Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight raced 9,800 meters in state finals last year and when all was said and done, in more than a half-hour of running, the difference was 9.12 seconds.
Knight, from North Central, only had three silver medals to show for her efforts that pushed Neale, from Glacier Peak, to a course record at the 5,000-meter state cross country meet and 3A meet records for the 3,200 and 1,600 at the state track meet.
Those two juniors will tangle again, along with their shadow in the continuing distance running drama, Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park, Saturday in the fifth annual Tracy Walters Invitational cross country meet at Audubon Park.
Glacier Peak is the defending State 3A champion and ranked No. 1 in the Northwest, but will be challenged by second-ranked Bozeman, the defending champion. Other teams include Kamiakin, ranked fifth; Shadle Park, ranked 10th; Jesuit of Portland, Lewis and Clark and Coeur d’Alene. Knight is running as an individual.
CdA star Kinsey Gomez set the course record last year as a senior.
The boys race has eight teams, six in the top 10 in the Northwest, headlined by Kamiakin. The Braves are eighth in preseason national rankings with defending champion and course-record holder Anthony Armstrong. The Braves are fourth in the Northwest with defending champion North Central ranked No. 1. NC, the five-time defending State 3A champions, is No. 14 nationally.
The remaining teams are Jesuit (No. 5), Bellevue (8), Bozeman (9), Ferris (10), Coeur d’Alene and Glacier Peak.
The first 3-mile race is junior varsity girls, beginning at 9:20 a.m. Varsity girls are at 10:30, followed by the varsity boys at 11. Teams run 10 individuals with the top eight counting in scoring, putting an emphasis on depth.