2022 XC Preview: 2A Girls
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 2A runners and teams to watch for on the girl's side.
Sydnee Boothby, Washougal
While it wasn't a year of personal best efforts for Sydnee Boothby in the fall, the production was through the roof with a busy season of racing. Boothby completed her junior campaign racing in 12 meets, running a 5k season best of 18:46.7, and placed ninth overall at the 2A state meet to best her 26th place finish from her freshman season. In the spring, Boothby was just as busy on the track in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 races, but was able to run new personal best efforts in each of the three. Two of them came at the state meet in the 800 and 3,200 where she ran 2:19.51 to place fifth in the 800 and 11:38.29 to place ninth in the 3,200. She placed 11th in the 1,600 but ran her personal best two weeks prior at district, running 5:08.66. One of the few athletes in the state who can just do it all in any distance race is primed for her breakthrough year.
Abby Crossley, East Valley (Spokane)
Over the last year and a half, Abby Crossley has been one of the most improving runners in Washington since joining the sport back in the spring of 2021. Crossley went from running a 5k time of 22:20 her sophomore cross country season to running 19:33.5 her junior season and earned an 11th-place finish at the 2A state meet. The upward trajectory continued on in the spring during track when she ran 5:32.86 for the 1,600 and 11:32.59 in the 3,200. With the focus mainly on the 3,200, Crossley qualified for the state meet in the event and earned a sixth-place finish and came within hundredths of her personal best effort. While her junior season for East Valley was a success, it was the summer season where Crossley took an even bigger step in her racing while running with Valley Flash Club. She earned three all-American finishes at the USATF National Junior Olympics behind three personal best efforts in the 1,500 (5:01.02, 8th), the 3,000 (10:41.21, 3rd), and the 2,000 steeplechase (7:38.41, 2nd). This is someone who will continue show improvements this fall once again and could find her way up into the top three if she continue to run well.
Jessica Frydenlund, Anacortes
Some would think Jessica Frydenlund has already proven herself as an elite runner in Washington, but the Anacortes senior feels her potential hasn't even been met yet. The defending 2A state champion in cross country had a year to remember in the fall of 2021 as she won 10 of her 13 races, ran a 5k personal best time of 17:39.3, and led her Seahawks squad to a second-place team finish at the state meet - the highest team finish ever in school history. As for the track season, Frydenlund managed to run more personal best efforts in the 1,600 and 3,200 races, running 4:59 and 10:52.25. While she didn't win any state championships in the spring, she finished fifth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 3,200 to cap off a historic junior season. Winning another state individual title is in the cards again for Frydenlund this upcoming season, but to lead Anacortes to its first legitimate cross-country state title (won virtual state meet in COVID season) in program history would be her biggest accomplishment yet.
Logan Hofstee, East Valley (Spokane)
It's hard to believe an athlete would go from being a sprinter with only four races under their belt in their running career to a state runner-up in their first-ever season of cross country just months later. That's the type of work ethic Logan Hofstee brings to the table and it's one that is hard to match. The East Valley rising star proved her worth in the fall her sophomore season as she ran a 5k personal best effort of 18:08.8 to go along with her state runner-up finish behind Anacortes' Frydenlund. In the track season, Hofstee made the switch from sprints to distance races where she saw more success in the 1,600 and 3,200 races. She went onto earn two third-place finishes in those races at the 2A state meet all while running personal best efforts of 5:00.49 and 10:49.78. Last season was no fluke for Hofstee and the potential do even greater things in 2022 are there for her taking.
Katie Mingus, Foss
Towards the start of the cross country season, Katie Mingus wasn't even on the radar, but week-by-week the freshman continued to improve her times and was able to show the state what she truly was capable of at the end of the year. Mingus was the only freshman girl in the field to reach the podium at the 2A state meet, finishing in 12th place in a 5k personal best time of 19:36 after starting the year running 22:21. Come track season, Mingus had a similar start to the year where it wasn't as fast but finished strong at the end as she qualified for two events at the state meet. She would run personal best efforts of 5:13.83 and 11:34.75 in the 1,600 and 3,200 races and place eighth in the 1,600 and seventh in the 3,200. For a school not known for its distance running, Mingus might be the athlete who helps change the narrative for the future of the Falcons' program in the years to come.
Kaia Szymczak, Sehome
It was only a matter of time before Kaia Szymczak would have her breakthrough in cross country, and her moment came at the right time when it mattered most. The Sehome senior ran the race of her life at the 2A state meet, running a 5k personal best time of 19:12.5 to finish seventh overall and led the Mariners to the program's 11th state championship and first since the 2017 season. No records show a track season was completed by Szymczak this past spring, so she will have some fresh legs heading into the fall season after almost a year of preparation to help lead Sehome to another state title.
Elle Thomas, Washougal
The excitement was there for Elle Thomas going into her sophomore season after a successful freshman campaign, but it was a year of ups and downs for the Washougal star. Thomas set a 5k season best time of 18:25.5 and was less than six seconds off her personal best effort of 18:19.9 from earlier in the year during the spring season. She went onto place sixth overall at the 2A state cross country meet, leading the Panthers to a third-place team finish - the highest finish by a Washougal team since winning the state championship back in 1986. The spring saw more positives results on the track as Thomas set a personal best time of 5:06.71 in the 1,600 and a season best 11:21.75 in the 3,200. She made it to state in both events where she placed seventh in the 1,600 and fifth in the 3,200, finishing off what was really a solid sophomore season as a whole. The expectations will be greater for Thomas in her junior season as she hopes to put herself in the conversation for a state championship, while also leading Washougal back to another state trophy.
Teams to watch for:
- The Mariners were the Cinderella darlings last season after pulling off a big upset over Northwest Conference foe Anacortes. This season, they'll will be ones everyone chases on its quest to repeat as state champions. Six of the seven state championship participants return this fall led by seniors Szymczak, Julie Gill, and Evelyn Buetow. Those three finished among the top 20 in the state field and will be in the podium consideration this season. Aside from those three, this will be a young Mariners team for head coach Kevin Ryan full of returning sophomore and juniors.
- On paper, Anacortes was the best team in the fall, but the Seahawks weren't able to get the job done when it mattered most, leaving a sour taste in its mouth when they left Pasco. This season, with the return of the individual state champion Frydenlund, and juniors Casey Lemrick and Carolyn Chambers, the Seahawks have a very good trio leading the way into 2022 and make a great case to bounce back this fall to win the school's first legitimate state championship in cross country. They will need some help though at the fourth and fifth runners, and athletes like senior Abigail Goodwin and sophomore Dylan Willingham will need to step up this season to ensure a chance at winning the whole thing.
- The Panthers found its way back on the podium for the first time in 35 years after placing third last season. They'll look to build on that momentum in 2022 led by the duo of Thomas and Boothby and the four other returning athletes from the state team. While some of them will have only raced one time at the state meet, there will be a large number of seniors and juniors back, making the Panthers one of the oldest teams in the entire state for 2A.
- It'll be a bounce back year for the Bayhawks after failing to qualify for the state meet last fall. The Bayhawks return all seven of its varsity runners, including the lone state participants Gillian Spilker and Grace Friesen, and will be a program full of veteran talent with nine of the top 10 back in 2022.