Updated: Aug 13
Northwest Christian of Lacey has been the most dominant boys team at the 1B/2B level in recent years, but it's time for the Pope John Paul II boy's to take the spotlight and build the newest dynasty.
Ilwaco's Daniel Quintana has shown us just the beginning of what he can do these next two years winning last years individual title, but can anyone else challenge him for the top podium spot this season?
Here are the top 1B/2B boys and teams to watch for this cross country season.
Kobe Deutscher, Pope John Paul II
Kobe Deutscher has established himself as the best middle-distance runner at the 1B/2B level in the state, but how good could he be in his senior year at distances farther than a mile? Deutscher was third last fall at the 1B/2B state cross country meet running a time of 16:05.8 and led Pope John Paull II to a second place team finish for a second year in a row. Ran a 5k personal best time of 15:49.7 at the Nike Twilight Invite placing second in the small school race. Won three races including the Eagle Cross Country Invite, the Sea-Tac League Championship, and a second consecutive Northwest District Championship. The 2019 1B 800-meter and 1,600-meter state champion will look to his first individual cross country title, while potentially leading the Eagles to their first ever cross country team title in school history.
Isaac Immel, Riverside Christian
Issac Immel may only be a junior this year, but because eighth graders can run at the high school level, the Riverside Christian runner has three years of running at the state cross country meet under his belt giving him plenty of experience going into what should be another good year for him. Placed 10th at the 1B/2B state cross country meet last fall running a 5k personal best time of 16:39.1, almost a one minute, 20 second improvement from his freshman year state time. Placed second at the Central Washington 2B League Championships running 16:53.48 and fourth at the District 5/6 meet running 17:01. Immel may not be at the front of the pack this season with some fast returners this year, but I see him as a top six finisher at state.
Nicholas Marty, Toledo
As a consistent runner at the beginning of the 2019 season in the 16-17 minute range, Nicholas Marty was finally able to have his breakthrough races at the end of the season. Marty ran a 5k personal best time of 15:55.7 to place fourth at the District 4 meet, and then a week later placed sixth at the 1B/2B state cross country running 16:12.7 earning his second consecutive top 10 finish at state. Also won the Central 2B League Championships and repeated as meet champion at the Toutle Lake Invite and Harvest Classic. If Marty can get the confidence to run down in the low 16 minutes for a 5k early on in the season, he can see himself as a top four finisher at state.
Justin Peck, Trout Lake
It was a great bounce back season for Justin Peck in his junior year, but an even more impressive state meet performance after having missed out on running in Pasco as a sophomore. Peck finished as the runner-up a the 1B/2B state cross country meet running a 5k personal best time of 15:59.8, only four seconds away from winning the individual title, and was the Mustangs top runner for their third place team. Peck won a total of six races including the Madras White Bufallo Invite (17:25.4), the Estacada Invite (16:07.5), the District 5 (17:00.3) and District 5/6 (16:06.9) Championships. Peck will be one of my heavy favorites to win the individual crown.
Easton Pomrankey, Kettle Falls
Easton Pomrankey was another consistent runner like Toledo's Marty last fall and brought his best performance at the 1B/2B state cross country meet running a 5k personal best time of 16:12.5 to place fifth as an individual. Along with his state race, three races that standout out for Pomrankey were wins at the Oroville Invite (16:48, 3-mile), the District 7 Championships (16:51.5, 5k) and the District 7/9 Championships (16:42.3, 5k). With pure 800-meter speed, Pomrankey could out sprint anyone on this list at the state meet, but is he strong enough to keep up with runners like Ilwaco's Daniel Quintana and Trout Lake's Peck? Aside from that, Pomrankey is a top six finisher at state.
Daniel Quintana, Ilwaco
If you had told me at the beginning of the year that Daniel Quintana, a first-year cross country runner, would win multiple races, run the fastest time in the state, and win a state championship, I might not have believed you. But after watching him race, I can see why he is the best at the 1B/2B level. Quintana proved many wrong as someone with the least amount of cross country experience running a 5k personal best time of 15:44.5 winning the District 4 Championships, and then a week later ran 15:55.8 to win the individual state title for 1B/2B schools. Arguably his biggest win came at the Nike Twilight Invite in Marysville running a time of 15:48.1 defeating Pope John Paull II's Deutscher. Quintana may be my early season favorite to win the individual state title, but can he handle the pressure of being the runner everyone will be chasing down?
Addison Smee, Kalama
An 11th place finish running 16:44.7 at the 1B/2B state cross country meet may have not been the way Addison Smee had hoped to finish his junior season, but the Kalama senior will be looking for redemption at a hopeful state meet in his final year. Smee placed fourth at the District 4 Championships running a 5k season best time of 16:04.9, two seconds off his personal best mark of 16:02.7 from the same meet in his sophomore season. The talent is there for Smee, especially since he placed fourth at state as a sophomore, but he needs to have confidence in himself and know he is one the top runners in the state. There's no question he is a top three finisher.
Pope John Paul II
Two years of building into one of the best programs in 1B/2B, Pope John Paul II is ready to get over the second place hump and win their first ever state championship. Kobe Deutscher is already one to watch for the Eagles, but don't count out Mattox Marsh and Trevor Dugo who return with top 16 times from a year ago and are definite podium finishers. Luke Christensen is another to watch for the Eagles as well after his good freshman year. The Eagles are a well balanced team with all seven returning runners under 18 minutes for a 5k.
One team who could give Pope John Paul II some good competition at state are the Asotin Panthers. There were no podium finishers for the Panthers last season, but they return a five man spread of 56.2 seconds led by Ryan Denham and Hobbes Tieu as they both ran personal best 5k marks at the state meet running 17:03.3 and 17:07.7. Ian Engledow is the Panthers second fastest runner at 17:04, but he will need to approve upon his first two state performances. Like Pope John Paul II, Asotin has a solid front five, which is all you need to score in a meet.
Trout Lake can't be out of the conversation to win a team title, especially since they return all seven runners from their third place team. We already know where Justin Peck stands as an individual, but what can runners like Mason Stock, Shane Pearson, and Gabe Harpe accomplish? My only concern is the Mustangs spread is two minutes, 41 seconds. We could see a change at the fifth runner each week as the bottom three returners on varsity are within five seconds of each other. I see the Mustangs producing faster runners with that type of competition.
This may be considered a veteran group with three seniors returning, but the talent Liberty Bell will rely on comes from their three sophomores in Isaiah Stoothoff and Jackson and Tristan Schmekal. Top returning runner Travis Girlalou is someone we don't know a lot about heading into his senior season, but running a personal best 5k time of 17:03.4 at the state meet will give him plenty of momentum heading into March.
Editor's Note: The 2020 1B/2B boy's cross country preview was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.