With the high school cross-country season in Washington set to begin in March of 2021, The Runner WA has put together a list of the top 50 runners to watch for this coming spring season. These rankings are based on their 2019 season performances and the 2020 COVID season this fall if they had run a time trial or virtual meet.
Here are the runners ranked 21 through 30 for the boys.
30. Kobe Deutscher, Pope John Paul II
2019 Time: 15:49.7
2019 State: 3rd (1B/2B), 16:05.8
2020 Time: N/A
Analysis: The 2019 track and field season was a great indicator for Kobe Deutscher's potential as one of the top small-school middle distance runners, but it was this past fall that proved he can accomplish more at the 5k distance. Along with his own success, Deutscher leads a talented returning PJP2 team to a hopeful state team title. With the second-fastest returning time in the 1B/2B level, Deutscher is in the conversation to challenge Ilwaco's Daniel Quintana.
29. Carp Mukai, Kamiak
2019 Time: 16:11
2019 State: 52nd (4A), 16:15.9
2020 Time: 15:28
Analysis: Carp Mukai is coming off a season he feels wasn't his best, especially since he broke 16 minutes as a sophomore but didn't come close to that mark as a junior. But after a big summer of training, the Kamiak senior comes into the 2020-2021 season with a chip on his shoulder and is ready to prove many wrong. Dropping a time of 15:28 this fall, Mukai is among the top 16 returning runners in 4A this spring.
28. Hale Behan, Sammamish
2019 Time: 15:49.8
2019 State: 7th (2A), 15:49.8
2020 Time: N/A
Analysis: Sammamish hasn't been known for producing great distance runners, but Hale Behan has set the standard now for the years to come for the Totems program. A tough competitor in both track and cross country, Behan had a terrific sophomore season placing seventh at the 2A state meet, all while running a new personal best time of 15:49.8. Coming from a tough 2A district in 1 and 2, Behan will be more than ready to perform at his best come the state meet.
27. Alex Wright, Central Valley
2019 Time: 15:51.1
2019 State: 25th (4A), 15:51.1
2020 Time: 16:37
Analysis: Alex Wright got his first taste of varsity experience last year after the departure of six seniors from a very talented 2018 Central Valley team. Wright made the most of it running a personal best time of 15:51 at the 4A state meet placing 25th. Wright has proven he will put in the work to get better, and the expectations for him this season will be even greater than last year. This will be a young, inexperienced Bears team that will rely on him and teammate Caleb Kartchner this year.
26. Caleb Kartchner, Central Valley
2019 Time: 15:50.6
2019 State: 24th (4A), 15:50.6
2020 Time: N/A
Analysis: Caleb Kartchner is a mirror image of his teammate Wright. Kartchner also got his chance to prove what he could do as a first-year varsity runner, and a 24th place finish at the 4A state meet is something to build upon in this upcoming spring. Between Kartchner and Wright, it will be difficult to replace a third-place state finisher in Tyler Hunter, but their productivity can create a balanced attack at the one and two positions for the Bears.
25. Cooper Quigley
2019 Time: 15:48.8
2019 State: 6th (2A), 15:48.8
2020 Time: 17:18
Analysis: Cooper Quigley's athleticism strikes me the most when analyzing his ability as a runner. His speed as a middle-distance runner is one of the best in 2A, but his improvement in strength training last cross country season carried him to success. I would give him credit for his basketball explosiveness, but he also had to compete against a few state podium placers such as his own teammate, Shea Mattson, Pullman's Eliason Kabasenche, Cheney's Bas Holland, and West Valley of Spokane's Kolby Green throughout the season.
24. Cameron McCann, Bethel
2019 Time: 15:47
2019 State: 12th (3A), 15:47
2020 Time: N/A
Analysis: He was a great 3A runner last season, but can Cameron McCann be a great 4A runner with Bethel moving up this school year? McCann's 12th place finish at the 3A state meet was impressive given the competition he went up against last season such as Kamiakin and Bishop Blanchet, but it shouldn't come as a shock. This is one of the most underrated runners in our state and has even more to prove this spring.
23. Sawyer Dagan, Steilacoom
2019 Time: 15:45.6
2019 State: 5th (2A), 15:45.6
2020 Time: 16:17
Analysis: As the top returning runner from the 2A state meet, the expectations for Sawyer Dagan are going to be high in his senior year. But the Sentinels top runner has proven he isn't afraid of taking on challenges, especially at the biggest racing stage. He has also become quite the competitive racer over the last year, and at a 2A level where the individual title might be the most competitive of all classifications, we will see how he moves forward after an excellent junior year.
22. Mason Watamura, Curtis
2019 Time: 15:51.3
2019 State: 36th (4A), 15:58.8
2020 Time: 15:20.9
Analysis: When you compete against teams like Camas, Olympia, and Tahoma, you know you will be pushed to run some fast times. Mason Watamura has already done so without competition this fall running a 31 second personal best 5k time of 15:20.9 in a recent time trial. Imagine what he could put together when he runs against top-notch state runners like Camas' Sam Geiger and Evan Jenkins, and Olympia's Ethan Coleman.
21. Ethan Pedersen, Eastlake
2019 Time: 16:48.2
2019 State: N/A
2020 Time: 15:10.2
Analysis: The early-season most improved award would definitely go to Ethan Pedersen. If you were to tell me this athlete would go from running 16:48 as a freshman to running 15:10 as a sophomore, I would have bet against those odds. With that being said, whatever kind of training Pedersen did in the off-season, it seems to be paying off. The opportunity to see what he can do this spring is something we should all be looking forward to, especially since he's been getting some attention on the national level.
To view previous 2021 top 50 Washington cross country rankings, click below:
Note: The 2021 Washington boys' top 50 cross country rankings were compiled by The Run Down Podcast crew of Keenan Gray, Alex McIntire, and Kyle Paulson.