Greater Spokane League smaller-school distance runners refused to take a back seat to those from larger schools during Wednesday’s District 8 4A-3A cross country meet.
Shadle Park’s girls dominated their competition and North Central’s boys closed the gap on Ferris in a race that ended tied and was decided by the Saxons’ faster sixth-place finisher at Plantes Ferry Park.
Individually, the classifications split. Baylee Mires of 4A Mead won the girls race over a quartet of 3A foes, while Ben Johnston of NC led a 1-2 boys 3A finish.
The race also served as a regional qualifier as 4A schools advanced three teams and nine other individuals. Pending a film review of the finish today, for the first time since 1987 it appears Mead’s boys will not be at state or defend their title.
With each passing race, Johnston has become stronger – attested by his 18-second victory over Mt. Spokane’s Allan Schroeder – and he’s marking himself a 3A title contender.
“My dream right now is to go for a state title,” Johnston said.
Johnston led the pack through the first part of the race then slowly eased away in a 15-minute, 23-second time that beat his fellow 3A foe Schroeder, who clocked 15:41.
In the process, NC gave Ferris all it could handle. The score ended 56-56, with Ferris’ sixth runner Scott Davis deciding the outcome.
“The coaches wanted us to get after it because this is almost a mini-preview of state, there is such a great group of guys to run with,” Johnston said.
NC coach Jon Knight said there wasn’t a ton at stake other that just trying to get closer to the Saxons. Ferris coach Mike Hadway said he was trying to have his runners keep close to NC No. 3 finisher Casey Adams, which they did.
In scoring of 4A schools only, the Saxons, easily with 33 points, and Lewis and Clark (64) claimed the first two team berths to regional. University tied Mead with 92 for the third spot next Friday at Wandermere Golf Course. U-Hi advanced because of a higher placing sixth runner.
All five GSL 3A schools qualified for their regional.
Mires faced her toughest GSL challengers for the last time this fall. Her Panthers, who finished third as a team behind Shadle and Central Valley, now concentrate on 4A.
The others – Shadle’s Kendra Weitz, Andrea Nelson and Katie Morris, and NC’s Katie Knight – go to 3A where Shadle is a state team favorite.
While the team competition was one-sided – Shadle had six finishers among the top 17 for a 34-81 victory over CV – it was quite an individual race.
Mires dug in over the last 600 meters for an 18:08 to 18:11 victory over freshman Weitz.
“I knew those girls wanted it,” Mires said. “They were battling. It was a great first mile with Andrea on my right, Kendra left and Katie right behind.”
By 2½ miles, it was a three-runner race.
“I knew they wanted blood and we kept surging,” she said.
Weitz went past, but Mires got back into the race and pulled out the win.
Coach Bob Isitt was happy with Shadle’s day.
“How can you not be with 34 points in the all-GSL meet?” he asked. “Now I have to think of things to do to make sure we have our best race at state.”
CV was without its No. 1 runner, Jamie Lambie, who was sidelined by illness. The Bears got solid efforts from freshmen Skye Sanders (11th) and Alexandria Moore (15th). Their scorers all finished in the top 21 with 81 points (45 among 4A schools).
Mead (61) and LC (77) also qualified for next week’s regional.
Shadle is joined by the other four 3A schools.