The streak could end this fall. That streak is North Central’s incredible run of 11 straight State 3A championships. Graduation hit the Indians hard. They return seniors Mohamed Ahmed (22nd last year at state) and Markus Taylor (28th). The rest of the team graduated. NC was ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll behind Interlake and Kamiakin. This might be coach Jon Knight’s biggest rebuilding job. Juniors Silas Chapman and Riley Vandergriend were alternates at state last year. “We’re pretty young. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond,” Knight said. “The streak’s got to end (and) I’d say it’s a pretty good chance this year. Some of these guys were in diapers when it started. But I wouldn’t count them out completely.” Knight mentioned the line from a song written by John Prine: “Memories can’t be bought and won at carnivals for free.” … Central Valley returns six of seven state qualifiers off a team that finished second. The Bears are led by seniors Gabe Romney and Fielding Demars and a foursome of solid juniors. The Bears are favored to win the league title. … Lewis and Clark should be in the mix in league as well. The Tigers were ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll. They’re led by senior Spencer Swaim. … Ferris, fourth at state last year, was ranked sixth in the preseason rankings. The Saxons are led by seniors Jacob Stirpe and Todd Bloom.
Lewis and Clark, second at state two years ago, suffered a hiccup last year, finishing sixth. The Tigers are not only favored to win the league title but challenge for a state title. They were ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll behind defending state champ Issaquah and Camas. LC brings back state veterans Katie Thronson (2nd) and Abby Smith (18th), both seniors, along with four other state qualifiers. Five seniors who contributed as sophomores are the core of the team. “We thought we had a really good shot last year, but we just did not pull it together on the day that we needed to,” coach Kevin Swaim said. “I’m confident with this group that it will go out with a bang.” … North Central should push LC. The Indians just missed qualifying for state last year, but freshmen twins Erinn and Mia Hill return after placing fifth and 11th, respectively, at state. Also returning are seniors Chloe McDermott and Bethany Meek and sophomores Amelu Ruff, Amaya Martin and Marie Taylor. NC wasn’t ranked in the preseason poll. “I don’t really mind,” coach Dempsey Ortega said of not being ranked. “We’re fine under the radar.” … Mead returns a handful from a year ago and will finish in the top half of league. The Panthers are led by senior Hannah Barone (13th). … Central Valley, fourth a year ago at state, is ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll. Senior twins Erica and Anna Pecha are the Bears’ top returners. “We’re going to be OK,” coach Dennis McGuire said. “We’ll have a lot of new people. I think we’re going to have a deeper team.” … University is led by seniors Claire Dingus (27th) and Rebecca Lehman.
Cheney took fourth at state a year ago. The Blackhawks were ranked sixth in the preseason poll and Pullman was rated tenth. … Cody Skay (10th) of West Valley is the top GNL returner.
Pullman took fourth last year. The Greyhounds were ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll. WV was ranked sixth. … Elyria Kabasenche of Pullman, a state champ last year, didn’t turn out this year. Pullman’s top returner is junior Jenna Herzog (14th). … WV is led by Emma Garza, Mikayla Davis and Annika Esvelt, all state qualifiers last year as freshmen.
It was another strong showing at state last year by the NEA as Deer Park and Medical Lake finished 1-2 and Riverside took fourth. … Senior Ben Shaw of Riverside took second and will challenge for a state title. … Other top NEA finishers were Mason Williams (6th) and Tyler Pena (16th) for Medical Lake; Tanner Supanchick (15th) of Riverside; and Grant Avila (19th) of Deer Park. … Medical Lake will be out to return to the top of the state heap.
Deer Park and Riverside finished second and third, respectively, at state. That’s where they’re ranked in the preseason poll. Colville is ranked seventh. … Junior Libby Michael of Deer Park took second last year and is the top returner in the state. Sophomore Lizzy Shaw (5th) of Riverside and senior Morgan Hall (7th) of Colville will contend for top placings. … Other top NEA state finishers back are Alaina Stone (12th) of Colville, Elsa Longhurst (13th) of Freeman, Becky George (16th) of Deer Park and Hallie Jensen (20th) of Lakeside.
Springdale’s boys were ranked fourth and Northwest Christian’s girls were tabbed No. 3 in the preseason polls. … Top returning area boys are Tyler Shea (3rd) of NWC and Garrett Willey (20th) of Springdale. Top returning area girls are Madison Janke (16th) of NWC and Madison Clark (21st) of Wilbur-Creston.
No area 5A boys or girls teams earned state trophies last year. The top returning boys are Joey Perez (9th) of Lewiston and Karson Peach (32nd) of Coeur d’Alene. The top returning girls are Kaitlyn Blume (22nd) of Lewiston and Sydney Shanahan (27th) of Post Falls. … Sandpoint’s girls were the highest-placing 4A team, taking fifth. Sandpoint’s top returners are Katherine Kaul and Hannah Davidson, both seniors. They placed 14th and 15th, respectively, last year. The top returning boy is Cole Dillon (28th) of Sandpoint. … In 3A, the Coeur d’Alene Charter boys took third and Timberlake’s girls took third a year ago. The top male returner is Karson Chrispens (29th) of CdA Charter. The top female returners are Abigail Peightal (8th) and Savannah Caudle (17th) of Timberlake and Abigail Gorton (11th) and Jordan Young (12th) of Bonners Ferry.
- Compiled by staff writer Greg Lee
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