2021 Top 10 Girls Distance Runners

It was hard to believe just 15 months ago the Coronavirus pandemic canceled an entire track and field season in the state of Washington.

But in a year of uncertainty, this was truly a season to remember.

Not only did these athletes get their chances to compete this spring, but they also went above and beyond all our expectations in all aspects of the sport.

To conclude this track season, we look back at the top 10 girls distance runners from the 2021 year.


1. Ella Borsheim, Bellarmine Prep

Ella Borsheim proved her worth between cross country and track once again as one of Washington's best distance runners this season. The Bellarmine junior was first in the state in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races running personal best marks of 4:48.27 and 10:20.49. She was also second in the state for the 800-meter running a season-best time of 2:13.11, two seconds off her personal best mark from her freshman season. Look for Borsheim to go after the distance triple crown in her senior season as the top returning runner for all classes.

2. Allie Janke, North Central

Allie Janke after her winning her second 3A state cross country championship in Pasco at the Sun Willows Golf Course. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

An incredible career has come to a close for North Central's Allie Janke, but her legacy won't be forgotten once she heads to run for Arkansas this fall. Janke ran two season-best marks in the shortened track season running 4:52.49 for the 1,600 and 10:17.89 in the 3,200 ranking top three in the state in both events. Then, this past month, Janke was invited to compete at the Portland Track Festival to run in the high-performance 1,500-meter race, featuring multiple pro athletes, as she placed 28th of 31 runners in a personal best time of 4:23.42. The following week she returned to Portland to race at the Stumptown Twilight in the high school 3,200, where she ran her season-best time, defeating Issaquah's Julia-David Smith and Bellarmine's Ella Borsheim.

3. Julia David-Smith, Issaquah

Julia David-Smith on her way to win the 2019 4A state cross country championship in Pasco at the Sun Willows Golf Course. (Amanda Ray/ Yakima Herald-Republic)

Julia David-Smith leaves Issaquah as arguably the greatest to have ever run for the program. The University of Washington commit ran some of the best times of her young career this season running a personal best 4:50.27 for the 1,600 and season-best times of 2:13.49 in the 800 at the Tacoma High-Performance Meet and 10:24.27 in the 3,200 at the Stumptown Twilight, both of which were her top performances of the season despite finishing second in both. In addition, David-Smith leaves Issaquah capturing 29 individual wins in track, multiple state podium finishes, and a state championship in the 1,600 her sophomore season.

4. Claudia Harnett, Lakeside (Seattle)

Not very many knew the name of Claudia Harnett before this season, but the Metro League got to witness one of the most improved athletes in our state this spring. Harnett dropped her 800 personal best time from her sophomore by six seconds to run a state-leading 2:11.16 and ran a 12 second PR in the 1,600 running 4:51.95. She would win both events at the Metro League Culminating Event and finish the season with an undefeated racing record. Harnett leaves Lakeside having only competed at state one time when she placed sixth in the 1,600 but has run one of the fastest 800 times in school history.

5. Ella Nelson, Walla Walla

Photo courtesy of Ella Nelson.

Ella Nelson's high school career has been a rollercoaster dealing with plenty of highs and lows. The talent was always there, but her ability to overcome adversity made her stand out from the rest. Nelson ranked top 10 in the state this season in each of the distance races running season-best times of 2:16.06 in the 800 (7th), 4:55.62 in the 1,600 (3rd), and 10:53.24 in the 3,200 (6th). The University of Oregon commit finished her senior season with an undefeated racing record and led the Blue Devils to second-place team finish at the Mid-Columbia Conference Championships with wins in the 800 and 1,600.

6. Lily O'Donoghue-McDonald, Seattle Prep

Lily O'Donoghue McDonald competing at the 2019 Bellevue Invite. Photo courtesy of Sydney Stone.

Another talented athlete from the Metro League who made a burst on the running scene this spring was Lily O'Donoghue-McDonald. The Seattle Prep junior was the runner-up at the Metro League Culminating Invite for the 1,600 as she ran a personal best time of 4:56.68, and then two days later won her first Metro League title for the 3,200 running a lifetime best time of 10:50.08. In addition, O'Donoghue-McDonald was a first-team all-state selection for The Runner WA in cross country and won 10 races with a 5k personal best time of 17:44.2.

7. Claire Archer, Roosevelt

Photo courtesy of Claire Archer.

Injuries have taken opportunities from Claire Archer to compete in track in her first two years. Now that she is healthy, Archer is one of the most talented runners in Washington. She surprised many after an impressive cross country debut season earlier this spring running a 5k personal best time of 17:30.6 and winning the Metro League title. The success didn't stop there as Archer continued to run personal best times in track in the 1,600 (4:57.38) and the 3,200 (10:55.65), both top 10 marks in Washington. She finished third in both events as well at the Metro League Culminating Meet.

8. Anna Grabowski, Liberty (Issaquah)

Photo from ncsasports.org.

Of all the track awards season, no one was more deserving of the Most Improved award than Liberty's Anna Grabowski. Grabowski dropped her 1,600 time by 24 seconds to run 5:04.31, and then her 3,200 time by over a minute to run 10:41.72, a new school record for the Liberty program and the No. 1 time in 3A this season. Grabowski was a top 15 finisher at the 2019 2A state meet, and this past fall, she ran a new personal best time of 18:30. She will be one of the top returning runners this fall but will be a dark-horse runner at the 3A state meet.

9. Alyvia Brown, Hazen

Between the 800 and 1,600 races, Hazen's Alyvia Brown was the fastest sophomore in Washington this spring with times of 2:14.52 and 5:03.93. Although this is her first official year running for a high school team, her recent success is no stranger to club running. Brown is a multiple-time Junior Olympic-American runner for Cascade Striders out of Bellevue, including winning a national title in the 1,500 as a 12-year old back in 2017.

10. Natalie Ruzauskas, Richland

Natalie Ruzauskas (811) running at the Yakima XC Meet of Champions. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

Natalie Ruzauskas finishes her junior year with yet another solid running season setting new personal best times of 2:15.82 in the 800, 5:03.8 in the 1,600, and 11:03.04 in the 3,200. In a challenging Mid-Columbia Conference, Ruzauskas led Richland to the girl's team title, placing second in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and a member of the first-place 4x400 relay team for the Bombers.

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