One of the most tradition-rich cross country regions in Washington is running for keeps this weekend.
District titles and state berths are on the line for the Greater Spokane League, Great Northern League and area small schools, many in state-qualifying meets down the road from their respective schools.
They’re vying for spots at next week’s state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
GSL and Mid-Columbia Conference teams meet Saturday at Wandermere Golf Course in the District 8 4A and 3A championships. GNL schools are in the District 7 1A meet at Chewelah Golf Course.
The District 5/6 2A meet is at Apple Ridge Golf Course in Yakima. Area 2B/1B teams will also compete at the Chewelah Golf Course in the District 7/9 meet.
District 8 4A/3A: The fourth-ranked Lewis and Clark boys and the sixth-ranked LC girls look to win the 4A portion of the meet.
The Tigers boys are paced by Wil Smith, who placed fourth at state a year ago and has a season-best time of 15 minutes, 19 seconds – the fourth-best time in 4A this fall.
Fifth-ranked Mead is expected to challenge LC. University’s Jacob Easton, seventh at state a year ago, is among the meet’s heavyweights.
Ila Davis and Naomi Butler pace the LC girls, 2018 state qualifiers who recently finished second in the GSL behind nationally ranked North Central.
The Central Valley boys (ninth) and girls (eighth) also take top-10 4A rankings into the meet.
The 3A boys portion of the meet is stacked, featuring top-ranked Kamiakin, No. 3 and state power NC, fourth-ranked Rogers and eighth-ranked Mt. Spokane.
NC won the the boys GSL title, a spot ahead of Rogers. LC was third.
Two-time defending champion NC, which features past 2018 state champion Allie Janke and 2017 champ Erinn Hill, recently wrapped up another GSL title. The top-ranked Indians will run against sixth-ranked Kamiakin and seventh-ranked Kennewick.
District 5/6 2A: Ninth-ranked Pullman boys and defending champion Eli Kabasenche will have to get past fourth-ranked Ellensburg if the Greyhounds want to earn a team title.
Cheney’s Bas Holland, sixth at state a year ago, has challenged Kabasenche all season. They finished 1-2 at last week’s GNL meet.
In the girls race, league champion Annika Esvelt leads defending 2A champion West Valley, which is unranked. Pullman’s Kylie Franklin, who finished second to Esvelt last week, was fifth at state last season.
The Eagles and Greyhound girls will face top-ranked Ellensburg in Saturday’s district meet.
District 7 1A: Talk about a tough district.
Medical Lake and defending state champion Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) are ranked first and second, respectively, in this week’s 1A boys coaches poll.
Riverside, led by standout Jamar Distel (15:32), is ninth. The three teams will slug it out for state berths on Saturday.
The defending state champion Lakeside girls are widely favored to win the district meet Saturday, but fourth-ranked Deer Park and 10th-ranked Medical Lake will also have runners in the mix.
Colville’s Alaina Stone continues to pace the league after finishing fourth at state last year.
District 7/9 2B/1B: Sixth-ranked Valley Christian, seventh-ranked St. George’s and ninth-ranked Davenport will be in the same meet Saturday.
Kettle Falls’ Easton Pomrankey, 13th at state last year, has been a steady presence.
Led by Mya Edwards, the Kettle Falls girls are ranked fifth, while St. George’s is No. 7.