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 girl's side.
Leki Albright, Liberty Bell
When the time was right, Leki Albright made sure to bring her best effort on the biggest of running stages in her first full-length cross country season. Last fall, the Liberty Bell sophomore surprised many people at the final race of the season, finishing second overall in a 5k personal best effort of 19:40.4, leading the Mountain Lions to a second-place team trophy. Albright's success continued in the spring on the track as she earned another runner-up finish at the state meet in the 3,200, then added a fourth-place finish in the 1,600. She ran personal best efforts of 5:25.80 and 11:33.28. The 1B/2B top-returning state cross country podium placer hopes she can add another medal to her resume in her junior season, but also lead Liberty Bell back to another state title.
Adeline Hecht, Pope John Paul II
Adeline Hecht learned a lot about herself in year one of high school running. In the fall, Hecht ran a 5k personal best effort of 20:42.1 and eventually finished 18th at the 1B/2B state cross country meet as part of Pope John Paul II's state title team. While it was an okay cross season, her track season truly defined her freshman year. Hecht managed to push her limits during the springtime in the 800 and 1,600 races as she went on to run personal best efforts of 2:34.15 and 5:41.98. It eventually led up to two fifth-place finishes in both of those events at the 1B state meet, helping the Eagles win the school's first-ever state track team title.
Ashleigh Hightree, Garfield-Palouse
After taking a year off during the pandemic season, Ashleigh Hightree found herself back in the mix with the top 1B/2B athletes in year one of high school cross country. As a sophomore, Hightree ran a 5k personal best effort of 20:29.5 and finished the season with a 15th place run at the state meet, leading Garfield-Palouse to a fourth-place team finish. With the seventh fastest returning mark this fall, Hightree is a top-10 podium finisher in the making is she continues to make improvements throughout her junior season.
Madison Ingram, NW Christian (Lacey)
The potential has always been there for Madison Ingram since the moment she began to run. In her first year of competing at the high school level, Ingram was the top runner for NW Christian for both cross country and track. In the fall, she ran a 5k personal best time of 19:21 - ranking her fourth in 1B/2B - and earned herself a third place at the 1B/2B state meet. During track, Ingram kept hitting positive marks in the spring, running personal best efforts of 5:32.42 in the 1,600 and 12:12.06 in the 3,200. She'd go on to finish her freshman year placing in both of those events at state track, finishing fourth in the 3,200 and fifth in the 1,600. Another strong fall by Ingram is needed to contend for a state cross title in her sophomore season.
Catelin King, Pope John Paul II
Consistency was Catelin King's game last season. In the fall, she ran all her 5k races between 20-21 minutes - running a personal best effort in 20:12 - and wound-up finishing ninth overall at the 1B/2B state meet, helping Pope John Paul II win its second consecutive state title. On the track, King showed more progress in the 1,600 and 3,200 races, running personal best efforts of 5:35.66 and 12:25.52. She made her first trip to the 1B state meet where she came away with runner-up finish in the 3,200 behind former teammate Clare Kondrat, then placed third in the 1,600. King showed plenty of positives in her junior year, but she'll need to continue showing improvements if the Eagles want to bring home another state title for a third year.
Josie McLaughlin, St. George's
The Dragons got a special runner that's on the rise in Josie McLaughlin. As a freshman, McLaughlin excelled in every way possible in both cross country and track seasons. In the fall, she ran a 5k personal best effort of 19:06 at the beginning of the year and finished the season placing fourth at the 1B/2B state cross country meet, leading St. George's to a third-place team finish. On the track, McLaughlin was even better. She went on to win both the 800 and 1,600 2B state titles in personal best performances of 2:20.13 and 5:13.25 and was a member of the Dragons 4x400 relay state championship team. Behind those efforts, she helped St. George's claim its second state team title in the last five seasons. An opportunity to do something great begins this sophomore season for McLaughlin as she looks to build upon her already impressive resume.
Josie Wynecoop, Davenport
After a successful eighth grade season on the track, Josie Wynecoop gets her first shot competing at the high school level in cross country this fall. The Davenport rising star was one of the fastest middle schoolers competing in the high school ranks last spring, running personal best efforts of 5:52.1 in the 1,600 and 12:29.16 in the 3,200. Wynecoop competed in three events at the state meet as she placed fifth in the 3,200, then ran with the Gorillas' 4x200 - seventh in the final - and 4x400 relay teams. While she didn't compete with the Gorillas' varsity team last fall, Wynecoop raced in two meets, coming away with two runner-up finishes where she ran 10:44 for 1.5 miles and 9:31.3 for 2,500-meters. Once the season gets going, we will get a better idea of where Wynecoop is at among this group.
Teams to watch for:
- This year's St. George's team has plenty of potential and has the key pieces to compete to win the program's first state title since the 2000 season. Having the No. 1 runner in the state in McLaughlin helps, but it's also the depth and the experience this group has with six of its seven state athletes returning in 2022. The Dragons also add eighth grader Bella Buckner, who last season was the middle school champion for district seven schools. She could potentially be in the top-10 mix this season at the state meet.
Pope John Paul II
- The two-time defending state champions continue to reload despite losing two of its top-four runners from last year's group. Both King and Hecht are expected to be out front after having strong track seasons this past spring. Moriah Steinbrecher hopes she can bounce back from a tough state meet after finishing as the sixth runner on the team despite being the Eagles No. 1 runner all year long.
- The Mountain Lions may be not a big team, but it's one that has plenty of talent to get them back on the podium stand. If Albright can have herself a strong junior campaign, there's no reason this Liberty Bell group can put itself right in the mix to compete for a state championship. However, the youth will have to step up if that will be the case this season.
- An experienced Vikings team returning this fall has what it takes to podium once again. While Garfield-Palouse does lose one senior, the team returns six state participants, including Hightree and Kennedy Cook - 2022 1B state 400 champion. Depth will also be helpful for the Vikings with 11 girls in the program this year.