Updated: Jun 22, 2020
PASCO - It seemed as though last year was a dominating performance for the North Central girls cross country team as they posted a state record low of 22 points en route to their 3A state championship win.
But why not go above and beyond and try to break the record once again?
All seven North Central runners wrote the number "-21" on their calves for inspiration to potentially score a lower amount is this year's state championship meet. And you better believed it worked.
With five girls grabbing podium spots, the Indians scored 20 points to defend their title for a third year in a row on Saturday, November 9, at the Sun Willows Golf Course.
Head coach Dempsey Ortega couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to coach for because of the hard work they not only put in for themselves, but for their teammates as well, which leads them to breaking the state scoring record again.
"This group is so tight that there is no jealousy and no envy," said Ortega on his team.
"If one girl has a great race, they are genuinely happy that their teammate did better on that given race. I compare them to Spartans because they are competitive, low maintenance, and they go out and do everything a coach could ask for because they never question it."
In only her second race of the season, Allie Janke took first overall to defend her title from last season running a time of 17:26.8. Janke's first meet came at the district meet to qualify for state, which she won in a time of 17:42.
It wasn't a secret to anyone that Janke was out of running for two months. This offseason she had surgery in which she wasn't able to recover from that kept her running level to a minimum.
"Everyone in the (Greater Spokane League) knew I was out," said Janke.
"I would go to GSL meets and cheer on the girls and I would have at least 10 people come up to me an ask, 'how are you doing?, how's the rehab going?, how are you doing mentally?,'. It was constantly people checking in with me. There weren't any secrets. Everyone knew I was out, but I would be back and stronger than ever."
From cross training at the YMCA, to having the support from Janke's family and teammates, winning a race like this wouldn't have been possible without it.
It wouldn't be an easy task either to repeat as champion knowing Janke had to run against her teammate Erinn Hill, the 2017 3A champion, and Kennewick's Gerladin Correa, who placed fifth in 18:09.3, because they we're so far ahead in their training.
"Knowing that they we're at a huge advantage to me was really tough to mentally be bold enough to race them," said Janke.
"But having all the support and love I have gotten from my family and teammates made today a lot easier. Their support an encouragement reaffirmed me mentally that's where I belong and that my goal should be to win state."
Janke and E. Hill came through mile one working together at 5:32.5, with Kennewick's Correa in third running 5:32.9. Then mile two rolled around with Janke coming through in 11:18.4, E. Hill trailing in 11:19, and Correa not far behind running 11:23.6.
In the end, Janke had a 15 second advantage over second place and was crowned champion again. Compared to last season's state title, this win was a little bit more special.
"I put myself through all the training I didn't always like doing," said Janke. "But through it all, I kept telling myself 'I need to comeback for state', 'I need to be there for NXR'. Waiting for it and anticipating it so much, makes this moment sweeter."
Ortega is happy to have Janke back and with how disciplined she had been with her rehab training.
"She's been very good about her rehab and sticking to what she had to do get healthy," said Ortega. "She came in the right time to help us win a state championship."
As North Central prepares for the Nike Cross Regional meet in Boise, Idaho this coming Saturday, Ortega believes they are ready to take the next step.
"The whole group's goal for the last four year's is to make it to Nike Cross Nationals," said Ortega. "So, with Allie back, we're ready to go and get after it in Boise. This entire group is one cohesive unit."
North Central's other podium finishers were Erinn Hill and Amelu Ruff, who placed second and third running times of 17:41.7 and 17:50.8, while Marie Taylor and Mia Hill were sixth and ninth running 18:11.9 and 18:24.9.
Kendall Carter made her first state appearance in high school finishing as North Central's sixth runner placing 74th in a time of 20:09.1.
North Central will face against numerous nationally ranked teams in Jesuit and Lincoln from the state of Oregon in Boise at Nike Cross Regionals.
As for other schools, Holy Names took second as a team with 84 points led by Sarah Mirkin, who finished 16th in a time of 18:51.9.
Bishop Blanchet was third scoring 159 and their top runner was Olivia Freeman (13th, 18:38.5), and Central Kitsap was fourth scoring 174 points and their top runner was Maya Nichols (11th, 18:35).
From an individual perspective, Eastside Catholic's Kate Simmons finishes in fourth running a time of 18:00.6 and Bellevue's Kate Forsberg was seventh in a time of 18:13.3.
Also on the podium were Edmonds-Woodway's Ellie Gard (8th, 18:23), Prairie's Meri Dunford (10th, 18:33.8), Snohomish's Ellie Baxter (12th, 18:36.8), Seattle Prep's Lily O'Donoghue-McDonald (14th, 18:45.8), and Marysville's Getchell's Jasmine Nguyen (15th, 18:49.7).
For more results from the 2019 3A Girls Cross Country State Championship, visit: http://wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=1147