2022 XC Preview: 3A 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 3A runners and teams to watch for on the girl's side.

 

Tali Braester, Lincoln (Seattle)

LIncoln's Tali Braester running in the girls 3,200m final at the 3A state track meet on May 28, 2022, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

The 2021-22 school year was full ups and downs for Tali Braester in their sophomore season. In the fall, they ran a lifetime 5k best time of 18:03.6, ranking them top 15 in the entire state, but finished in a disappointing 25th place at the 3A state meet after a freshman season where they placed third in the virtual state meet. Come track season, Braester was able to show off a bounce back effort, running personal best times of 5:10.36 in the 1,600 and 10:52.69 in the 3,200. It was the 3,200 where we saw the most consistent running from them as they went under 11 minutes each time they competed in the event and qualified for the state meet to finish ninth overall. Braester capped of their sophomore season with an eighth-place finish at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in the 5,000, running a new personal best time of 17:29.15. That race should be a big momentum swing for Braester heading to the fall as it builds their confidence for an upcoming junior year.


Sabrina Colbert, Franklin

Franlkin's Sabrina Colbert (green) racing down the hill at the 3A state cross country meet on Nov. 6, 2021, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

The beginning of the cross country season was always a good indication of where athletes were at. For Sabrina Colbert, she looked like a much-improved runner just after one race into her sophomore season. The Quakers top runner went from running a 5k time of 20:51.7 her freshman season to running 18:38.1 as a sophomore, all while finishing her first full-length cross country season with a 12th place at the 3A state meet. During track, Colbert continued to show improvements in the 1,600 and 3,200 races, clocking new personal best times of 5:12.63 and 11:05.50. She missed out on qualifying for the state meet in the 3,200 by one spot but would have placed 10th overall based on time. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg of what Colbert can do, so junior year might have more in store.


Julia Couch, Auburn Riverside

Auburn Riverside's Julia Couch won the 3A girls 800m state championship as a freshman last spring on May 28, 2022, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

It was a freshman year to remember for Julia Couch, and it all began in the cross country season where she ran a 5k personal best time of 18:49.7 and earned herself a fifth-place finish at the 3A state meet. While she found success then, it was the track season where Couch raced at a top-tier level, more specifically in the 800. She went onto win the 3A state title in a personal best effort of 2:13.81, becoming the first freshman in 3A to win the event since Eastside Catholic's Kate Jendrezak did so in 2017. She also placed third in the 1,600 in a personal best time of 4:59.57. Couch is a very talented all-around runner, and her progress for the next three years is only going to get better from here on out.


Paige Gerrard, Snohomish

Snohomish's Paige Gerrard running in the girls 1,600m final at the 3A state track meet on May 26, 2022, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

There's always a runner out there who does enough to be in the top-tier conversation but doesn't get the acknowledgment they deserve. Snohomish's Paige Gerrard is that runner, and her recent accomplishments in cross country and track are worth mentioning. As a sophomore in the fall, Gerrard ranked top-10 in the state for 3A runners with a personal best 5k time of 18:20.1 and was able to finish above her state ranking at the state meet with a sixth-place finish - the highest placing for a Panther since Ellie Baxter's 12th-place run in 2019. In track, Gerrard put together an undefeated regular season racing record in the 3,200, earning a berth to the state meet where she would finish 14th overall in a new personal best effort of 11:18.77. She also set a season best time in 1,600, running 5:14.29, then qualified for state where she placed 18th. Cross country has proven to be Gerrard's best sport, and another top-five finish at the state meet this season would make it another successful year.


