Sophomore Phenoms Competitive Rivalry Takes Them to Greater Heights

Updated: Sep 28

Sehome's Munson and Blanchet's Schneider are among the nation's best sophomore runners.

Zack Munson (L) and Will Schneider (R) running at the Yakima XC Meet of Champions. (Keenan Gray/The Runner WA)

High school sports have always been a way for young student-athletes to connect and create life-long friendships.

But it's not just students within the same school. It's also with other students from around the local county schools.

Or, in this case, the entire state.

Sehome's Zack Munson and Bishop Blanchet's William Schneider first met each other when racing down at the Portland Youth Track Festival as seventh graders.

Schneider was beginning his running career but looked up to Munson as a whole other level of competition.

“I always knew Zack as the really fast kid from up north,” said Schneider. “I would remember we would go to these races, and I’d see him and be like, ‘oh no, Zack’s here, it’s going to be a fast race.’"

Munson may have been the fast kid from up north, but Schneider was definitely the fast from down south.

Both boys were successful in their own ways in middle school as they dominated the competition in their local areas, and each won Junior Olympic titles in their respective events.

The winning and running fast times didn't stop there.

Schneider and Munson entered high school on the right foot with impressive first-year cross country performances.

Schneider placed seventh at the 3A state cross country meet and was a member of Blanchet's second-place team finish.

“We had a really good cross-country team my freshman season,” said Schneider. “It was also fun because it was my first season of high school running, and I had the opportunity to go out there and run to show what I could do.”

While Munson placed 20th in the 2A meet but was a key contributor to Sehome's eighth consecutive team title.

“It wasn’t a perfect freshman year," said Munson. "I wanted more out of it, but I think I did what was necessary to set myself up for success.”

Despite the track season being out of the normal circumstances, both runners would get chances to compete in virtual meets or even traveled out of state.

Munson went down to the Desert Dream Last Hurrah in Arizona to run in the 3,200 race and was the second-fastest freshman in the field running 9:23. Schneider stayed back home and ran with his teammates in Blanchet's virtual races, where he ran 2:01 in the 800, 4:23 in the 1,600, and 9:31 in the 3,200.

This season hasn't been perfect either due to the condensed cross country and track and field seasons.

Munson, Schneider, and over 30 more athletes toed the line for one of the most historic races Washington has ever w