The 1A level doesn't lose a lot of talent from this past cross country season. With seven seniors, whom finished in the top 16 at state, moving on to bigger and better things, a vast amount of young runners return for what is either their final year of high school cross country, or they are continuing to strive in their next season of running.
Here are the top seven boys to watch for this upcoming season at the 1A level.
Adam Briejer - Charles Wright Academy
The giant of all the runners in Washington, Briejer returns for his senior season as the defending 1A state champion from the fall. After a disappointing end to his track season, Briejer comes into the cross season with a big chip on his shoulder to prove once again he is the best in the state at the 1A level. Briejer's state championship win was run in 16:19.5 upsetting the No. 1 runner at the time, Meridian's Nathan Schneider. His personal best time is 16:02. In the spring, Briejer was third in the 1,600 at the 1A state meet but what was probably the most shocking result was his 11th place finish in the 800 prelims.
Isaac Cortes - Granite Falls
One of the most confident runners you'll ever watch is Granite Falls' Cortes. With a total of five wins last season and a third place finish at the 1A state cross meet, Cortes is one of my favorites to take home the state crown. He ran 16:30.9 at the state meet, but his personal best was 16:12.7 at the North Sound Cross Country Championships. His best performance though came at the District 1/2 Meet as he won in come from behind fashion. Cortes also had a great track season this past spring where he placed third in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600 at the 1A state meet.
Landon Davies - Cascade (Leavenworth)
Davies performances throughout the entire cross season last fall were a great addition to his running resume. He won a total of four races that were invites, one including a three mile victory at the Sunfair Invite in Yakima. He placed fifth overall at the 1A state cross meet running 16:33 and his team placed second overall. His personal best time of the season was 16:24,which he ran at the Okanogan Invite. During track, Davies won the 1A state crown in the 3,200 as he blew away the competition on the final lap. He also placed fifth in the 1,600. Joining Briejer and Cortes, Davies is another contender to win the state crown.
Nathan Cantrell - Port Townsend
Sometimes we all can't have our best race at the end of the year, and Port Townsend's Cantrell can understand this. The soon to be senior placed 19th overall at the 1A state cross meet in the fall, but I believe this runner is capable of being in the top 10, maybe the top 8. Cantrell's ran 16:26.5 for a new personal best at the Bill Kehoe South Sound Invite. Best win of the season came at the Nike Twilight Invite as he outkicked Steilacoom's Zach Koivisto at the finish. Cantrell was the runner-up in the 3,200 at the 1A state track meet and missed out making the podium by one spot in the 1,600 as he was ninth. Look out for a bounce back year.
Nick LeBar - King's
Our youngest runner to crack the top seven, King's own LeBar made a lot of noise this past track season to earn himself a spot on our list. He ran personal best times of 4:26.98 in the 1,600 and 9:59.01 in the 3,200 as a freshman. He also placed seventh overall at the 1A state track meet in the 1,600 and 10th in the 3,200. During cross country, LeBar ran a personal best time of 16:34.5 at the North Sound Championships. He qualified for the 1A state meet and placed 20th overall running 17:01.6.
Rob McManus - Cashmere
Very few people were able to run a personal best mark at the state cross country meet last fall because of the course being so hilly, but McManus ran the race of his life at the 1A level. Placing sixth overall at the state meet, McManus ran 16:44.2 dropping nine seconds from his previous best mark. In the spring, McManus shocked the 1A state meet with an upset victory over Charles Wright's Briejer in the 1,600 as won in come back fashion with a personal best time of 4:24.19. Had an incredible track season staying undefeated in the 1,600 and won only six of nine 800 races he ran in.
Michael Cepowski - South Whidbey
Cepowski finished up a great junior campaign with a 10th place finish at the 1A state cross meet running a time of 16:45.5. His best performance of the year was at the North Sound Championships as he ran a personal best time of 16:24.9. He didn't qualify for any event during the track season, but if the steeplechase was a certified WIAA event, he would be heading to Cheney for it and probably win the state title too.
Top 5 Teams
1. Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls)
2. South Whidbey
3. Cascade (Leavenworth)
4. Medical Lake