Previewing the top 2A, 1A and 1B/2B individuals and teams at the 2022 State Cross Country Championships.
The time has come - the 2022 State Cross Country Championships are upon us.
Hundreds of teams and individuals will gather in Pasco at the Sun Willows Golf Course this coming weekend for what should be another memorable state championships in Washington.
I got you covered for everything you need to know with my state previews as we all look ahead at the top teams and individuals to watch for, as well as make predictions for the individual and team titles.
Teams to watch: Squalicum; Sehome; Bellingham
Outlook: The City of Bellingham wouldn't have wanted it any other way than to see all three of its schools vying for a state title. It's been a year of ups and down for all three teams, but they all make a case to bring home the golden runner behind each of their strengths.
After pulling off the school's first-ever state championship last fall, Squalicum continues to rely on its depth in 2022, led by the junior co-hort of Evan Rush, Chase Bartlett, Owen Voigt and Tyler Nielsen. Between those four, there's a 34 second gap separating them and three of them are ranked top 15 in the state.
The dynasty that is the Sehome Mariners saw its state title streak come to an end last season, but that was without Zack Munson. Now that he's return for his senior season, the Mariners are in a good position to get back into the state championship column. It hasn't just been his help though. Behind five sophomores and one freshman, Sehome has every one of those runners under 17 minutes, including a much-improved Skyler Gillham and Heath Terry.
Bellingham was plagued with injuries towards the beginning of the season, leaving them out of the discussion early in the year. With Will Giesen back and Paden Loveland making improvements, this Bayhawks team is ready to shine in Pasco. Quinn Hartsoch is another one to keep any eye out for after running his best time ever at district.
Just comes to show Bellingham is a city of champions. One of these school will be coming home with the top prize; it's just a matter of which team. I like the veteran Squalicum team to come out on top again, but a young Sehome team and an improved Bellingham squad should give its inner-city rival a run for its money,
The Runner WA pick: Squalicum over Sehome
Individuals to watch: Zack Munson, Sehome; Jack Gladfelter, Port Angeles; Samuel Grice, Washougal
Outlook: It's one of those races where you know who's going to win, but at the same time you never know what could happen. Zack Munson has been, by no surprise, the best in Washington this season. There isn't anything to question about a kid who's ran 14:55 this year and looks confident out front in races.
While I do say all these things, weird things can happen at state. I'm not saying they will, but if I you're someone who has paid close attention to the top kids this season, you can't write-out Jack Gladfelter. This runner is as tough as anybody in Washington and does not care who toes the line with him. Once he's on the start, his mindset is, "I'm going to win". That's the type of competitor he is and I know he will put a good fight against Munson. The same argument can be made for Washougal's Samuel Grice. He may not have the time close enough to compete with Munson, but he won't back down.
It's going to be closer than people think. At the end of the day, the best in the state will find a way to win, just like he did on the track last spring when he won the 3,200.
The Runner WA pick: Zack Munson
Teams to watch: Anacortes; Sehome; Bellingham
Outlook: Last year was clear who the best team in 2A was, but another school had other plans in mind. The upset Sehome pulled off over Anacortes was not expected given how well Anacortes had been running leading up to the final week of the year. Jessica Frydenlund did her part for the Seahawks by winning the individual title, but the rest of the team failed to match its season best efforts. The Mariners ran the race perfect, and it was enough to come away with the one-point win. They also got a big-time performance from Kaia Szymczak, placing seventh overall in a personal best effort.
The story is the same yet again in 2022. Anacortes has been the best team all year long, while Sehome sits behind them in second. We did get some Deja Vu though at last weekend's district meet. In 2021, the Seahawks beat the Mariners by three points at districts for the team title. This year at districts, the Seahawks beat the Mariners by five points. It makes you think what could happen this weekend given the outcomes last year.
Don't forget about Bellingham. This Bayhawks squad had a very good district meet and saw a young Zaya Smith run a 75 second PR. Things are going their way most recently.