Elektra Higgins, Peninsula

Peninsula's Elektra Higgisn running on the final lap of the girls 3,200m final at the 3A state track meet on May 28, 2022, at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

When you talk about momentum, there's no other runner on this list that brings more of it into the fall than Elektra Higgins. The Peninsula rising star had a historic year in her first season of high school track by setting new school records in the 1,600 and 3,200 races as she posted times of 4:59.99 and 10:44.55. All while running those times, Higgins managed to finish fifth in the 1,600 and fourth in the 3,200 at the 3A state meet. In the fall, Higgins was just as good on the cross country course as she ran a 5k personal best time of 18:38.9 and finished seventh overall at the state meet, joining her teammate Hannah Lee on the podium as one of four 3A teams to have multiple state placers in the race. What does year two have in store for Higgins? Hopefully some more record-breaking performances and an opportunity to compete for a state title.


Lily LaPorte, Bishop Blanchet

Bishop Blanchet's Lily LaPorte took third at the 3A state cross country meet on Nov. 6, 2021, at Sun Williows Golf Course in Pasco. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

Just one year into her high school career, Lily LaPorte has set the quite standard for herself in the years to come. LaPorte was one of Washington's top freshmen this past school year as she put together remarkable cross country and track campaigns. In the fall, she went onto run a 5k personal best effort of 17:27.7, placed third overall at the 3A state meet, then finished the fall off with an 11th place run at NXR Northwest. During track, she dipped below the five-minute barrier in the 1,600 to run 4:57.71 to win her first state championship, and then ran 10:31.76 to place second at the state meet. There's more to be added to LaPorte's already impressive resume in year two, and a state cross country title is next on that list.


Hannah Lee, Peninsula

Peninsula's Hannah Lee races past Snohomish's Paige Gerrard at the 3A state cross country meet on Nov. 6, 2021, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

Safe to say Hannah Lee made the right decision to switch from playing soccer to running cross country her junior season. The Peninsula senior had quite the first outing for the Seahawks in the fall, putting together a 5k school record time of 18:17.3 and finished fourth overall at the 3A state meet. Lee was also great on the track in her second season as she produced some fast times in the three distance races, running 2:16.81, 5:01.02, and 10:52.25. She went onto race at the state meet and earned two state podium finishes: eighth in the 800 and seventh in the 1,600. Lee concluded her junior campaign with two 15th place finishes at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in the emerging elite mile and two-mile races, and then the following week won the 1,500 at the USATF Pacific Northwest Association Junior Olympic Championships. Don't count this runner out from competing for a state title when November rolls around.

 

Teams to watch for:

Bishop Blanchet

- On paper, the Bears were the best overall team in 3A last fall, but a lack of veteran experience held them back from accomplishing the goal of winning a state championship. That being said, a year of state racing under its belts will definitely play in Blanchet's favor. Along with LaPorte, the Bears return another pair of sophomores in Zoe Louis and Luma Voss, who both showed promising strides in their first seasons, and senior Brynn Chester, who appears to be having a great summer of training.


Gig Harbor

- It had been over a decade since the Gig Harbor ladies last brought home a team trophy. With the talented trio of seniors Reese Morkert and Kaley Fergus, and sophomore Taylor Sletner back from its third-place team, not only are the Tides a trophy team once again, but it's also a state championship caliber team. Belle Johnson and Malia Fraser are going to be missed, but it's runners like junior Danica Olsen and sophomore Frankie Meacham who can fill those voids to help the Tides bring home its first state title in 15 years.


Holy Names

- Been a few years since Holy Names has seen the podium. The Cougars will rely on veteran talent this coming season as it returns four seniors from its sixth-place state team, including Maisie McManus: a sub-five-minute 1,600 runner who was fourth at the state track meet. Alongside McManus, you'll see sophomore Sophia Bazzi up in the top mix for HNA. She too had a good spring in the 1,600 and 3,200, and more likely will be the Cougars second runner.


Peninsula

- With arguably the best duo in 3A in Lee and Higgins, the Seahawks now become a legit podium team and could bring home the school's first-ever trophy in cross country. Joining those two will be four more returning state participants from Peninsula's 10th place team, who all didn't necessarily have great races in Pasco, but managed to bounce back in productive fashion to each have a good track season full of personal best efforts.

842 views0 comments