Based on times at last year’s district cross country meets, Riverside’s move to the Frontier League is well-timed.
The Ram boys, competing in the Northeast A League, ran faster as a team than did any of last year’s Class AA Frontier League teams.
Bill Kemp, however, doesn’t see Riverside as the team to beat.
“West Valley has to be favored,” he said. “But we’re close enough to give them a scare.”
The two teams race next Thursday at Bear Lake to begin Riverside’s inaugural Frontier season.
All but one Ram runner returns, including last year’s Northeast A district first- and second-place finishers, Marc Horton and Jon Ashcraft.
Horton is one of three veteran seniors, including Chad McDonald and Dusty Patrick. Nick Barth, on varsity as a sophomore, has regained a place among the top seven.
Other varsity vets are juniors Jacob Buchanan and Joey Lenz, who is recovering from knee surgery.
Newcomer sophomore Bill Warner, second in his age group at last weekend’s Highlander Invitational, will step in.
Riverside’s girls team that qualified for state last year is also experienced. It must compete against last year’s state champion, East Valley.
“I’ve had teams that were state champions and know what it’s like coming back,” said Kemp. “It’s a whole lot easier climbing the mountain than staying on top.”
Included are juniors Nicole Lamarche, Jamie Nichols and Tiffany McMurphy plus sophomores Abbey Wood, Angela Hare and Christy Meese. Freshman Nora Zaprzalka won the Highlander freshman race.
“We’re ahead of where we were last year,” said Kemp. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
State qualfiers lead NEA girls
State qualifiers Jaime Stone from Deer Park and Lindsey McElroy from Lakeside head the list of returning Northeast A girls runners.
Both are juniors. Stone finished fifth and McElroy sixth at last year’s Northeast A League district meet.
They lead veteran teams at both schools hoping to challenge Chewelah, Newport and area Class B schools for state.
“Competition in the Northeast A is strong as ever,” said Deer Park coach Cheryl Yoke.
Veteran Stags are juniors Kristen Coles, Nicole Gunning and Tera Rooney and sophomore Lisa Rooney.
Newcomers include senior Edith Bryant and freshmen Morgan Phillips, Andrea Proctor and Jamie Wise.
Only three boys have turned out this year, and all are injured. Included is last year’s No. 2 runner and 19th-place district finisher Toby Savage, a junior.
McElroy, said Lakeside coach Matt Sullivan, has top-three district-finishing potential.
Joining her from last year’s team is senior Bernadette Rowse. Coral Grubbs is back after a year’s absence.
Newcomers are sophomore Connie Williams, junior Nova Gattman, sophomores Katie Neuchterleien, Lauren Otterbein and Francesca Gade, and freshman Robyn Baugh.
Sullivan said his boys team has state-qualifying potential.
“This year the kids are really pushing themselves and for the first time are serious about running,” he said.
Mike Witt, 24th in district as a freshman, leads the way. Veterans are senior Wes Bouchia and Joe Tenny, sophomore Bobby O’Brien and junior Keith Smeltzer.
Newcomers are freshmen Trevor Blackwell, Andrew Gruver, Perry Welch and Trevor Smith and sophomore Steve Ellingwood.