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Cross Country Teams Running For State Berth

Girls cross country

Shadle Park cross country coach Bob Isitt says his girls team could finish fifth in the Greater Spokane League and still be among the top 10 teams in state.

“Because of who’s returning, I think at the end we’ll be ranked eighth,” he said.

As incongruous as it seems, he’s probably right. Eastern Washington has the state’s highest number of quality cross country teams.

Last year, three of the top four team finishers at last year’s AAA meet were from this region, which includes the Big Nine. Mead missed qualifying for state by a point to eventual runnerup Eisenhower. Regional champion Ferris and runnerup University, were the other state placers.

Shadle was fifth in region behind them. Only a handful of other AAA programs across Washington are better than the Highlanders.

Finishing ahead of Ferris, University and Mead within the GSL again will be difficult for the Highlanders. Isitt said that Lewis and Clark could also contend.

Sound familiar? It should. The girls face the same situation as the boys when it comes to distance running. So many good teams, so few state berths.

When the GSL begins next Wednesday, Shadle will find out the extent of its 1996 challenge. The Highlanders face Mead and University right off the bat.

“We’re running right through that first meet,” said Isitt, “and pointing for down the line.”

Mead same as last year

Last year’s third-place league finisher and hard-luck regional placer, says coach Wes Player, is similar to last year.

“The girls ran hard in the summertime and are looking pretty good,” he said.

Katie Pollock, last year’s 11th-place regional and 24th place state finisher heads a team that features varsity veteran and junior Kelly Mattingly.

Remainder of the team includes Theresa Mattingly, Kelly’s twin sister, and senior Heidi Bartholomew, who was hurt much of last season.

Junior Heidi Probst ran varsity until a late-season injury. Up from jayvee are seniors Kate Gibbons, Rachelle Way, juniors Cami McVay, Katie Carper and sophomore Annie McCabe.

“It looks like we’re about the same as last year,” said Player. “I don’t think we’re the favorites, but will be in a dogfight for one of the three (state) spots.”

Highlanders a veteran crew

Shadle Park returns everyone but last year’s top two runners.

If they have improved enough to replace the graduated seniors, the Highlanders will at least duplicate last year’s fourth-place GSL finish.

“Four of our runners are pretty strong,” said Isitt. “One injury and we’ll be in trouble.”

Junior Tiffany Steele was 24th in the region last year, but seniors Ali Kroegel and Christa Eidi are running ahead of her at this point.

“Ali has never come through in cross country because of an asthma problem,” said Isitt. “She thinks she has it licked.”

Also back is sophomore Julie Sawatzky who is chasing freshman Erin Kroegel, Ali’s sister.

“Erin is going to be a good one,” said Isitt.

Newcomers to the varsity are sophomores Tanya Peterson and Brooke Shelman and California transfer Lanaia Jones, forcing senior Taryn Reynolds to scramble to regain a starting berth.

North Central starting over

North Central is replacing last year’s entire season-ending varsity lineup.

Five seniors graduated and another runner didn’t come out.

“We’re young and even the older kids are young as far as experience,” said coach Jan Janke.

Tasi Mueller, coming back from injury, is the most experienced Indian runner. Following a year’s absence from the program, Jessica Mason returns. Transfer Monique Whitlock and Krystal Meister are the team’s other seniors.

Juniors are third-year runner Andrea Ball and Keri Bendixen. Freshman Rachel Kilgren and perhaps sophomores Lisa Forsyth and Christina Wallingford are varsity hopefuls.

“We’re not the team we were last year,” said Janke, “but they’re working really hard. Anything can happen.”

Things happen in threes at Rogers

Three returnees greeted a third coach in as many years at Rogers.

Shaney Redmon, who coached boys track last spring, is the new girls cross country coach.

Carrie Curtis, Amanda Starkey and Cora Gaines are the veteran runners.

“The rest are all new,” said Redmon.

Included are sophomore Lallah Marston, freshmen Orlia Pajimola, Lisa Chaffee and Jana Landby.

“I’m trying to keep them interested in the sport,” said Redmon. “We might have a chance to win one or two meets.”

Bullpups expect improvement

A combination of returnees and newcomers could help Gonzaga Prep move up a notch or two in the GSL standings after an 0-8 season.

“I hope we’re improved,” said coach Terry Kelly. “We had a rough year last year.”

Sophomore Jill Larson is now the team’s number one runner. Varsity returnees are seniors Ann Leonetti, a North Side resident, Jamie Varela and junior Katie Mayer.

Junior newcomers to the lineup are North Siders Erin Johnston and junior Kim McDonald, who won the all-city freshman race two years ago, Breanne Evans, sophomore Jamie Frank.

A couple of freshmen, Beth Leonetti and Carly Barnes or junior Amanda Spethman, also from the North Side, could challenge.

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