Based on how Anacortes has run, this is their state title to lose. They have the best team on paper. There's no reason why they can't come away with the program's biggest win ever on the biggest of stages. Sehome's made for this type of this moment, for sure, but it's going to be the year of the Seahawks finally.
The Runner WA pick: Anacortes over Sehome
Individuals to watch: Jessica Frydenlund, Anacortes; Logan Hofstee, East Valley (Spokane); Sydnee Boothby, Washougal
Outlook: The best race of the day from an individual standpoint will be in the 2A girls as Anacortes' Jessica Frydenlund and East Valley's Logan Hofstee square off for the second time this year. In the first matchup at Hole in the Wall, Frydenlund squeaked by Hofstee at the tape after trailing her for the majority of the race, beating her by a margin of 17:38.7 to 17:40. It gave us a good sense of where the two were at the midway point of the season as well as what we can expect from them both at the state race.
Since their meeting, both Frydenlund and Hofstee have each won three consecutive races. Frydenlund lowered her 5k time down by seven seconds at last weekend's district meet to 17:31.8 to claim her second consecutive district title. Hofstee, who hasn't PR'd in a 5k since Hole in the Wall, won her district race at Apple Ridge in a 3-mile course record time of 17:16. Both are riding high on momentum, making it a race that's challenging to choose from.
Washougal's Sydnee Boothby has been on the rise of lately with recent efforts. The Clark College commit has run two 18:24 5k times in back-to-back races, leading her to wins in 2A GSHL League and District 4 Championships. If she's able to continue her upward trend, perhaps another PR is in her future this weekend.
This could be the greatest 2A race of all-time. Both Frydenlund and Hofstee are very talented runners and it's difficult to choose between which one will come out on top. But I'd like to point out the last time these two faced each other in state competition. At state track in the spring, Hofstee was able to outperform Frydenlund in both the 1,600 and 3,200 races. I'm not saying that can be the case this Saturday, but Hofstee has the confidence knowing she can beat Frydenlund. It's a coin flip type of pick, but I'm going with Hofstee on this one.
The Runner WA pick: Logan Hofstee
Teams to watch: Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls); Bush; Northwest
Outlook: Three schools make strong cases to be this year's champion for 1A boys. Between Lakeside, Bush and Northwest, they all have their strengths. The Eagles return as the three-time champions looking to make it a four-peat for head coach Steve Olsen. Like last year, it's not the most talented group but it's one that has the pieces to get the job done and it starts with Hayden Blank running a good race.
Conference rivals Bush and Northwest have two important pieces to their teams that will dictate their fate on Saturday. For the Blazers, Amare Fields and Duncan Frisbie-Smith are both going to need to be on the podium stand to give Bush enough points to surpass teams like Northwest and Lakeside. For Northwest, if Stephen Bleakley-Harris can pull off a state title with Desmond Stanfield cracking the top-five, the House will be sitting in a good place.
Many factors go into this race for three of these schools. Given the history of this meet, you can't count out the Northeast 1A teams to raise their game. That's why Lakeside will make it a four-peat because they are made for this moment.
The Runner WA pick: Lakeside over Bush
Individuals to watch: Reid Headrick, Medical Lake; Andrew Luce, Lynden Christian; Stephen Bleakley-Harris, Northwest
Outlook: Since the Tibebu Proctor and Kenneth Rooks matchup a few years back, this 1A race meets the same level of hype but with more talent to choose from. Between athletes like Medical Lake's Reid Headrick, Lynden Christian's Andrew, Northwest's Bleakley-Harris and almost anybody else in the top 10, it'll be anybody's race to take.
Since a tough race at Nike Portland XC, Headrick has shown vast improvement and simply has run the way we thought he would this season after an impressive spring. The senior has clocked a 1A state best 15:26.7 5k time and remains 16 seconds ahead of LC's Andrew Luce, who's second at 15:42. The two last raced each other at state track where Luce beat Headrick twice in the 800 and 1,600 races.
