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Locally: Area runners return from USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships with numerous accolades

UPDATED: Tue., Dec. 21, 2021

Valley Flash, a cross country club from Spokane Valley, took home a national championship in the boys 15-18 age group at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Paris, Kentucky.  (Courtesy photo)
Valley Flash, a cross country club from Spokane Valley, took home a national championship in the boys 15-18 age group at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Paris, Kentucky. (Courtesy photo)
From staff and news services

Three area clubs took 83 runners ages 7-18 to the 2021 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships Dec. 11 in Paris, Kentucky, and returned with two national championship teams, two national runners-up teams and 15 individual All-America honors for top-25 finishes.

And, oh, yes, a new appreciation for the term “difficult running conditions.”

Valley Flash from Spokane Valley, in the boys 15-18 age group, and North Idaho XC, in girls 7-8, won national titles. The North Idaho boys and girls 13-14 teams both finished second.

Coming on the heels of tornadoes that tore through the area the day before, runners found the course muddy, rains punishing and tornado warnings unsettling.

“I’ve run in college; I’ve run all over. I’ve never run in conditions like that,” said Frankie Ferraro, the Valley Flash’s fifth-year coach.

One mother said, “The mud was horrendous.”

Recognizing the conditions would make it difficult to not just catch competitors, but to pass them, Ferraro told his eight 15- to 18-year-old runners to get a fast start.

“I thought they’d be able to hold their positions pretty well” in the 167-runner field, he said.

They heeded his advice. Valley Flash’s top five runners earned All-America honors and its sixth, Ferraro’s son, Giovanni, placed 26th in the 17-18 age group, missing the honor by one spot. (In that division, they have All-America awards for the top 25 in both 15-16 and 17-18 age groups.)

North Idaho’s championship 7- to 8-year-old girls did similarly. The top three finished in the top 10 and all five were in the first 39 in the 139-runner field in scoring 31 points.

“It was a great experience,” North Idaho coach Emry Carr said.

A breakdown by local clubs:

Valley Flash: Seven of the eight 15-18 team members attend Central Valley HS or are graduates, with alum Alex Wright, a freshman at Purdue University, being their top finisher. He was 10th overall and fifth in the 17-18 category. Ethan Sheneman was 12th overall and sixth among the 17- to 18-year-old runners.

The other All-Americans on the team are James Turner, eighth in 17-18; Kellen Souza (Immaculate Conception Academy, Post Falls), 17th in 17-18; and Jacob Nichols, 17th in 15-16. Other team members are Landon Stafford, 28th in 17-18, and Colin Wright, 35th in 17-18.

Danny Hughes, who was fourth in boys 7-8, was Valley Flash’s sixth All-American.

The Valley Flash 9-10 girls team finished 10th and its 13-14 girls were 12th.

Other Valley Flash finishers: Boys 13-14: Gavin Ahumada, 122; Aaron Wright, 142. Boys 11-12: Rowan Henry, 26; Carson Stafford, 31; Chase Bates, 99; Nicholas Ray, 187. Boys 9-10: Samuel Cheney, 68; Kinring Bradford, 70; Rhyse Doohan, 190. Boys 7-8: Justin Olson, 33.

Girls 13-14: Kendra Kane, 151. Girls 11-12: Peyton Richter, 74; Jolina Olson, 80; Adalyn Depew, 107; Morgan Sulpizio, 147; Alison Avery, 156; Paisley Ray, 195. Girls 9-10: Olivia Olson, 43; Ava Magers, 92; Hannah Horsley, 112; Codi Bates, 173; Penelope Andreasen, 188.

North Idaho XC: Summer Dance was sixth, London Dance seventh and Finley Taylor 10th to snare All-America honors and lead the 7- to 8-year-old girls to the national championship. Other team members are Vivian Howard, 27th, and Ashlyn Brazle, 39th.

The runner-up North Idaho 13- to 14-year-old boys team also had three All-Americans – Wren Jackson, ninth; Wyatt Carr, 12th; and Mitchell Rietze, 21st.

The other All-Americans came in girls 9-10 – Victoria Howard, 18th, and Ava Robertson, 21st – and from Payson Shaw, 21st in boys 11-12. The runner-up 13-14 girls were led by Helen Oyler, who finished 27th, two spots from All-America honors.

The North Idaho girls 11-12 team finished fourth, the boys 11-12 team was sixth and the girls 11-12 was 15th.

