Central Valley has built itself into a perennial cross country power by stressing a team approach to what too many consider an individual sport.
This year the Bears are picked to battle with North Central and Ferris for the Greater Spokane League boys crown.
Central Valley placed ninth at state a year ago and graduated just two runners from that squad: Riley Sine and Michael Nall.
Gabe Romney is the top returning finisher from last year’s trip to Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
University placed seventh at state a year ago, but the Titans were hit hard by graduation on its boys squad. Hunter Simpson, who placed 11th overall, graduated along with the top four U-Hi runners to cross the finish line.
Lewis and Clark placed second in last year’s Class 4A girls state championship race. CV placed 10th as a team last year, but graduated Briegan Bester, the Bears’ top individual placer among the girls.
West Valley’s Jacob Nicholson placed 11th in the state Class 2A meet and junior Cody Skay was 37th, but the Eagles failed to qualify as a team.
Boys: The CV boys had an impressive finish in their GSL opener. The Bears swept the top seven finishers against Shadle Park, with less than 10 seconds separating first- and seventh-place finishers in a 15-50 victory.
Sophomore Evan Peters ran a personal record and finished first in a time of 16 minutes, 48.87 seconds. Fellow sophomore Sheamus Mahoney was second in 16:49.25. Romney was third in 16:49.27. Ryan Hunter, the team’s lone senior, was fourth in 16:49.28. Sophomore Joey Nicholls was fifth with state meet veterans Ryan Kline and Fielding Demars finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
Girls: Like the boys, these Bears swept the top seven places against the Highlanders in their GSL opener.
Three seniors paced the effort. Kearan Nelson was first in 18:28.30, Anna Fomin was second in 20:43.87 and Gabrielle Ford third in 20:47.51. Senior Aubrianne Knudsen was seventh.
Freshman Olivia Sine, sophomore Alexis Beard and junior Anna Pecha finished fourth through sixth to round out the CV varsity.
Boys: The Titans graduated the top four runners from their seventh-place team finish at state a year ago and only two runners from the trip to Pasco return.
Senior Jack Sloan finished 101st at state and classmate Joe Hawkins was nine places behind.
Hawkins, turning in a time of 17:2.8, led the U-Hi effort at the Coeur d’Alene Invitational, where the Titans finished second. Junior Zach Withers was second with a personal record time of 17:9.1, and Sloan turned in a 17:09.8. Freshmen Jacob Easton and Ian Barville ran 17:13 and 17:37.6, respectively.
University split in its first GSL meet, losing to Ferris and posting a win over Rogers.
Girls: Junior Claire Dingus, who placed 22nd at state last year, ran a 19:21 to win the Coeur d’Alene Invitational and start the season, finishing 35 seconds ahead of her nearest competition. Rebecca Lehman was the second Titan to finish, taking fourth in 20:08.
Senior Cecilia Baird finished eighth in 21:32.1, and sophomore Caitlin Kosmicki and junior Katie Smithgall ran 22:17.1 and 22:57.7, respectively.
Smithgall doubles as the Titans’ No. 1 singles tennis player in the spring.
The Titans lost by two points to Ferris, 28-30, in the GSL opener.
Boys: Nicholson won the Great Northern League opener by turning in a 16:51 against Pullman – finishing a full 25 seconds ahead of the Greyhounds’ Tim Pendry.
The next six West Valley runners were all underclassmen. Giovanni Raskell was third with a personal record 17:28. Jeremiah Garza was fourth in 17:35 and Cody Skay was fifth in 17:38.
Girls: For the first time in several seasons, West Valley fields an entire girls team. Freshman Mikayla Davis was the top Eagle finisher in the GNL opener with Pullman, placing fourth in 21:30. Sophomore Sydney Stone was sixth in 22:41 and freshman Emma Garza was seventh in 22:52.
Freshman Annika Esvelt was ninth and sophomore Sarah Adamson 10th, while senior Hannah Stockman rounded out the varsity effort in 12th.
Boys: Sophomores Will Sharp and Jared Hathaway finished 1-2 in the Knights 24-33 win over Clarkston in the GNL opener for both schools. Sharp ran 18:02, 13 seconds faster than his second-place teammate.
The Knights opened the season without a senior on its varsity. Sophomore Casey Noack, junior Garrett Edwards, sophomore Tommy Ngo, junior Derek Severin and freshman Jack Weidman rounded out the initial starting lineup.
Girls: The Knights won the GNL opener by default when Clarkston sent just two runners to the start line, but the Bantams’ Madeline Bunce and Esperanza Ronquillo finished first and third, respectively.
East Valley’s Cheyenne Baxter, a senior, finished second with a time of 25:34. Seniors Cadie Bise and Laurel Weberg were fourth and fifth, respectively. Juniors Kate Pointer and Emma Fairbanks and freshmen Miranda Smiley and Shaylee Brown rounded out the first starting lineup of the season.
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