Bleakley-Harris sits in third at 15:46.2 but has yet to reach that mark since he last ran it back in September. He has won three of his last five races, including both the Emerald Sound Conference and District 2 Championships, and is probably ready to run another fast mark this weekend.
I like these three to take a shot at winning it all. Hec, I'd even like to see someone like Freeman's Barrett Poulsen be a part of the mix after watching what he's done this season. I don't think Medical Lake has seen one of their runners on top of the podium stand in the era of Gene Blakenship. I think that would be really cool, especially for a kid who has worked very hard throughout his career breaking school records left and right.
The Runner WA pick: Reid Headrick
Teams to watch: Lakeside; Overlake; Naches Valley
Outlook: Similar to the boys, the 1A girls field has multiple teams in the hunt for a state title in Overlake, Lakeside, Naches Valley and Port Townsend. The Owls accumulate the best five-runner spread of 49.8 seconds with all five runners ranked top 40 in the state. If Sarah Guranick can sneak her way onto the podium stand and the Owls get four more in the top 35, it'll be a challenge to beat them.
Lakeside's low stick Sadie Meyring has brought her team along to winning ways throughout the season because of the way she is racing. Whatever she does, it will favor Lakeside, but the Eagles are going to need runners like Mikayla Buckley and Tea Simmons to make their way into the top 25.
Naches Valley has been a dark horse squad from the beginning. With runners like Brooke Miles and Taryn Huck on the team, the Rangers remain a team no one should take likely given the success they've been having this season. Same can be said for Port Townsend. Their No. 1 runner Aliyah Yearian has come a long way from last season's efforts as a sophomore and perhaps could compete for an individual state title herself. However, we haven't seen her race in a few weeks so that's a bit concerning.
On paper, Overlake is the team to beat this season as they have remained atop the hypothetical meet. Going back to my point about the Northeast 1A League: those teams are made for this moment. Lakeside is a good team not only because of Meyring, but also a combination of veteran and youth talent. Should be a close team race.
The Runner WA pick: Lakeside over Naches Valley
Individuals to watch: Alexis Leone, Seton Catholic; Aliyah Yearian, Port Townsend; Sadie Meyring, Lakeside
Outlook: Given what we have seen from Alexis Leone this season and how she continues to blow away the competition, it's an easy decision to pick her to repeat. Last year's race showed some true guts from her as she went wire-to-wire with Meridian's Kayla Aalpoel to the very end to win her first-ever state title. The possibility of that happening again could occur with Port Townsend's Yearian and Lakeside's Meyring in the field.
Both Yearian and Meyring have made improvements over the last year, taking their 5k times down by an average of a minute to put them second and third, respectively, in 1A. If the two can handle running with Leone throughout the first half, there's no question they can't hang on to the defending state champion till the end.
Similar to last year, it could be a kicker's race and that's where Leone standouts. Her ability to drive her arms to go faster, even after running hard the first 2.75 miles, is something you can see she has worked on for years to perfect her kick. The defending champ will reign supreme for another year.
The Runner WA pick: Alexis Leone
Teams to watch: Chewelah; Pope John Paul II; Liberty Bell
Outlook: A year after failing to win the program's first state championship, the Pope John Paul II boys return to Pasco seeking vengeance with one of its most talented teams ever assembled. The Eagles have a 1B/2B best 23.2 second spread between its top five runners led by Max Salvador, who ranks 13th in the state with a time of 16:47.1. Between the five individuals, they all rank within the top 25 in the state, and all make legitamite cases to be on the podium stand together.
Chewelah poses as a threat to PJP2 with its dynamic duo of Cole Foster and Ty Crockett and a Cougars squad looking to make history. It's been 26 years since Chewelah last held the golden runner, and this year's team is more than capable of ending the drought with the talent they have. Given PJP2's depth, the Cougars will need to rely on guys like Blake Foster and Titus Tapia to really step up their racing to put Chewelah in a good spot to win.
