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North Central’s Allie Janke competes in the girls 1,600 meters during the District 8 3A track and field championship at Fran Rish Stadium last year. (Noelle Haro-Gomez / Tri-City Herald)

Local track and field athletes, coaches wonder what might have been after lost season

One of Washington’s all-time great distance runners won’t be a four-time 1,600-meter state champ.

A future asterisk in the WIAA record books will help explain why.

North Central track and field standout Allie Janke, who holds the 3A record in the 3,200- and 1,600-meter runs, is one of several local athletes who won’t get to defend her state title in May due to coronavirus-induced spring sports cancellations around the country.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the closure of school throughout the end of the academic year Monday, extinguishing any hope that sports would resume in the late spring.

Janke, a junior who has posted some of the better times in the country during her career, was cautiously optimistic.

“I am still kind of processing this. It still feels like a new concept to me,” said Janke, whose best times include 4 minutes, 43.60 seconds for 1 mile and 10:10.83 for 2 miles. “I knew it was coming, but held out hope, and am adjusting my own expectations for myself.”

She feels worse for her senior teammates who won’t get to help the Indians challenge for a 3A team title in their final season.

North Central, a cross country powerhouse in the fall, figured to challenge for a high finish in track this spring with the return of Janke and distance standout twins Erinn and Mia Hill, who’ve signed to run at Wisconsin and Idaho, respectively.

Three other seniors – distance runners Marie Taylor (Eastern Washington), Amelu Ruff (Montana) and hurdler Amaya Martin (Emory University) – will also compete in college.

NC’s Kelly Harmon, who has 38 years of coaching experience in Washington, believed his team had a chance to accomplish something special this spring, perhaps even higher than his five second-place team trophies.

“Sixteen seniors won’t get to have a senior season,” he said. “Some will bounce back, but for many this will be the season that never was.”

It was supposed to be another stellar spring for some of the state’s top distance runners and sprinters.

After winning 2A titles in the boys 1,600 and 3,200 in 2019, Pullman senior Eli Kabasenche was expected to help the Greyhounds make another run at a state trophy.

Ferris junior Cole Omlin wasn’t happy with his high jump mark of 6 feet, 6 inches last year, which was still good enough to win a State 4A title. He was aiming for school records this year in the high, long and triple jumps.

Omlin, who has committed to Texas Tech, has found a silver lining to the lost season.

“It’s just trying to keep my body right and stay focused, because I know there’s going to be track again,” he said. “The kids that are sitting at home, they are going to fall behind and the people like me who are still training will come out on top.”

Defending 1A boys champion Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) figured to make another push for a trophy behind the legs of 110 and 300 hurdle state champion Noah Cherrington.

After running away with a 1B girls title, Oakesdale was the favorite to repeat with the return of sensational sisters Lauryn and Bree Rawls, who won titles in sprints, hurdles and field events last year. It would have been their final season as high school teammates.

Chewelah multievent state champion hurdler and sprinter Lillian Kirry’s career was cut short.

Davenport junior Darby Soliday, who won state in the 300 hurdles as a freshman and sophomore, was also stripped of an opportunity to be a four-time state champion in her top event.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” Soliday said. “I put in more work this year, more than any other year, because it was a recruiting year, so it kind of feels like all that training was for nothing.”

Soliday, who has still been training in her family’s Harrington barn in hopes she’ll get a summer season, figured this would be the year her cousin and teammate Laney Jacobsen would win a state javelin title. She placed second in 2019.

“It’s the seniors I really feel for,” Soliday said. “I think (Jacobsen) would have won state this year.”

In North Idaho, athletes like Bonners Ferry’s Abigail Gorton (1,600 and 3,200) and teammate Victoria Rae (shot put, discus) won’t get to enjoy encore senior years after combining for three state titles last spring.

Several other state champions – and athletes who trained to be in the state champion conversation – are left to wonder what might have been.

“There’s definitely going to be some goals left unchecked because of the coronavirus,” Janke said.