A look at the top girl's athletes to watch in the 2021 track season.
Hard to believe just a little over a year ago, we were left without a high school track and field season in Washington.
Many lost opportunities to compete at the state meet in the hope of coming away with individual titles, while others lost their final season of high school athletics.
Through the tough year that was 2020, student-athletes across the country found ways to make the best of the situation by competing in virtual races and time trials on their own.
Despite the lack of competition at your usual meet and invite, many came away with lifetime best marks and incredible performances, making the spring of "2020 season" one they won't ever forget.
As track and field makes its return to Washington this spring, here is your preview of some of the athletes to keep an eye out for this season on the girl's side.
Ella Borsheim, Bellarmine Prep
- It's fair to say Bellarmine's Ella Borsheim is back to running at her highest capability after a much-improved cross country season this spring. The top junior in the state had an undefeated record of 4-0 in cross country and ran a 4,000-meter personal-best mark of 14:11.9, wherein the fall she ran a 5k personal best time 16:55.8. Borsheim began her track season with two unattached races at the NSAF Meet of Champions in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, placing fourth in the mile running a season-best 4:53.89 and placing fifth in the two-mile in a personal best 10:36.04.
Julia David-Smith, Issaquah
- Between the fall and this spring, Issaquah's Julia David-Smith had probably the greatest cross country season of her high school career despite no state meet occurring this school year. The Washington commit ran a new lifetime 5k best time of 17:02 in September at the Desert Daylight XC Invite and won all three high school cross country races in an Issaquah uniform for the final time. David-Smith comes into the track season posting personal-best marks of 2:13.01 in the 800-meter, 4:50,35 in the 1,600-meter, and 10:31.68 in the 3,200-meter.
Allie Janke, North Central
- The absence of a regular cross country season won't stop North Central's Allie Janke from having a dream-type senior year. In the four races Janke had competed in this spring cross country season, not only did she go undefeated in and dominate the GSL competition, but she broke two-course records at Franklin Park's three-mile course in a personal best 17:12.7 and Central Valley High School's 5k course in a season-best 17:37.6. Janke will be heading to Arkansas next fall to run for the Razorbacks with personal-best marks of 16:43 for 5k, 4:42.91 in the mile, and 10:10.83 in the 3,200-meter.
Ella Nelson, Walla Walla
- Injuries kept Walla Walla's Ella Nelson from being a top-three podium contender at the 4A State Cross Country Meet in 2019. With extra recovery over the last year from racing, Nelson's health benefited in the long term. Her senior cross country season was a vast improvement, especially in a fast Mid-Columbia Conference. The Oregon commit ran season-best marks of 17:40.4 for three miles and 18:32.9 for 5k, a race where she was third at the MCC Championships. If you thought she bounced back in cross country, just a week and a half later starting in track, Nelson has run 2:17.16 for 800-meters, 4:57.5 for 1,600-meters, and 10:53.6 for 3,200-meters.
Sarah Mirkin, Holy Names
-Holy Names' Sarah Mirkin is more than ready to get after it on the track her senior year after a solid build-up from the spring cross country season. The six-time state track podium finisher and Notre Dame commit enters her final high school season with personal-best marks of 2:13.27 in the 800-meter and 5:03.33 in the 1,600-meter, as she ran those at the 2019 3A State Track Meet where she placed top five in both events. Mirkin has also thrown down some fast 400-meter times and has a personal best time of 1:00.82, and was a member of the Cougar's last two 4x400-meter relay teams that placed top five at state.
Others to Watch:
Lauren Larson, Port Angeles
Allyson Peterson, Hockinson
Lili Hargreaves, Redmond
Macy Marquardt, Kennewick
Natalie Ruzauskas, Richland
Emily Van Valkenburg, Eastlake
Adaji Osaro-Igwe, Tahoma
- For the past few seasons, the Tahoma Bears have produced some of the best sprinters the state has ever seen, but the one who stands out the most is Adaji Osaro-Igwe. From short sprints to long sprints, Osaro-Igwe can do it all as she holds personal-best marks of 11.76 in the 100-meter, 23.68 in the 200-meter, and 58.28 in the 400-meter. In her sophomore year at the 4A State Track Meet, Osaro-Igwe was second in the 100 behind three-time state champion and teammate Aliya Wilson, first in the 200, and a key leg to the Bears 4x100-meter relay state championship team.
Antoinette Stubbfield, Sammamish
- Sammamish's Antoinette Stubbfield was nearly unbeatable at the 2A level her sophomore season. The reason I say nearly is that there was a little hiccup at the 2019 2A State Meet because she had a false start in the 200-meter that ruined her chances at an individual title after coming off a personal best run of 24.92 at the district meet the week before. Fortunately, she bounced back the next day in the 100-meter final winning in a time of 12.21 and helped the Totems 4x200-meter relay team to a fourth-place finish.
Ashley Hollebeck, Bonney Lake
- A former teammate of Tahoma's Osaro-Igwe, Bonney Lake's Ashley Hollenbeck began to carve her own path to success when she joined the Panthers back in her sophomore year and hasn't looked back since. Hollenbeck was third in the 100 and 200-meter races at the 2019 3A State Track Meet, posting times of 12.6 and a personal best of 25.34. The Washington State commit has raced three times this track season and is undefeated in the 100 and 200-meter up to this point of her senior year running times of 12.44 and 26.34.
Emma Pollak, Kentwood
- Kentwood's Emma Pollak is the strongest sprinter of this bunch. Not just because of her ability in the 400-meter, but her talents in the hurdles as well. In her sophomore year, Pollak's performances at the 2019 4A State Track Meet were through the roof as she was the runner-up in both the 400 and 300-meter hurdles and led the Conquerors' 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter relay teams to state titles. Last spring, Pollak ran a lifetime best 56.5 in the 400 to place first in the Twilight Trials Virtual Meet, and then two months later was the runner-up at the West Coast AAU Junior Olympic Games running 57.39.
Kymeal Gaulden, Central Kitsap
- 15 wins and two state runner-up finishes in your freshman season are not too shabby for Central Kitsap's Kymeal Gaulden. Gaulden showed signs of potential all season long with personal-best marks of 12.23 in the 100-meter and 24.7 in the 200-meter, but it wasn't until the 3A State Track Meet where we saw how great of a competitor she truly is. To go along with these marks, she also ran 60.27 in the open 400-meter. In her first two meets of the season as a junior, Gaulden has run a season-best 13.31 in the 100 and guided the Cougars to wins in the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays.
Others to Watch:
Riley Pyeatt, Sequim
Ava Wolin, Olympia
Alyssa Cullen, North Kitsap
Taylor Woodworth, River Ridge
Linsey Lovrovich, Peninsula
Morgan Little, Mt. Tahoma
Shaela Bradley, La Center
Note: The 2021 Girls Track Preview was compiled by The Runner WA cross country and track and field analyst Keenan Gray.