The reigning champs Liberty Bell have struggled a bit this season, but still remain a contender with Dexter Delaney leading the way. While he does rank seventh in the state, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Delaney crack the top three, especially given his success in postseason running (3rd at 2B state track in 1,600 and 3,200 last spring).
Scoring between PJP2 and Chewelah will be close and come down to how their No. 3-5 runners perform. If Chewelah can get some personal best efforts from its middle pack and stay ahead of PJP2 throughout the race, things should go in favor of the Cougars.
The Runner WA pick: Chewelah over Pope John Paul II
Individuals to watch: Cole Foster, Chewelah; Ciaran St. Hilaire, Tri-Cities Prep; Asher Ingram, Northwest Christian (Lacey)
Outlook: For the first time this season, three of the best 1B/2B runners will face off against each other this Saturday in Chewelah's Foster, Tri-Cities Prep's Ciaran St. Hilaire and Northwest Christian's Asher Ingram.
Foster enters the field No. 1 in 1B/2B with his 15:46 personal best mark from earlier this year, followed by St. Hilaire in second at 16:07 and Ingram in third at 16:24.5.
Ingram is the top returner of the three after placing third as a junior in 2021 and is hoping to end his high school career with a state championship. Last spring, he won the 2B 3,200 state title to finish ahead of Foster.
St. Hilaire is a much-improved runner after this last spring running with Kamiakin in track for the first time as he lowered his personal best times in the 1,600 and 3,200 to 4:29.05 and 9:39.62.
Make your pick. Either of the three can win it all. Perhaps the individual and team title sweep will fall in Foster's favor. Only one way to find out, I guess.
The Runner WA pick: Cole Foster
Teams to watch: Pope John Paul II; St. George's; Garfield-Palouse
Outlook: A few years ago, this Pope John Paul II girls program was just starting up under the direction of Larry Weber. In the five years of the program having complete teams, they have turn themselves into a complete dynasty. The 2022 Eagles team may be the best group ever assembled with six of its seven varsity runners under 21 minutes for a 5k, which is very good for a 1B/2B program. Catelin King is having a career year leading this team with the second fastest time in the state and is hoping to come away with her third team state championship to cap off her four-year career.
Standing in the way of the Eagles three-peat are the Dragons of St. George's and the Vikings of Garfield-Palouse. St. George's is led by the individual frontrunner, Josie McLaughlin, who hopes to come away with her first cross country state title and add on to her three state titles she'd won in the spring during track. Garfield-Palouse has a trio of girls that are right there with each other, starting with Kennedy Cook - the all-around athlete who can do just about everything.
PJP2 just has too much this year for anyone to compete with. Teams can try, but it'll take a lot of personal best performances to get the job done if they want to knock off the two-time defending champs.
The Runner WA pick: Pope John Paul II over St. George's
Individuals to watch: Josie McLaughlin, St. George's; Catelin King, Pope John Paul II; Madison Ingram, Northwest Christian
Outlook: We knew the capability McLaughlin had coming in as freshman last year. It was a good start finishing fourth at last year's state meet, but by the end of her school year, she showed a lot of maturity and growth. Her spring track season was one for the books as she led the Dragons to another state team title behind her stellar performances in the 1,600, 3,200 and anchor of the 4x400 relay. Now as a sophomore, she continues to show her strengths as a runner throughout this fall and remains the best girl in 1B/2B heading into state.
Northwest Christian's Madison Ingram is another talented sophomore that finished ahead of McLaughlin in third at last year's state meet. However, she has yet to get back to her running ways where she was at as a freshman. She remains third in the state behind McLaughlin and PJP2's King where she'll have the opportunity to surpass them this weekend.
McLaughlin is a tough runner to beat. Another runner whose confidence is through the roof that is difficult to match. This is her race to take.
The Runner WA pick: Josie McLaughlin