It was an exceptional year across the board for the girls sports programs at Mead this season. So exceptional for three specific programs, it was impossible to choose between them.
So we didn’t.
Mead’s state champion cross country team, its state champion volleyball team and its state fifth-place basketball team are The Spokesman-Review 2022 Big School Girls Teams of the Year.
But the success doesn’t stop there. The Mead girls golf team finished eighth at state, the track team placed fifth and the gymnastics team took fourth at state.
“The girls (at Mead) here are strong, dedicated, they’re all intelligent and they all care about each other,” girls basketball coach Quantae Anderson said. “There’s this team-first atmosphere at this school and I think it showed in all of our sports.”
Anderson praised the Mead faculty, administration and coaches for fostering an atmosphere where female athletes can succeed.
“But it starts with the girls,” he said. “The talent, the dedication, their attitude. They’re willing to be a part of something special and not having to be the ‘only one.’
“They work extremely hard, and they are very dedicated. They really do feel like family.”
Chronologically, the cross country team started the success on Nov. 6, placing two on the podium and five in the top 60 to win the state title for the first time since 1988.
“Of all the years I’ve coached, this is truly a deserving group,” Mead girls coach Dori Whitford said in November.
“They have worked harder than anybody I’ve ever seen, and they are a class act about it.”
Senior Alanna Parker placed ninth overall and sophomore Charlotte Cullen finished 20th.
The others in the top 60 were Raegen Borg (22nd), Alexis Parker (37th) and Sophia Ferraro (59th). The Panthers were the only team to have five runners finish within the top 60.
“I am so happy for my team, and I think we all had great races,” Cullen said after. “It felt amazing to be up there as an individual, but it was really my team that put in the effort to be up there together.”
Courtney Osborn, a senior on this year’s team, shares the state champ honors with her mother, Susan (Bonogofski) Osborn – a member of the 1988 championship team.
A couple of weeks after the cross country triumph, the volleyball team, seeded fourth, topped second-seeded Peninsula in four sets to claim its title.
Mia Tunison led four players with six or more kills with 10 and the Panthers’ defense was dominant with 24 blocks, including Danikah Johnson with seven, Emily Hutchinson with six and Hayley Smith with five.
“This is a year we were waiting for a long time,” Mead coach Shawn Wilson said in November.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I can remember,” Hutchinson said.
The Panthers knocked off two-time defending state champion Mt. Spokane in a state quarterfinal and dealt the Wildcats all three of their losses last season.
“Mt. Spokane actually came up to us before (the final) and they’re like, ‘Keep the trophy in Spokane,’ ” Hutchinson said. “They wanted it just as bad as we did.”
“I think (the competition) really helps,” Wilson said. “We’ve been exposed to that.”
Mead setter Madi Zorn was named the 3A player of the year by the state coaches association. Hutchinson and outside hitter Mia Tunison were selected for the first team, and outside hitter Cassie Moeller and middle blocker Danikah Johnson earned second-team honors.
The Panthers’ basketball team didn’t win a state title, but it won just about everything else.
Mead won its first 24 games, all by double digits, and registered a 20-point quarter in 18 games.
In a regional playoff game, the top-seeded Panthers outscored eighth-seeded Lincoln 32-3 in the second quarter en route to a 76-30 win – the largest margin of victory in the tournament in any classification.
The cold snap continued in the third-place game, a 61-44 loss to third-seeded Arlington.
“We had a wonderful season,” Anderson said on Tuesday. “You take away those two games at the end – even with them – we won 24 straight games. That was impressive. That’s one of the highest-win teams at Mead.
“Just a great group of kids.”
“We worked so hard to get here,” Mead senior Alicia Suggs said in March.
“Even though we didn’t finish like we wanted to, we still have a record to be proud of. And we came out representing Spokane for the girls, so we’re happy.”
Senior Olivia Moore was voted Greater Spokane League MVP, Anderson was named coach of the year, sophomore guard Teryn Gardner was a first-team pick, senior Haley Burns was a second-team selection and Suggs was an honorable mention.
“She definitely was our leader,” Anderson said of Moore. “We were not where we were without her.
“What she did for that team this season was immeasurable in my eyes.”
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