With the track and field season being cancelled this spring due to the Coronavirus pandemic, cross country has stepped in and has become the season we are eager for.
And because we are all so eager to get back out and race one another, what better way to get everyone excited for this coming fall than to look at our 2020 Way Too Early Cross Country Power Rankings.
- The Bears went above and beyond expectations as a very young team last fall and earned themselves a third place finish in a fast 4A state championship field. Theresa Barnhart, who was one spot away from podium at state, and Faith Martinez lead a group of Bears that return all state participants into the 2020 campaign with hopes of bringing a state team title back to Maple Valley for the first time since 2011.
- Halle Jenkins will be a big piece missing for Camas this fall, but the Papermakers top four returners provide enough depth for the team to put themselves in contention to win a 4A state title. Like a lot of the teams on this list, youth will play a crucial role for Camas. Katelyn Flolo takes on a new leadership role and Gracie Buzzell will build upward from her great freshman season to help the Papermakers be successful.
- Emily Van Valkenburg's impressive sophomore season showed positive signs for Eastlake in what could be an exciting season for the Wolves. However, Eastlakes hopeful success won't be relied on Van Valkenburg. In fact, Ava Hagwell will need to take big step in her role as the No. 2 runner and get her time under 19 minutes, and perhaps even faster.
4. Holy Names
- Like the 2019 North Central girls, the 2020 Holy Names girls might be on an island of their own this fall at the 3A level. With Sarah Mirkin, Christina Crow and Riley Wells returning, the Cougars have the potential to have three podium placers, which of course is a key for success to a team winning a state title. Maisie McManus and Kathleen Raab will also help carry this team in the right direction as the fourth and fifth runners.
- Redmond, by a long shot, has the best trio of runners for all classifications. The key figures to the Mustangs state championship team were Lili Hargreaves, Sophia Dahl (The Runner WA's Freshman of the Year last fall), and Chloe Connelly. All three girls have the potential to place top 10 or better individually at 4A state this fall. But can they repeat as team champions? If they really want to, there needs to be work done at the No. 5 runner spot.
- In a very strong field of 4A teams, Richland is on the outside looking in, but could be a potential dark horse. Natalie Ruzauskas proved at the state meet she is one of the best individuals in the entire state with a second place finish, and she could lead the Bombers to a top four team finish this fall. There will be a ton of leadership and experience on the team with four of the returning state participants being seniors.
7. Bellarmine Prep
- Ella Borsheim, the second fastest returning runner in the state, and a junior dominated Bellarmine team look for a bounce back season after a tough ending at the 4A state meet. With Borsheim coming into the state meet as the returning individual champion, it was a bit of shock to see her place 16th in her sophomore year. Josephine Stevenson ended her freshman year at state on a high note with a personal best time, which will provide confidence for herself and excitement for the Lions.
8. Central Valley
- Central Valley may have only had one state participant last season in Sarah Pecha, but the Bears could be one of the best teams in the Greater Spokane League this fall. The Bears got great additions to the team last season with Kylee Shakespeare and Nicole Bissel coming out for their first year. Both girls had quality times and can be a tremendous help for the Bears to get back to state this fall.
- In a challenging district like the KingCo 4A, it will be a tough task for Bothell to get past Redmond and Eastlake. Monserrat Lopez and Ainsley Herron will be key runners for the Cougars success this fall and will need to be at their best when postseason rolls around if they want to help their team get to state.
10. Lewis & Clark
- Bridget Burns becomes the new face of top notched runners at Lewis & Clark after a fantastic freshman season. Along with Burns, Audrey Thronson, sister of former Lewis & Clark standout Katie Thronson, is another runner for the Tigers heading in the right trajectory. With these two runners on the rise, the Tigers may be a young team, but they can, and will compete with Central Valley for a chance at another state team birth.
- In a year where Issaquah didn't make their usual appearance at the 4A state meet as a team, the Eagles produced the best runner in the state and came away with an individual champion in Julia David-Smith. Even with David-Smith, this year's Eagles team, which will include multiple underclassmen, still have to face three schools on this list from the KingCo at districts if they want to get back to Pasco.
- Kamiakin makes the moves up to 4A this fall, turning District 8, featuring the Greater Spokane League and Mid-Columbia Conference, into one of the toughest in the state. Two solid performances at the 3A state meet last fall from Deverie Gutierrez and Marissa Memmott, and another at the district meet by Hannah Paulsen, gives the Braves a good trio up front.
13. Lake Stevens
- Lake Stevens may not be a top four team at 4A state, but they are the best team coming out of District 1. Led by Ashley Reeck and Emma Owens, the Vikings look to continue their schools tradition of constantly getting a team to the state meet and have an individual or two place on podium.
14. Central Kitsap
- The No. 3-7 runners from Central Kitsap brought their "A" game to the 3A state meet when they needed it most and helped the Cougars bring home a fourth place team trophy. Maya Nichols has a great chance to be the runner-up behind North Central's Allie Janke at state, and lead Central Kitsap to another team trophy. The Cougars could surprise some people and take down Holy Names to win the schools first cross country team title.
- It's been three years since the Sehome girls brought home the golden runner for 2A schools, so why not start the new decade the same way they did back in 2010? Evelyn Buetow is a tough runner and shares similar characteristics to Sehome legend and three-time 2A cross country individual champion Emily Pittis. Along with Buetow, Julie Gill is another young talent, making these two one of the best 2A duos in the state.
16. Bishop Blanchet
- A surprising third place team finish for Bishop Blanchet at the 3A state meet last fall sets big expectations in 2020 for the Braves. The only team in the entire state with every varsity returner being seniors, the Braves will be the oldest and most experienced around. Olivia Freeman is a dark horse runner among 3A runners and has the potential to be a top eight finisher individually.