Updated: Jul 13, 2020
We are under two months away from what would be the start of the 2020 high school cross country season here in Washington, which means it's time for season previews for all five divisions.
To kick things off, here is a look at the top 4A boy's individuals and teams to watch for this upcoming fall.
Brenden Charbeneau, Jackson
This last fall was a great indicator of where Brenden Charbeneau could be at this next season as one of the top returning 4A runners in the state. Following the footsteps of his former teammate Joseph Skoog, Charbeneau won the 4A District 1 Championship race running 16:04.7 after having placed second the year before, and then the following week claimed a podium spot at the state meet placing 14th overall running a time of 15:31.2. Ran a personal-best 5,000-meter time of 15:28.3 at the Capital Cross Challenge. This spring, Charbeneau threw down a 9:14.3 in a 3,200-meter time trial and 4:19.6 for a 1,600-meter time trial. My dark horse pick for this fall, Charbeneau will be among the front pack at the state meet and will be in contention to win a state championship or perhaps finish top three.
Ethan Coleman, Olympia
Ethan Coleman made a tremendous improvement from his freshman year to his sophomore year making him well respected around the state. Coleman went from placing 78th at the 4A state meet and running a 5,000-meter time of 16:38.5 in 2018, to placing on the podium getting 12th and running a personal best time of 15:28.7. A few weeks earlier, Coleman won the South Puget Sound League Championship race in a previous personal best time of 15:38. Only ran one time trial this spring, according to Athletic.net, in Olympia's Virtual Invite and ran 9:55 for 3,200 meters. Looking forward to seeing Coleman have another breakout year and claim himself a top-five finish at the state meet.
Sam Geiger, Camas
An up and down year for Sam Geiger ended in a way he will remember for a lifetime. A key piece to the first-ever cross country state team title in Camas history, Geiger was sixth at the 4A state meet running a 5,000-meter time of 15:22.7. Geiger made his made breakthrough at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite by placing 3rd overall and running a personal best 15:15.5 for 5,000-meters after a slow start early in the season due to an injury. Finished as the runner-up at the Greater St. Helens District Meet running 16:24. As long as he can stay healthy, Geiger is a top-three finisher for sure at the state meet and can challenge Kamiakin's Isaac Teeples, 2019 3A champion, and his own teammate, Evan Jenkins, for a state individual title.
Evan Jenkins, Camas
Much like Olympia's Ethan Coleman, Camas's Evan Jenkins is another young star who could make some more noise in his junior season after an incredible sophomore year. Running a personal best 15:18 for 5,000-meters at the 4A state meet, Jenkins led the Papermakers to the school's first state cross country team title and also placed fourth overall in one of the most talented fields in quite some years. Jenkins was also the Greater St. Helens League champion running 15:54 and the Westside Classic district champion running 15:33.2. Between Sam Geiger and Jenkins, they arguably are the best duo in the state. Jenkins could surprise Teeples and take down the defending 3A champion to win this year's 4A crown.
Brayden Packard, West Valley (Yakima)
Don't let Brayden Packard's 28th place finish at the 4A state meet fool you. Combining speed and strength, Packard is one of, if not the best, in the state both on the track and cross country terrain. Packard ran a personal-best 5,000-meter time of 15:28.8 at the Brooks Fort Steilacoom Invite to finish seventh and a 3-mile personal best of 14:39.9 at the Richland Invite, which he won. Known for his ability in the 800-meter, Packard looks to bounce back in his final year with West Valley of Yakima and looks to return to the state cross country podium for the first time since his sophomore season when he finished 15th.
Isaac Teeples, Kamiakin
Perhaps the best runner in the entire state, Isaac Teeples reigns as the defending 3A state champion but will have to reclaim his throne at the 4A level this season. Teeples led Kamiakin to their third consecutive 3A state team title with his first-place finish running a time of 15:18.1 and was one of four Braves to make the podium. Prior to the state meet, Teeples won the Mid-Columbia Conference meet and the District 8 meet, and ran a three-mile personal best time of 14:34.2. This spring Teeples was second in the first-ever Eastside 1,600 Classic running a personal best time of 4:15.2. He also ran personal bests an 800 and 3,200-meter time trial running 1:54.8 and 9:02.5. To repeat as state champion this fall at 4A won't be easy, but it's doable for Teeples.
Paul Talens, Mount Si
Missing out on the state podium by one spot is a tough one to get over, but luckily Paul Talens has another opportunity. Talens ran a season best time of 15:39.1 to finish in 17th at the 4A state meet and is only three seconds off his 5,000-meter personal best of 15:36.9. Finished as the runner-up at the KingCo Championship meet running 16:10.1. With the talent and capability this runner has, this could be the breakout year Talens has been looking forward to. A for sure podium finisher and a potential top eight finisher.
West Valley (Yakima)
West Valley's top returners will all be seniors this fall. Brayden Packard may have not performed to his capability at the state meet last season, but he's a fantastic runner based off what he has done in previous races, putting himself in the conversation to win the individual 4A state title. West Valley's chances of winning a state team title should not only be relied on the three other seniors in Ben Connell, Liam Rickey, and Dustin Young, but sophomore Max Hutton as well.
Newport returns all seven of their state participants from last fall. So there should be no reason why they can't win a state team title, right? The Knights need a couple runners to break the 16 minute barrier to give themselves a chance at taking down West Valley of Yakima and last year's champion, Camas. If there are some individuals who can break the 16 minute barrier, it's Brett Hanley and Brent Nakashima.
It's well established that Sam Geiger and Evan Jenkins are the two of the top runners at the 4A level and are capable of going first and second at the state meet, but there's more to be accomplished for these two. Three words: Repeat. Team. Title. Of course everyone is going to be focused on beating Camas, which will eventually fuel them with more fire to chase after another state team title for a second consecutive year. It will be tough to replace the senior trio of Luc Utheza, Spencer Twyman, and Austin Weese.
Jackson had a really good meet at the 4A state championships, but there were four other schools better than them that day. That's not a dis to the Timberwolves, that actually gives them something to look forward to this coming fall. Brendan Charbeneau is a legit talent, and Jackson has always produced well balanced runners which then leads to success at the state meet. Jordan Hansen is another talented runner looking his breakout year and crack the top 10 at state.
Editor's Note: The 2020 4A boys cross country preview was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.