Updated: Sep 6
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 1B/2B runners and teams to watch for on the boy's side.
Nicholas Baker, Republic
A big leap near the end of the season has put Nicholas Baker in a good position going into his senior year. As a junior, Baker ranked in the 1B/2B top 10 for 5k races, running a personal best effort of 16:26.8 at his league championship meet two weeks prior to racing at state. At the meet, he finished ninth overall, earning his first state medal of his career and besting his freshman state finish by 89 spots. He is one of two athletes in the Tigers cross country program.
Dexter Delaney, Liberty Bell
While Dexter Delaney's freshman cross season might have been cut short, it was the spring track season that showed us what his true capabilities were at. In the 1,600 and 3,200 races, Delaney ran personal best efforts of 4:31.59 and 9:55.03 ranking him top three overall and the No. 1 freshman at the 2B level. He went on to place third in both races at the state track meet where he ran his personal best effort in the 1,600 and was within three seconds of his 3,200 personal best run. During cross, Delaney only race three times, but ran a 5k personal best effort of 16:20 - the fourth fastest time in 1B/2B. Delaney returning this fall gives the Mountain Lions a big advantage to repeat as team champions at the state meet.
Cole Foster, Chewelah
The opportunity to do something big this cross country season is right there for Cole Foster's taking - now he just needs his moment. The senior has come a long way from his freshman year, dropping his 5k down form 19:41.9 to 16:07.8 this past season en route to winning his league's championship title. Going into the 1B/2B state meet ranked second in the state, Foster came short of top-five expectations, finishing 11th overall in the field. Come track season, Foster bounced back and was right where he needed to be at the 2B state meet. He finished second in the 3,200, running a personal best effort of 9:52.75, and took fourth in the 1,600, running 4:34.90 - .29 off his personal best. When you take away the junior cross season ending, Foster was able to prove during track that he can compete in stressful situations at the state meet. There's no reason why he couldn't put himself in a position to go a state championship.
Ben Graham, NW Christian (Colbert)
It's the season of redemption for Ben Graham. The senior enters his final year of cross country with the fastest returning 5k time in 16:06 from a junior campaign that showed signs of promise as well as some downs. After being ranked at the top of the state throughout the year, Graham fell short of the podium, finishing a disappointing 38th overall. Nonetheless, more improving numbers came along during the track season last spring as he was able to drop his 1,600 and 3,200 times to 4:37.32 and 10:10.26. Graham qualified for the 2B state meet in the 3,200 where he placed fifth overall. It's no secret what Graham is capable of as a runner. When it's his day, this is a tough runner to compete with.
Will Halpin, Liberty Bell
Will Halpin was perhaps the gutsiest competitor in the 1B/2B state field last season. Not only did his efforts lead to a second-place individual finish where he came close to beating the reigning champion - Ilwaco's Daniel Quintana - it helped Liberty Bell win the program's first state team title since the '98 season. Ranked outside the top-10 all season long, Halpin put together a 5k personal best effort of 16:33.1 in his second race of the year and came within that time by three seconds at the state meet to conclude a much-improved sophomore season. During track, Halpin ran personal best efforts of 4:40.63 in the 1,600 and 10:14.90 in the 3,200. With Delaney and Halpin racing together, the Mountain Lions make up the best duo at the 1B/2B level, making it very difficult for opponents to compete up front.
Ciaran St. Hilaire, Tri-Cities Prep
There's plenty to like about Ciaran St. Hilaire and what he brings to the table as a runner. Whether it's competing with Tri-Cities Prep or Kamiakin, St. Hilaire shows what true potential looks like. In cross country with Tri-Cities Prep, he placed fourth overall at the 1B/2B state meet, running a 5k personal best time of 16:52.5 just months after running his first high school race in 19:56. During the spring, St. Hilaire got to compete with Kamiakin's track team (Tri-Cities doesn't have a track program) where we saw more impressive times from him. He'd go onto to run 4:29.05 in the 1,600 and 9:39.62 in the 3,200 in just first-ever season running track. St. Hilaire is an early sleeper pick to win the state crown this season, but by mid-season he could be the favorite based on how's run as of lately.
Asher Ingram, NW Christian (Lacey)
A bounce back running year for Asher Ingram last season gives us an idea of what's to come this senior season. Just month after running some of his slowest 5k races ever, the lone remaining athlete from NW Christian's 2019 state champion team had another year to remember as he placed third overall at the 1B/2B state meet last season and ranked top-20 in the state with a 5k personal best effort of 16:37.6. During track, Ingram had another career season as he came away with his first state title at the 2B meet, winning the 3,200 in a personal best effort of 9:50.37. Ingram also added a fifth-place finish in the 1,600, running another personal best 4:36.24. Another top-three finish at the state meet this fall is right there for Ingram's taking.
Teams to watch for:
- The reigning champs are the most complete group returning this fall. With Halpin back, he'll be leading a Liberty Bell team that returns all of its state competitors that'll be seniors and juniors this coming year. And on top of that, the addition of Delaney for a full season will make this Mountains Lions team so much better in the long run.
- Perhaps the youngest team of the four on this list, the St. George's boys are a group to not be taken lightly. Sophomores Hrair Garabedian and senior Ben Morales were impactful runners for head coach Rick Riley's group that had five freshmen, one sophomore, and one junior on its fourth-place state team. Like Liberty Bell, all of St. George's state participants return this season, giving the Dragons a team built to bring home a state championship for the first time since the '07 season.
Pope John Paul II
- The work head coach Larry Weber has done to build this program up the last few years has been remarkable. This year's team won't be anything different with plenty of state returnees as they'll be in the title mix after finishing second last season. Losing Trevor Dugo to graduation is a tough asset, but between seniors Luke Christensen and Samuel Rucker, and sophomore Logan Johnson, they make up a great trio that can help put this team back on top of the 1B/2B ranks for the second time in three years.
- Is this the year the Davenport Gorillas do something great? In the history of the program, not a single team has come home with a state trophy. This season, that should change. With six returning state athletes back, the Gorillas are an experience bunch with five seniors but will be led by junior Jaegar Jacobsen - the second fastest individual in 1B/2B - who hopes to be in the mix for a top-five individual finish.