The extension of the regional tournament concept to volleyball and cross country this year was enthusiastically welcomed by Greater Spokane League schools.
The result was that North Central’s volleyball team, which shrugged off a 1-3 GSL start to finish fourth in league, is one of three GSL schools playing Friday in the State AAA tournament.
Having a regional tournament also allowed Mead to continue its string of state boys cross country championships.
The format was already in effect in wrestling and as part of the state playoffs in such sports as football, soccer and baseball.
In 1988 the prototype for additional tournaments came in basketball where GSL and Big Nine schools pooled their state allotments into eight-team boys and girls events.
Last year regionals expanded to include track and field and this fall encompassed the two fall sports.
With the GSL’s state berths reduced based on school enrollment, regionals have proved a godsend. Last year Big Nine boys basketball swept all three available team berths.
This fall, however, GSL volleyball teams returned the favor and in the process solidified their claim as the strongest volleyball league in state.
GSL schools didn’t lose a match against Big Nine counterparts and the Indians surprised everyone by finishing second in the regional.
Included among its victims were Big Nine champion Walla Walla and the defending state champion Lewis and Clark Tigers.
Without the regional cross country meet, which enabled Spokane schools to send two extra teams and a number of individuals to state, the Panthers would not have been there.
Mead had been beaten the week previous by Ferris but claimed one of the team spots originally allotted to the Big Nine.
In Pasco, juniors Jason Fayant finished third and Morgan Thompson seventh, to offset Ferris’s three-runner superiority.
Although the Saxons finished first, second and fifth, the next four Panther runners - Mark Mohrlang (21st place in 15:27), Ryan Wiser (25th, 15:31), Lee Hodin (36th, 15:44) and David Green (40th, 15:46) - finished comfortably ahead of Ferris’s fourth scorer during the 54-65 victory. Damon Ristau (16:11) was Mead’s seventh runner.
It was the school’s eighth straight state championship. And this, said coach Pat Tyson, was a building year.
Other cross country placers
A pair of North Side runners, Cameron Hatch of Rogers (15:21) and Stephanie Goaslind of Mead (18:23) finished 15th in their respective AAA races. Panther Katie Pollock was 24th in 18:35.
In the AA race, Riverside’s Nick Barth finished 28th in 15:48.
During A-B competition, Deer Park’s Jaime Stone placed fifth in 19:04 and Lakeside’s Lindsey McElroy was 29th in 20:08.
Deer Park girls busy at state
Deer Park High School girls athletes will be busy this weekend in two state tournaments.
The volleyball team, which finished second, three games behind unbeaten Colfax, in the Northeast A League, is in Chelan Friday after defeating the Bulldogs for top seeding to state.
After opening with a win over Lakeside, Deer Park rallied from a 9-15 first-game loss to beat the league champions 15-6, 15-13.
Deer Park plays Nooksack Valley, Ridgefield and Seattle Christian in Pool A of the 16-team event.
Meanwhile, the Deer Park/ Riverside soccer team hosts perennial playoff foe Hanford in the State AA quarterfinals at Deer Park, weather permitting.
If there is snow on the field for the 1 p.m. Saturday game, it will be moved to West Valley High School.
The Frontier League champions beat East Valley 2-1 for the district title and outscored West Valley-Yakima 5-2 in the first round of state.
Regular season scoring leader Dawn Bowers, who had 14 goals for the league champs, had a goal in each of the wins.
Eleven-goal scorer Bernice Stime scored twice against WV.
Unbeaten Hanford and Deer Park are meeting for the third straight year in the playoffs.
Second time a charm?
For Mead’s football and girls soccer teams the playoffs are a case of deja vu.
The Panther gridders are in Walla Walla for the second straight year, facing the Big Nine champions in the first round of state playoffs.
And for the second time in two years, Mead’s soccer team plays Kamiakin in the second round of the State AAA tournament.
Mead’s teams lost to their respective foes last year, the football team 24-10 to the eventual state runners-up and the soccer team 2-1 on a goal with four minutes remaining.
Both teams would like to reverse the outcomes.