The notion there would be a race between defending state cross country championship teams Wednesday at Manito Park was quickly dispelled. It was business as usual for the North Central boys.
The 3A Indians (6-0), with seven successive state titles, left no doubt who was the better team. Placing six of the first seven finishers they buried defending 4A champion Central Valley (4-2) 18-41.
The ease of NC’s victory surprised coach Jon Knight, particularly in light of the fact that the junior varsity boys needed a tie-breaker in order to continue a six-year unbeaten string of 67 victories.
“I think our guys were kind of fired up,” Knight said. “The jayvee race was kind of a wakeup.”
Tanner Anderson led from the outset and his teammates were in good shape early, bunched behind him in a pack with the Bears. But two thirds of the way through there was little doubt who the team winner would be.
By the time they reached the finish, Anderson, with a big lead, was glancing over his shoulder to see what was transpiring behind him.
“I just wanted to know where my team was and how we were going to do as a team,” Anderson said following his easy victory. “I was not really worried as much as an individual as for the team.”
Prior to the race, people knew that NC’s Anderson and Kai Wilmot would finish one-two in one way or the other. Wednesday was Anderson’s turn, 16:25 to Wilmot’s 16:33.
“If he wins, he wins and if I win, I win,” Anderson said. “We just laugh and have fun.”
The outcome, they figured, would depend upon where their No. 3 runner finished. As it turned out, it was a team affair.
“What we’re beginning to see happening is our sophomores gaining junior experience,” Knight said. “The goal is by the end of the season that they have junior experience and we can compete with anybody around.”
Next week, the league’s top three teams, all 3A, unbeaten NC and Mt. Spokane and once-beaten University, complete the regular season at Audubon Park.With nationally ranked Wildcat John Dressel and teammate Jacob Vandenberg’s effort last weekend in Richland, the race might be interesting.
“I’d say it’s going to be a challenge for us,” Anderson said.
But if North Central runs as it did Wednesday, Knight added, the Indians will have a good shot.
In the girls race that preceded the state titlists showdown, Lewis and Clark’s Gracie Ledwith blistered the field, winning by 43 seconds at 19:34. But unbeaten Central Valley won 24-33 over the Tigers and 18-41 over NC.
Around the GSL: At Mead, the Panthers’ boys and Ferris girls won their dual meets. Peter Helman of Ferris topped the boys with a time of 16:09. Anisa Allaet of Ferris won the girls race in 19:52. … At Finch Arboretum, the University boys and Gonzaga Prep girls picked up team victories. Shadle Park’s Nicholas Hauger won the boys race in 16:37. Shadle Park’s Lauren Dunnell edged teammate Ashley Hauger by a second, winning with a time of 20:18. … At Siemers Farm, Mt. Spokane’s boys and girls earned dual-meet wins over Rogers. Ian Figon won the boys race in 16:44, while the Wildcats’ Micaela Kostecka led the girls with a time of 19:55.