North Central doesn’t have a senior on its boys cross country team, but it does have a system.
Despite saying goodbye to the top end of the stable that led the Indians to a fifth consecutive state title last fall, the Indians reloaded and completed an undefeated Greater Spokane League season Wednesday afternoon at Plantes Ferry Park.
“There was no doubt it would be a little bit harder,” sophomore Kai Wilmont said after leading NC past Mt. Spokane and University in a three-way showdown among undefeated teams. “There are some really good teams out there and we didn’t have anyone we knew that was going to be up there all the time. Those back guys are holding us together.”
NC beat Mt. Spokane 23-34 and the Titans 18-41. The Wildcats tripped U-Hi 27-28.
Wilmont came in third on the 5,000-meter course, 10 seconds behind Shadle Park senior Nathan Weitz, the state runner-up, and 3 behind Mt. Spokane senior Hunter Johnson. Weitz finished in 15 minutes, 40 seconds.
Behind Wilmont was NC junior Keith Williams. After that it was a tossup for the Indians, although the odds were always stacked in their favor.
“It’s been kind of interesting, it’s been our middle that’s saved us all year,” NC coach Jon Knight said. “Our No. 1 and No. 2 did what we expect. Kai didn’t have a breakout race, but Nik Taylor, who had kind of a tough middle of the season, had a great race. We keep having these guys in the middle, different three each time.
“I suspect if we have a deep run in the postseason, it’s because our middle can get close to our front two.”
All seven runners have been among the top five that count in scoring at some point this season, which is what Wilmont learned to count on.
“At the beginning of the season it was a bit of a worry,” he said. “The kids that were coming off the JV, they’re up there and now they’re doing well. I just trust that they’ll come through for us and they do.”
There was more at stake than just a GSL championship. With all four 3A schools on hand, the meet served as a qualifier for regional. Two teams advanced, plus the top seven individuals not on a qualifying team.
NC won the district meet scoring with 31 points. Mt. Spokane had 55 and U-Hi 61.
“We didn’t make it last year and we’ve been talking about it all summer,” Mt. Spokane’s Johnson said.
Johnson gave credit to new coach Alex Dressel and his son, freshman John Dressel, who shattered the Wildcats’ freshman record and finished sixth.
Among girls, the individual battle, as usual, featured NC’s Katie Knight (18:32) and Shadle’s Kendra Weitz (18:58). Mt. Spokane, which swept its three dual matchups, won the district title with 45 points. Shadle also qualified for regionals with 51 points, edging University by three.
All 4A schools advance to regional, Oct. 29 at Wandemere Golf Course.
The GSL girls championship was decided at Central Valley. This time the Bears’ depth wasn’t enough, as Lewis and Clark edged CV 26-31.
LC’s Tigers, who won a league title in 2002, got it because of more top-end strength. CV’s seventh runner came in before LC’s fifth, but the Tigers had four in the top six, including all three seniors – Hannah Allen, third place; Calli Vandewilde, fourth; and Alison Keenan, sixth.
“That’s why it’s great to have four No. 1 runners,” LC coach Mark Vandine said.
It’s a fitting finish for Allen and Keenan, who were on a team that upset CV in their first varsity meet as freshmen.
“We never thought about it. It hasn’t come up among us,” Allen said of finally winning a championship. “Vandine said if we concentrated on staying healthy, it would take care of itself. Coach Vandine was right.”
Gracie Ledwith led the Tigers, finishing second overall behind Mead’s Danielle Maldonado (19:13.07).
Great Northern League
Dan Amann (16:06) and Dayde Collins (16:09) both ran under the Deer Park course record to lead the Stags past West Valley and an undefeated boys season (6-0). … The girls title was decided at Pullman with Cheney sweeping East Valley and Pullman to go undefeated at 6-0. … Medical Lake’s Zeb Klemke (17:37) and Kelby Wegner (21:34) won meets at home against Clarkston.