SPOKANE - About a year ago, Riverside's Jamar Distel came up short of winning the freshman race at the Highlander Invite. No one knew about him and the type of runner he was except for a few schools in the Northeast 1A conference.
But this year is a whole new story. In fact, all eyes were on Distel as he was the star at the 2019 Highlander Invite this Saturday, September 14, at Shadle Park High School.
From start to finish, Distel went on to the win the 2.5 mile sophomore race running one of the best times of the day of 12:39.1 in a solo effort. His time was almost a minute faster than the second place finisher.
It wasn't just about winning the race for the young man from Riverside, but more so that he is telling many of the 1A schools he is ready to get after it this season.
"Coming in, I wanted to lead from the start so I could prove a point." said Distel.
"That's what I did. I just wanted to prove a point and show that even though I didn't run very well last year, that I am still the best here."
Distel was nervous about the beginning of the race thinking that the runners behind would hang with him the entire time. But because he started at a very quick pace from the beginning, it was going to be a challenge for those trailing him to catch him in the middle of the race or at the end.
"It was a fast start and I was worried these guys could hang with me," said Distel. "I took the lead early not knowing if I could hold it, and I looked back and I was pretty substantially far away from everybody. So I said lets just hold onto this."
Finishing in second behind Distel was Central Valley's Ethan Sheneman running a time of 13:30.2. Mead's Spencer Sandberg and Brycen Gardner were third and fourth running times of 13:30.8 and 13:35.8.
Scoring 35 points to win the sophomore team title was the Mead Panthers.
In other races, University's Jacob Easton defeated the defending 2A state cross country champion, Pullman's Eliason Kabasenche, in the senior race in another classic that came down to the wire.
Easton ran a time of 12:30.8 in his first ever appearance at the Highlander Invite to beat Kabasenche's time of 12:31.69.
"My plan was to stick with the top pack and then kick on the backside of the course where no one was really cheering," said Easton.
"I actually missed a turn over by the water tower by like 10 feet, and so (Kabasenche) got in front of me, but I ended up outkicking him."
Easton, who is a top seven 4A runner to watch for this season, said that last 300 meters on the track was very intense.
"I was just trying to hanging on, hoping to God he wasn't past me," said Easton. "Great race today as I got the win."
Tyler Hunter of Central Valley was third overall in a time of 12:36.99 and Cheney's Bas Holland was fourth running 12:46.5.
A trio of Mead runners cracked the top 10 led by Caleb Lloyd's fifth place finish running a time of 12:47.39. Elliot Williams and AJ Paulson were ninth and 10th running 12:59.6 and 13:04.6. These boys help the Panthers to a first place senior team finish scoring 36 points.
Rogers' Daniel Lee was the top performer from Washington in the junior race as he was the runner-up with a time of 13:05.97. Sandpoint's Nikolai Braedt took first overall in a time of 13:04.6.
Sandpoint would also win the team title for juniors scoring 33 points.
Finishing fourth through sixth were Mead's Josh Braun (13:23.66), Medical Lake's Quinten Collins (13:23.77), and Rogers' Isaiah Hernandez (13:24.74).
Ben Sonneland of Mount Spokane won the freshman race in a time of 13:36.7 beating Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls' Hayden Blank, who ran 13:48.3.
Sonneland ran a 5,000 meter race last week at the Timberlake Farragut Invite where he ran a personal best time of 16:54.4 and placed 22nd. This being his first ever high school win at Shadle Park, it's a good confidence booster for himself.
"When you are running, nothing really goes through your head except mentally focusing and just keep going forward," said Sonneland.
"Last week I ran a 5k and so it is different pacing running this race. You don't know if you need to go faster or slower."
Medical Lake's Reid Headrick and Walla Walla's Brody Hartley were third and fourth running 13:50.9 and 13:55.2.
Ferris was first place as a freshmen team scoring 39 points led by Isaac Bruce's (14:32.4) sixth place finish and Thomas Longhurst (14:43.3) 10th place finish.
For more results from this invite, visit: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/157253/results
For more photos from this invite, visit:https://www.facebook.com/pg/therunnerwa/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1391929104290995