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Track notes: NC’s Knight sets sights on successful senior season

Katie Knight enjoyed a recent week in Poland, coming away with a great appreciation for the country’s food among other things.

The North Central standout runner earned the trip to compete in the IAAF Junior World cross country championships by placing fourth in the USAT Junior National championships Jan. 12 in St. Louis. The top six qualified for the trip.

Her time in the 6-kilometer race in St. Louis was 19 minutes, 53 seconds.

At the World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, she finished in a time of 21:08, placing 28th overall. She was third among her USA teammates.

A future teammate at the University of Washington and friendly rival, Amy-Eliose Neale of Glacier Peak, ran for Great Britain. She placed 21st.

It was the second international race for Knight. Last year, she took a trip to Scotland.

Knight enjoyed one of Poland’s staple foods – sausage.

“They have lots of sausage,” Knight said. “At the hotel the breakfast included cool cheeses and sausages. They don’t have a lot of cereals and breads. There was lots of cool stuff to eat.”

She left on March 19 and returned March 25, two days before the Greater Spokane League dual track season began.

Knight said she raced well in Poland.

“I was really pleased,” she said. “It was a tough race. I’ve never been in a big meet like that. I didn’t know where I was supposed to place because I didn’t know what the competition would be like. And I haven’t really run many 6Ks. It turned out really great.”

Knight also enjoyed spending some time with Neale. On the return leg of the flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Seattle, Knight and Neale sat together.

Knight and Neale have gone head to head in the 3A ranks since they were freshmen. They’ll go against each other one final time at state in late May.

“We’ve become really good friends,” Knight said. “I’m really excited to be teammates with her next year. We have a really good freshman class coming in.”

Knight is looking forward to an outstanding final track season. Last year, as it turned out, she came down with mononucleosis but didn’t discover it until after the season.

Still, Knight captured state titles in the 1,600- and 3,200 meters.

“It was a tough year,” she said. “We figured I came down (with mono) sometime after the Pasco Invite in mid April. Pasco was my last good race. My workouts had gotten really bad and I wasn’t able to run as fast as my training earlier in the season suggested.”

On top of that, Knight, an honors student, was carrying a heavy academic load.

“I was taking four AP (advanced placement) classes,” she said. “It was quite a relief to learn that I had mono. I was starting to believe I was just getting slower. All in all, it was a good experience. Some high school athletes never experience working through an injury or getting back on your feet after something like that.”

Her early training indicates a solid senior season.

“I want to get a lot of PRs (personal records),” she said.

Hurdler recovering

Lakeland hurdler Kaiden Kelsey suffered a nasty spill in the 100-meter high hurdles at the Christina Finney Relays in Post Falls last Thursday.

Kelsey suffered a skull fracture when she landed awkwardly and her head hit the track. She spent a couple of days in ICU.

“She’s home now and doing better,” Lakeland coach Lee Libera said. “It was pretty ugly at the time. It’s as bad a crash as I’ve seen in a long, long time. She had some bleeding on the brain.”

Kelsey is Lakeland’s best long and triple jumper and second best high jumper behind two-time 4A state champ Jordan Ward.

“It was a freaky deal,” Libera said. “I don’t think she’ll be doing any hurdling any time soon.”

Libera said Kelsey will be out at least six weeks and perhaps the season.

“It sounds very encouraging,” Libera said. “It was a scary couple of days.”

Early returns

A number of athletes have posted impressive times and marks in early meets.

Here are some of them: Jesse Monteon of West Valley, discus (163 feet, 7 inches); Eddie Gonzalez of University, high jump (6-8); Darcy Stamper of Colfax, hj (6-6); Andrew Morgan of U-Hi, hj (6-6); Cole Jensen of Shadle Park, hj (6-6); Jordan Ward of Lakeland, hj (5-5); Lauren McCluskey of Pullman, hj (5-4); Tora Luu of Colville, hj (5-4); Taylor Cai of Colfax, discus (122-6); Mariah Cunningham of Central Valley, long jump (18-3); and Keith Williams of North Central, 800 (1:56.48).

• The Lewis and Clark girls won the West Valley Invite with 111.5 points. Coach Stephanie Splater was impressed with the strong start. She reports the biggest freshman turnout (32) in her four years as coach. “We’re a completely different team this year,” she said.