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."