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In an Oct. 17 file photo, the North Central girls cross country team takes off at the starting line of a Greater Spokane League race at Manito Park. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

State cross country: North Central’s girls give record-setting performance in 3A meet

PASCO – It wasn’t perfect for the North Central girls cross country team on Saturday, but it was the most perfect race in Washington 3A history.

The Indians finished with a team score of 21, the lowest score on a 5,000-meter course for girls or boys.

Sophomore Allie Janke paced the Indians, winning in 17 minutes, 59.10 seconds, 30 seconds faster than Kennewick’s Geraldin Correa.

“I am really happy with how today went individually and as a team. I am really proud of everyone,” Janke said. “We are really excited and just ready to have a party on the way home.”

Coach Dempsey Ortega and his team were a point off the record last season, winning the 3A title with 42 points.

“Our team had specific goals for this weekend and the first goal of course was to get a second straight title,” Ortega said. “The second goal was to beat the all-time record at state and we were thinking maybe 32 would be possible and we scored 21 points.”

This season, the Indians easily surpassed the State 3A record (Glacier Peak, 41 in 2010), beating second-place Kamiakin by 113 points, the largest margin of victory in state history.

“We definitely had big goals for this race and we knew that sub-41 was totally in our wheelhouse and that we had the potential here,” Janke said. “It was really exciting getting that point total, because that was a big goal for us this season.”

The 21 points are the fourth lowest across all classifications, including the defunct 3-mile run (which was changed to a 5K in 1997).

St. George’s girls teams scored 18 and 19 points in 1993 and 1994, respectively. There was also a 20-point performance from the Carroll (now La Salle) girls in 1982. Those races were all 3 miles long.

NC’s third goal was to have a state champion and Janke fit the bill Saturday.

Last season’s winner, NC’s Erinn Hill, took third at 18:34.10.

“The last goal was to have all five of our scorers in the top 10, which is impressive,” Ortega said.

Mia Hill, Marie Taylor and Amelu Ruff finished eighth, ninth and 10th, respectively, to give NC all five of its scoring runners a top-10 finish.

“ … Marie Taylor, our No. 4 girl … she had an outstanding performance and our fifth runner today – and they only say you are as good as your fifth runner – Emelu Ruff took 10th,” Ortega said.

Now after reaching the 21-point threshold, can the Indians push closer to the perfect 15?

“It is a good possibility. They are that strong and they are healthy and they are just committed to each other,” Ortega said. “I have always felt honored to work with such great young athletes. I’ve been doing this now for 15 years. I have always had good athletes … but this group of six girls has been so dedicated from the summer up through now.”

In 4A, the Lewis and Clark girls (103) placed second behind Glacier Peak (77). Naomi Butler led the Tigers with an 11th-place finish (19:00.90).

On the boys side, Central Valley (96) grabbed its second consecutive second-place finish, falling just short of Tahoma (94). LC was fourth with 113 points.

LC’s Wil Smith was the top finisher from the area (fourth) in 15:25.60. CV’s Ryan Kline placed fifth in (15:32.70).

In the 3A boys race, NC (74) placed second to Kamiakin (37). NC’s Leif Swanson took seventh (15:53.80).

West Valley, second place last year, won the 2A girls title after beating Bellingham in a tiebreaker. Annika Esvelt led the Eagles, finishing 23rd (20:08.50).

Pullman’s Eliason Kabasenche (15:44.70) was champion among 2A boys. Teammate Roman Romanyuk (16:08.50) was fourth.

It was a title sweep for Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) in 1A. The boys (113) tied Cascade (Leavenworth) but won on a tiebreaker. The girls (108) took down King’s (114).

Gideon Swanson’s 13th-place finish led the boys and 14th-place finisher Madelyn Buckley (19:37.70) led the girls for Lakeside.

Gavin Merritt of Tekoa-Rosalia placed third (16:31.30) among 2B/1B boys.

CV’s Jackson Atwood won the boys wheelchair race, beating Phillip Croft of Valley Christian. Hannah Dederick of CV took first in the girls wheelchair race.