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 4A runners and teams to watch for on the girl's side.
Isabela Alvarado, Eisenhower
If there is one runner who has come a long way in her training since the COVID season in spring of 2021, it's Eisenhower's Isabela Alvarado. The Cadet's top runner last fall went from running 19:52.1 for a 5k as a sophomore to running 18:07 as a junior, bringing a top 10 mark into her senior season amongst all returning runners in Washington. While she did finish 112th at the 4A state cross country meet, Alvarado was able to bounce back right away when track rolled around, producing more top state times in the 800 and 1,600 races. Running personal best times of 2:13.39 and 4:55.76, Alvarado earned two third-place finishes in the 800 and 1,600 and was a key member of the Cadets fourth place 4x400 relay team at the 4A state track meet, capping off a historic season. Other highlights included a fourth-place finish in the mile (4:58.03) at Arcadia Invite in California in early April, and then a personal best effort in the mile (4:57.08) at the Portland Track Fest to place fifth.
Anna Callahan, Skyline
First-year cross country runner Anna Callahan looked like a seasonal veteran every time she took the course last fall. Beginning the season at 19:54.7 for a 5k, Callahan knocked her time down by over two minutes, running a personal best effort of 17:30.3 and winning a district title at the same time. The following week, she took second at the 4A state meet in 17:58.6 to lead Skyline to a seventh-place team finish. During track, Callahan only raced 10 times with eight of those races combined between the 800 and 1,600. Callahan ran personal best efforts of 2:17.94 and 5:01.62 - times that would have put her on the podium had she qualified for state. As the top returning finisher from last fall's state meet, there's no question Callahan is in the state title conversation, but how will the lack of racing in the spring affect her? This list in particular had a productive track season.
Sydney Collier, Skyline
There weren't any surprises as to what Sydney Collier could do as a freshman last year, but the soon-to-be sophomore has her eyes set on a much bigger goals this coming fall. Collier was the top overall freshman at last year's state cross country meet, earning a third-place finish behind teammate Callahan in the 4A race in a 5k time of 18:06.6. In October, Collier ran her 5k personal best time of 17:31.5 - the 14th fastest freshmen time in the country that season. Collier continued the year with a great outdoor track season, running personal best efforts of 4:57.91 in the 1,600 and 10:28.03 in the 3,200. At the 4A state meet, she was third in the 3,200 and ninth in the 1,600. To finish out her freshman year, Collier went down to Hayward Field for two races: a 5,000 at Nike Outdoor Nationals and a 3,000 at the U.S. U20s Championships. In the 5,000, she ran a U.S. No. 1 freshmen time of 17:37.78 to finish in ninth place. In the 3,000, she took fifth overall in 10:13.33. Big things are ahead this year for the youngster from Sammamish.
Jane Roos, Eastlake
While Emily Van Valkenburg played a key role in her late season return to help Eastlake win a state cross country team title last fall, it was Jane Roos who stepped it up in the end for the Wolves. As a freshman, Roos knocked her 5k time down from 21:12.2 in her first race of the year to a personal best 18:52.9 at the district championships, eventually leading up to an eighth-place finish at the 4A state meet the following week to lead Eastlake to a state title. Then the outdoor track season rolled in, and Roos was just as impressive during that time. She clocked in personal best efforts of 5:00.82 in the 1,600 and 10:44.39 in the 3,200, and qualified for the 4A state meet in both events where she placed 12th in the 1,600 and ninth in the 3,200.
Sara Sanders, Tahoma
When it comes to races that matter most, Sara Sanders is always in that mix, making her a force to be reckoned with. As a junior last fall, Sanders placed seventh at the 4A state meet in a time of 18:53.9, leading the Bears to a second consecutive third-place team finish at the state meet. She also ran a 5k personal best time of 18:28 earlier in the year. During track, Sanders continued to impress in the 1,600 and 3,200 races, running personal best times of 4:58.10 and 10:51.51.45. Her sub-five 1,600 effort was a fifth-place finish at the state track meet and was followed by and 11th place run two days later in the 3,200. Athletes like Sanders are ones you want to have around your program for continued success. They are tough, driven, and hungry for more. I even remember hearing her at the end of the state track meet say, "Just wait for the fall."
Eliza White, Curtis
For Curtis' Eliza White, it was a tale of two seasons. The fall outcomes were where what most people thought she would be at, but the spring outcomes is where she went above and beyond. Starting with cross country, White set a 5k personal best time of 18:34.1 at the Pacific Northwest Regional XC Showcase just two weeks after placing 12th overall in her first 4A state meet appearance. Come track season, White really began to show the state what she was truly made of. She went from running 5:22.59 and 11:19.63 in the 1,600 and 3,200 races as a freshman, to running 4:48.74 and 10:29.66 as a sophomore, ranking her as one of the top runners not just in Washington, but in the Pacific Northwest that spring. She would go onto win her first state championship in a thrilling 3,200 race at the 4A state meet, beating out Bellarmine's Ella Borsheim in personal best efforts, and also earned a second-place finish in another exciting race in the 1,600. There'll be a lot of hype surrounding this young athlete as White looks to make more history this fall for the Vikings.
Katherine Yahn, Issaquah
Following in the footsteps of athletes like Julia David-Smith and Sami Corman, the next great Issaquah runner is right here with Katherine Yahn. The soon-to-be senior ran in her first full-length cross country this past fall and became one of the top runners in the state, running a 5k personal best time of 18:20.8 and led the Eagles to a fifth-place team finish at the 4A state meet behind a sixth-place individual effort. During track, Yahn ran both her personal best efforts in the 1,600 and 3,200 races when it mattered most at the 4A state meet as she clocked 5:01.07 to place eighth in the 1,600 and 10:43.27 to place fifth in the 3,200. Yahn will be one of those runners you really need to keep an eye out for as a spoiler come the state meet.
Team to watch for:
- Saving the best for last? That's exactly what the Wolves did last season. While Tahoma and Lewis and Clark came into the 4A state meet as favorites, Eastlake pulled the spoiler card placing four girls on the podium. Of those four podium finishers, three return this fall in sophomores Jane and Sally Roos and Fiona Wolf, putting the Wolves in another good spot to repeat as state champions this season. Perhaps another dynasty in the making? We shall see.
- Eastlake's squad may have the talented youth, but it's Tahoma's team with the veteran experience. Five of the returning varsity runners from last year's third place state team will all be seniors this season, led by Sara Sanders as the only podium placer of the group. The other seniors to watch for are Kate Sanders and Julia Stuard, who both competed at the 4A state meet track and contributed to Tahoma's third place team finish. The Bears will look to win its first legitimate state title since the 2011 behind a strong core of returners.
- Callahan and Collier already make up the best duo in the state, so who's going to help fill the void the Spartans need to compete for a team trophy? In comes Rebecca O'Keefe - an up-and-coming runner who made quite the turnaround in track after struggling during the cross-country season. Posting times of 4:55.52 and 10:41.29, O'Keefe will be added into the mix for what should be the best trio ever in Skyline history. Perhaps they'll help lead the program to its first state title in 21 years.
- Since taking over as head coach two years ago, Liza Rickey has an incoming podium squad ready this season after missing one spot short in 2021. Along with Yahn, sophomore Liv Jensen and junior Mary Jane Harig help make up a strong Eagles trio. They will need some support though at runners four and five if Issaquah is looking to get back on the podium for the first time since 2017 when they finished third.