The other North Idaho finishers: Boys 13-14: Parker Sterling, 73; Camden Johnson, 74; David Dance, 108; Charles Mattila, 172. Boys 11-12: Ronan Kennedy, 28; Samuel Mandel, 38; Wyatt Morgenstern, 54; Blaise Howard, 108; Rylee Rubio, 151; Alistair Smith, 207. Boys 9-10: Wyatt Matous, 40; Will Wood, 50; Cody Morgenstern, 61.

Girls 13-14: Olivia May, 36; Riley Brazle, 44; Anabelle Carr, 52; Talia Bonville, 63; Dakota Keyworth, 165; Kyliegh Chapman, 203. Girls 11-12: Paige Dance, 64; Sierra Sheppard, 132; Lillie Dance, 133; Emmaline Carr, 170; Annie Mattila, 252. Girls 9-10: Georgia Carr, 70; Charlote Carr, 76; Macey Brillhart, 169.

Spokane Mercury Athletic: The third area club making the roughly 2,200-mile trip to Kentucky took 13 runners in seven age divisions. Coach Carol Lewis’ team had two top-50 finishers and three others in the top 100 of their age groups.

Mercury’s top finisher was Owen Nydegger, who missed All-America recognition by three spots, placing 28th in boys 9-10. Brooks Cleveland was 49th in boys 8-and-under.

Other Spokane Mercury finishers: Boys 13-14: Tyler Geffken, 184; Finnegan Cunningham, 238. Girls 13-14: Amelia Carlson, 184; Becca Wade, 279. Boys 11-12: Justin Geffken, 89; Brookes Bresson, 132. Girls 11-12: Teagan Enser, 124; Kelly Cleveland, 138. Boys 9-10: Quentin Enser, 107. Girls 8-and-under: Marian Regelin, 53; Keatyn Nydegger, 91.


Josh Behrens worked three games and John Love and Steve Currie each have two assignments as 12 members of the Spokane Collegiate Football Officials Association received 2021 playoff or bowl assignments.

Behrens was the side judge on NCAA Division II playoff games Nov. 20 in Gunnison, Colorado, a first-round game; Dec. 4, a quarterfinal in Golden, Colo.; and a semifinal Dec. 11 in Big Rapids, Michigan.

Love was the center judge and Currie the field judge for the Pac-12 championship game Dec. 3 in Las Vegas between Oregon and Utah. Love will also be the center judge for the Cheez-It Bowl Dec. 29 in Orlando, Florida, and Currie the field judge in the Gasparilla Bowl Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

Other assignments: Casey Irgens, head line judge; Jesse Lenz, line judge; and Luke Raynor, alternate, all an NAIA second-round game Nov. 27 in Sioux City, Iowa; Tyler Zyph, head line judge, NCAA Division III second-round, Nov. 27, Belton, Texas; Roger Stewart, FCS first round, Nov. 27, Hammond, Louisiana.

Steve Hudson will be the back judge and Shane Anderson the side judge in the Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 29 in New York City, and Jim Northcott will be the replay official and Dan Antonietti his communicator at the Cotton Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal between Cincinnati and Alabama on Dec. 31 in Arlington, Texas.

High school scene

The Greater Spokane League, in conjunction with the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, announced the fall recipients of the 21st annual NECA/IBEW GSL Award.

The organizations, which train electricians for the future and encourage high school students to explore that as a career, recognize one female and one male athlete at each GSL school for their academic and athletic accomplishments and community involvement.

The fall recipients by school:

Central Valley: Zoe Crockett, soccer; George Sonko, football. Cheney: Parker Cagle, slowpitch softball; Jackson Redder, cross country. Clarkston: Luella Skinner, soccer; Tiger Carringer, football. East Valley: Logan Hofstee, cross country; Diezel Wilkinson, football. Ferris: Kacey Spink, volleyball; Josh Beine, football.

Gonzaga Prep: Noelani Krauss, cross country; Kaz Melzer, football. Lewis and Clark: Duff Overstreet, slowpitch softball; Stephan Cox, football. Mead: Alexis Parker, cross country; Daniel Champlin, cross country. Mt. Spokane: Kylie Stiles, soccer; John Campbell, football. North Central: Sophia Van Sickle, slowpitch softball; Jonah Aden, cross country.

Pullman: Keleigh Myers, volleyball; Brendan Doumit, cross country. Ridgeline: Lily Pesnell, soccer; Nico Pena, football. Rogers: Gabby Harkness, volleyball; Jaden Rowe, cross country. Shadle Park: Brooklyn Brunette, slowpitch softball; Caleb Kreuger, cross country. University: Taylor Schillinger, cross country; Ricco Longo, football. West Valley: Marissa Andrews, volleyball; Matt Buck, cross country.

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