2022 XC Preview: 1A Boys
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
One of the greatest running seasons in Washington high school history has come and gone. The 2022 season showed us all the hard work and dedication each athlete had put in during the COVID era and the results were nothing but great when it came to competing on the biggest of stages.
Alas, a new era of running begins this fall with another talented group of individuals returning and looking to make more history in hopes of rewriting the record books as they continue Washington's rise to nationwide dominance.
The 2022 cross country season is upon us, so let's run it back again.
Here is your first look at the top 1A runners and teams to watch for on the boy's side.
Hayden Blank, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls)
Another career year in the books for Hayden Blank last fall as he continues to rise up on the Lakeside leaderboards. As a junior, Blank ran a 5k personal best time of 16:24 and finished seventh overall at the 1A state cross country meet, leading the Eagles to its third consecutive state championship and ninth in program history. Blank is also one of the more talented all-around athletes on this list proving he could do just about anything - especially on the track. This past spring, he ran a lifetime best 1:59.60 in the 800 at the state meet to place seventh overall and also helped Lakeside's 4x400 relay team win a state title. In the field, he threw a personal best throw of 152'3 in javelin and qualified for state where he placed 14th. There's no reason Blank can't go down in school history as the best to ever lace them up at Lakeside. Hec, there's no reason he can't go down as one of the greatest athletes ever. A sub 16 effort and another state team championship this year would solidify his legacy for sure.
Joseph Blanshan, Seton Catholic
No one else wants more redemption in their final high school season than Joseph Blanshan. The recent Seton Catholic transfer was racing at an all-time high last fall as a junior for La Center, posting a 5k personal best time of 15:31.7 and absolutely running away from his competition in the Trico League. Despite all the momentum, Blanshan fell short of his goal finishing in the top five at the 1A state cross country meet as he placed a disappointing 12th overall in Pasco. Aside from the end of cross, a bounce back was expected in the spring, and Blanshan continued to deliver personal best efforts and state best performances in his distance events. At the state meet, Blanshan finished as the runner-up in the 3,200, running a time of 9:38.25, then finished fourth in the 1,600, running a time of 4:20.50 - a La Center school record. It's Blanshan's year to take it all this fall. The senior returns with the No. 1 time in the state and is feeling really good about what's to come.
Stephen Bleakley-Harris, Northwest
Throughout the cross country season, consistency was there for Stephen Bleakley-Harris. He ran right around the sub-16-minute range for the better half of the year and produced a 5k personal best effort of 15:56.1. Towards the end of the year, he failed to reach that mark again, but managed to come away with his best finish ever at the 1A state meet, placing fourth overall to best his 72nd placing from his freshman season. On the track, Bleakley-Harris produced two new personal best efforts of 4:28.14 in the 1,600 and 9:41.80 in the 3,200. At state, he earned two fifth-place finishes in both of those events to conclude a much-improved junior year. Bleakley-Harris will be a sneaky contender for the individual crown this season and looks to become the third Northwest runner in program history in to win a state championship, joining Tibs Proctor (2015, 2016) and Graham Peet (2013)
Reid Headrick, Medical Lake
It's been a long journey, but Reid Headrick finally proved his worth last spring with a strong track season to finish out his junior campaign. In his first full-length season, the Cardinals' top runner ran lifetime best efforts in the 800 and 1,600 races, running 1:55.82 and a Medical Lake school record 4:20.09. He then went onto earn two third-place finishes at the 1A state meet in both of those events highlighted by his school record run in the 1,600. During the fall, Headrick made another big jump on the cross country course, dropping his 5k time down from 16:58 in the early spring to 16:16.4 in early October. He would come close to matching that mark again at the state meet when he finished third overall in 16:16.8, guiding the Cardinals to a fourth-place team finish. The much-improved Headrick is one to not take lightly this coming season and is surely on the hunt for an individual state title.
Andrew Luce, Lynden Christian
While Andrew Luce's junior cross country season wasn't what he hoped it'd be, it was just a build up for a historic track season to come in the spring. Battling his way through an ankle injury, Luce made a tremendous bounce back on the track as he set three new Lynden Christian school records in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 races. Two of those came at the 1A state meet when he placed second in both the 800 and 1,600 races in times of 1:55.22 and 4:16.72. His 3,200 mark was set earlier in the season at 9:34.60. During his short cross season, Luce ran in a total of three 5ks, including a trip to the state meet where he ran a personal best effort of 16:39.8 to place sixth overall - 40 placings hire than his freshman finish. Another runner no one should take lightly especially with all sorts of momentum heading into the fall. If I had to pick, Luce might be the dark horse to win the individual crown.
Sam Soto, Seton Catholic
Freshman year for Sam Soto was a tale of two seasons. Starting in the fall, the highlight of Soto's first high school season was running a 5k personal best effort of 15:56.6 - the second fastest freshman time in the state - but it was followed by a disappointing 36th place finish at the 1A state cross country meet to round out the first half of the year. Nonetheless, the springtime saw better results and more consistency from Soto when he ran with Whisper Running Club. He put together personal best efforts in the 1,500 and mile races, running 4:21.72 and 4:38.62. It's still a mystery as to what this runner is capable of. We saw the potential in year one, but what does sophomore season have in store?
Desmond Stanfield, Northwest
Behind Bleakley-Harris sits another top-notched competitor for Northwest's squad this season in Desmond Stanfield. The junior took a big step in cross country his sophomore season as he ran down his 5k time by over a minute from his COVID season to run 16:46.5 in early October. From there, Stanfield went onto to qualify for the 1A state meet and finished alongside Bleakley-Harris on the podium placing eighth overall in the field. In the spring, Stanfield showed more improvements on the track in the 1,600 and 3,200 races as he went from running 5:06.96 and 11:20.84 his freshman year to running personal best efforts of 4:35.16 and 9:44.01 as a sophomore. Stanfield also qualified for the state meet in the 3,200 where he placed third overall. Similar to Seton Catholic's Soto, we're just getting to know Stanfield as a runner and as a competitor.
Teams to watch for:
- The Cougars got something brewing after recently adding transfers Blanshan from La Center and junior Cohen Thomas from Fort Vancouver. When you add those two with Soto, Seton Catholic is a tough team to beat now and will be the early heavy favorites to win the 1A team title.
- The three-time defending champs are in good hands with the return of Blank for his senior season, but head coach Steve Olsen will have another challenge similar to last season's team - finding an identity. In the bigger picture, it'll help having a ton of seniors in the program, including three more who ran at the state meet alongside Blank. Talent wise they got a ways to go, but coach Olsen knows how to get his guys ready to peak at the state meet.
- This Cardinals' group should be a fun one to watch grow over the season. We already know where a runner like Headrick is at given his success rate in the spring, but how about the youngsters entering year two? This includes Nakai Ornelas, Garrett Montney, and Hector Gomez - three runners who competed at the state meet last fall as freshman and who also were main contributors throughout the season. It's a solid group head coach Gene Blankenship has and it ought to be fun to watch them compete with Lakeside for another year.
- You look at a team like Bush on paper and think to yourself, "Yeah they're legit." That's because they are. This Blazers' group was a close bunch at the state meet last fall with an average time of 18:04.3. With six of those seven runners returning this season, including senior Amare Fields - 16th in the field - this team becomes a true title contender in a year where it may be up in the air as to who wins. Depth will play in the Blazers' favor.