Full schedules & scores
From left, North Central seniors Mia Hill, Amelu Ruff, Marie Taylor and Erinn Hill run during a cross country practice on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, at Dwight Merkel Sports Complex. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Prep cross country preview: Spokane area stocked with talent again

Nationally ranked runners.

A heap of team and individual state champions.

The Spokane area’s prep cross country scene lived up to its lofty standard in 2018.

Tradition-rich North Central (3A), West Valley (2A) and Lakeside (1A) all took home team girls team titles last year, and runner-up Lewis and Clark (4A) nearly did the same in the state’s largest classification.

Lakeside’s boys also won a state title, while Central Valley (4A) and NC (3A) took second.

Much of that talent didn’t graduate, so expect similar results this fall.

One of the country’s top female runners – NC junior Allie Janke – is back to defend her individual and team championships for the heavily favored Indians, who are aiming for their third straight state title.

NC twin sisters Erinn and Mia Hill, who placed third and eighth at state, respectively, are also a big reason the Indians are ranked ninth in the DyeStat national preseason poll. Erinn Hill won the 3A title in 2017.

“We’re returning all seven varsity runners, not much weakness I can think of,” NC girls coach Dempsey Ortega said. “We need to continue to do what we have been doing the past three years and focus on staying healthy.”

Defending Greater Spokane League champion Wil Smith, who placed fourth at state in 2018 to help Lewis and Clark place fourth, is the area’s top boys talent.

Smith and the Tigers are widely expected to defend their GSL titles, according to many of the league’s coaches.

LC boys coach Michael Lee’s goals go well beyond the GSL.

“Bringing three of our top five runners back, we plan to be a strong contender in the GSL, state and nation,” said Lee, whose team checked in at No. 18 in the DyeStat national preseason poll.

4A boys

Central Valley was hit hard by graduation, losing 20 runners, after its 4A runner-up finish, but this program has the numbers to compete and brings back a key piece in Tyler Hunter (26th at state) for second-year coach Geoff Arte. …Gonzaga Prep juniors Sam Anderson and Jonas Bears, who qualified for state, return for the Bullpups, who finished fourth in the league last season. … Ferris has a pair of experienced runners – Jonah Bloom and Justin Stirpe – to lead the Saxons. … Lewis and Clark returns Smith and fellow All-GSL runner Patrick North. … Mead is ranked No. 4 in the state 4A preseason poll because it returns quality and quantity, including All-GSL selection Caleb Murphy. … University standout Jacob Easton placed seventh at state last year and is ranked fourth heading into his senior year for 15-year coach Mike Barbero.

4A girls

Central Valley returns four All-GSL selections for second-year coach Doug Pecha, including state qualifier Olivia Sine. CV may be the third-most talented team in a strong GSL. Gonzaga Prep freshman Noelani Krauss qualified for state. … Ferris looks to build off last year’s all-league season and 23rd-place finish at state, led by Halle Caviness, daughter of Ferris boys coach Chris Caviness. … Lewis and Clark took second at state last year propelled by underclassmen, including Naomi Butler (11th) and Ila Davis (26th), a big reason the Tigers are ranked second in the 4A state preseason poll. … Mead longtime coach Dori Whitford reported a core group of 12 girls who will look to elevate the Panthers. … University second-year coach Ernie Aguilar picked up a nice transfer in Aayiana Fuller, who placed ninth at state in the 800 for Hanford last spring. Sophomore Taylor Schillinger won the 800 in the GSL freshman meet last spring and should do well making the jump to cross country.

3A boys

Mt. Spokane returns five varsity contributors for first-year coach Scott Dartha, including state qualifiers Lukas Brown (22nd) and Jake Carr (33rd). North Central veteran coach Jon Knight hopes the Indians can push for a 12th state title in his tenure. They’ll ride the legs of a group of talented returners that include Leif Swanson (seventh at state in 2018) and Isaac Morris (24th). … Rogers sixth-year coach Ken Bell has high expectations coming off a fifth-place showing at state last season. The Pirates return their top seven runners, including state qualifier Issak Chol and three more seniors. … Shadle Park struggled last season as the Highlanders were the only GSL squad without a win.

3A girls

Mt. Spokane junior returners Avery Tripp and Ella Richardson were strong GSL runners for a year ago and are expected to lead the Wildcats this fall for eighth-year coach Andy Sonneland. … North Central stars Janke and the Hill twins would likely be enough for another state title, but the Indians also return Marie Taylor, Amelu Ruff and Madison Lee, who all finished in the top 20 at state in 2018. Shadle Park fifth-year coach Jennifer Stuchell reported six returners, including senior Erin Jonckers and three juniors.

Great Northern League

Boys: Defending State 2A champion Eli Kabasenche of Pullman returns after also winning state in the 3,200 and 1,600 runs this past spring. He’ll be challenged by Bas Holland of Cheney, who placed sixth in 2018. Girls: Defending state champ West Valley returns the bulk of its lineup, including Annika Esvelt (23rd at state). Pullman sophomore Kylie Franklin, the GNL MVP last season, went on to place fifth at state. East Valley sophomore Sabrina Sharp had a solid showing at state (25th).

Northeast A

Boys: Defending 1A champion Lakeside returns two of its best runners, including NEA MVP Gideon Swanson (13th at state) and Brayden Merrill (23rd). Girls: Colville standout senior Alaina Stone placed fourth at state, just ahead of Riverside young leader Lizzy Shaw (fourth).

2B/1B

Boys: Easton Pomrankey of Kettle Falls (11th) was among the area’s top small-school runners as a sophomore (11th at state) in 2018 and Northwest Christian underclassman Zac Johnson (20th) wasn’t far behind. Girls: Chloe Overberg of Asotin challenged for a state title as a freshman, placing fourth, and returns along with Anais Mills (16th) of Garfield-Palouse.

Idaho

Boys: Lake City returns 5A State qualifier Carter Gordon (20th) … In 3A, Hunter Smith of Bonners Ferry, Logan Davis of Coeur d’Alene Charter and Logan Hunt of Timberlake – all top-20 finishers at state – are back. Girls: Coeur d’Alene placed fifth in state in 2018, led by Lauren Forster (fourth). Abigail Gorton, third in state as a sophomore last season, returns for Bonners Ferry.