Knight until the final mile.

“It’s never like a training run with Kendra there,” Knight said. “It was a hard push today but it’s going to be nice and easy to prepare next week so it’s no big deal to go hard today.”

4A boys

Defending state champion Eisenhower had 65 points to easily outdistance Wenatchee, which had 101. Just four points back was Central Valley, advancing with an eight-point edge on Lewis and Clark.

“The kids started to believe after the first meet of the season. We only lost to an awesome U-Hi team by five points,” CV coach Kieran Mahoney said. “But after racing really poorly at Mt. Spokane, I’ve never really yelled at a team, but I yelled at them and said we don’t race like that. I took their jerseys and told them they’d get them back when they earned them.”

The Bears didn’t get varsity threads until today and the team that had a losing record in the GSL is off to state. They advanced without a star – their No. 1 runner was 15th – nor an anchor, as their No. 5 runner was 25th.

Gardner pulled away late to win by 12 seconds in 15:18.

“The time was fast, I didn’t want that. It’s not time, it’s just place,” he said. “I didn’t think I was running very fast until the last part. Time doesn’t lie. My goal was just score a point for my team, do my job.”

4A girls

Again Eisenhower, the defending state champs, had an easy time, scoring 68 points to 93 for Lewis and Clark and 100 for Central Valley.

“We ran well. That’s as good as we are right now,” CV coach Dennis McGuire said. “I think these are three pretty good teams.”

The key for the Bears was top finisher Alex Moore beating a handful of runners she trailed all year.

It was similar for the Tigers.

“There’s more there,” LC coach Mark Vandine said, pointing to senior Calli VanderWilde finishing 30th. “Calli has hamstring tendinitis. She gutted it out just to run. She couldn’t run all week. She’s helped carry the team the last three years and this was the time for the team to carry her. She was upset afterwards that she didn’t do the job. … Her teammates did lift her up. It was a team effort.”

The winner was Kaitlin Kaluzny of Davis in 18:31. The top GSL finisher was Gonzaga Prep freshman Cyra Carlson in fifth.

“I did not expect that at all,” Carlson said. “All I wanted to do was go to state. I felt great. The second I took my sweats off I felt pretty amazing so I thought I could do pretty well. I PR’d by a lot, more than I would expect.”

2A, 1A, 2B/1B

Three classifications held state-qualifying meets at Plantes Ferry Park.

Deer Park’s Daniel Amann (16:12 over 5,000 meters) and Dayde Collins (16:16) finished first and second, respectively, at the 2A regional. Cheney’s Sanne Holland (19:07) took first place in the 2A girls race. Selah won the boys team title and Cheney won the girls.

In the 1A regional, Colville’s Biagio Pietroburgo (16:49) won the boys race and Lakeside’s Lindy Jacobson (19:38) won the girls race. Lakeside swept the team titles.

In the District 7 2B/1B boys race, Alex Ramm-Hutchinson (17:17) of St. George’s was the boys champion. Republic and Davenport tied in team points, but Republic won the title by virtue of having a higher-placed finisher (sixth). The District 7 girls ran with District 9 on Thursday.