PASCO – Each North Central girls cross country runner on Saturday sported the No. 21 on her left calf, written in felt pen.
It was meant as a reminder of the team points the Indians scored in last year’s State 3A cross country championships.
If a teammate saw another’s leg with that 21 during the race, it helped push her to run harder.
Maybe it worked, because NC had the first three runners across the finish line, its five top scoring runners in the top nine, and ended the day with its third consecutive State 3A championship.
The Indians finished with 20 points, the best score in 3A history.
A perfect team cross country score is 15, so the Indians were pretty darn close to perfect.
“Winning never gets old,” NC senior Erinn Hill said.
Champion Allie Janke agreed.
“It always feels sweet,” Janke said. “And we beat our point total.”
Janke repeated as state champion, covering the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes, 26.8 seconds.
Hill – who won the state title in 2017 – was right behind her, placing second at 17:41.7.
The pair led the field from the outset, as they continued their competition with each other.
“I’d say it’s a friendly competition,” Janke said. “But at the end of the day, we’re happy for each other.”
“At the end of the day, we’re on the same team,” Hill said.
The pleasant surprise was the finish of Amelu Ruff, a senior teammate, who improved her position on each mile marker. She was ninth after 1 mile, fifth after 2, and placed third in 17:50.8.
Marie Taylor (sixth) and Mia Hill (ninth, but eight points scored because an individual runner without a team finished ahead of her) sealed the deal as the Nos. 4 and 5 Indians runners.
Janke wasn’t the only individual state champion from Spokane.
Lewis and Clark senior Wil Smith pulled away from the leaders over the final half mile to win the state individual championship in 15:03.
Smith stayed a few steps behind a group of leaders through the first mile.
By the second mile he had moved into second place, staying right on the hip of Eisenhower senior Jonas Price – the leader of the field for the first 2 miles.
That’s when Smith – who finished fourth at the state meet in 2018 – lost patience.
“Coming around the horseshoe on the shoulder (between miles 2 and 3) I told myself it was time to go,” Smith said. “I could tell (Price) was lagging. He’s a tough runner. I’m thrilled (with the win), but it hasn’t sunk it yet.”
What made the race more impressive is that two other local runners – University senior Jacob Easton and Central Valley senior Tyler Hunter – finished second and third, respectively.
Smith had no idea after the race’s end.
“It’s amazing,” he yelled. “Spokane pride!”
Gonzaga Prep’s Jonas Bears finished fifth, and LC’s Patrick North was 10th, giving the Spokane area a great performance.
Camas won the team title with 53 points. Tahoma finished second with 97.
Kamiakin sophomore Isaac Teeples broke away from the pack in the final half mile to win the individual title in 15:18.1.
Teeples helped Kamiakin win its third consecutive team title, as the Braves scored 34 points. Bishop Blanchet was second with 52 points.
NC placed third as a team with 86 points led by Isaac Morris in fourth in 15:29.1. Teammate Nathan Carter was sixth in 15:33.3.
Issaquah junior Julia David Smith easily won the individual title, covering the course in 17:26.2.
University’s Aayianna Fuller was the top local placer, finishing seventh in 18:32.1.
Redmond won the team title with 86 points. Camas was second with 107.
Central Valley junior Jackson Atwood was the boys winner in the wheelchair race, covering the course in 6:51.65.
Sophie Munter, a senior from Ferris, was the girls wheelchair champ in 8:03.61.