The 3A level on the girls' side has been dominated by the North Central Indians and will be expected to again this upcoming season. When you look across the board, all seven ladies on the North Central team could make our list. However, there are a few individuals who have made the cut who were not part of the two-time state champions. Here are the top seven 3A girls to watch for this season.
Allie Janke - North Central
Allie Janke is atop the running world in the state of Washington after what was another successful year of running in her sophomore campaign. Janke won the 3A girls cross title in a time of 17:59.1, leading the Indians to their second consecutive state team title. Ran a personal best time though at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite in a time of 17:36.8. In the spring, Janke also won the 1,600 and 3,200 state titles and completed the distance triple crown running personal best times of 4:43.6 and 10:10.83. This young athlete continues to surprise me every time she runs a race as it seems she always runs another personal best. My pick to win this years individual title, again, but can she break the 17 minute barrier?
Erinn Hill - North Central
Erinn Hill is among multiple seniors on this year's Indians team but is the best of them all. Last fall, Hill was third at the state cross meet where she ran 18:34.1. Her personal best time came earlier at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite where she ran 17:43.2. Hill was also successful in her track season as a junior qualifying for the state meet in the 1,600 and 3,200. She placed fourth in the 1,600 running 5:01.4 and was the runner-up in the 3,200 running 10:42.73. Hill will be battling with her own teammate this cross season for the individual crown, but looking at the big picture, I think the No. 1 goal is to win another state team title.
Meri Dunford - Prairie
What a turn of events last track season for Meri Dunford at the state meet as she put together two of the best performances anyone had watched. Dunford was the runner-up in the 1,600 and third in the 3,200 where she ran personal best times of 4:54.99 and 10:52.21. If you were to look at the beginning and middle of the season, you wouldn't have guessed she could come even close to touching those times. Last fall, she was 16th at the state cross meet running 19:10.2, but a personal best time was at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite where she ran 18:29.3. My dark horse pick for state this year, Dunford is a top 6 finisher for sure.
Kate Jendrezak - Eastside Catholic
You rarely see a 400/800 runner have tons of success in cross country and be among the best in the state. The highly-talented Kate Jendrezak ran a personal best time of 17:56 at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite and was 18th at the statecross meet last fall. On a national level, Jendrezak threw down some unbelievable times this past track season that would put her with the country's elite athletes. Jendrezak defended her 800 state title for a third consecutive year and won her first 400 state title. She was also a member of the Crusaders 4 x 400 state championship team. Ran personal best times of 55.54 in the 400 and 2:09.71 in the 800. If there is one thing missing on Jendrezak's running resume, it's a state championship in cross country.
Sarah Mirkin - Holy Names Academy
Sarah Mirkin led the Holy Names Cougars to the 3A state track title this last spring after a great showing at the meet. Mirkin was third in the 800 running 2:14.78, fifth in the 1,600 running a personal best time of 5:03.33, and was a member of the second place 4 x 400 relay team. In the fall, Mirkin ran a season best time of 18:45.8 at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite and was 36th at the state cross meet. Hopefully with the confidence Mirkin built up in the spring, the soon to be junior can have a bounce back season and make her way up to the podium. The Cougars haven't had a podium placer in Pasco since 2016 when Jordan Oakes won her second state title.
Mia Hill - North Central
The third North Central runner to make our list, Mia Hill is a top five finisher for sure at the state cross meet. Hill was eighth last season at state running a time of 18:49, but ran a personal best time at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite running 18:09. During track, Hill only qualified in the 3,200 where she placed eighth running a season best time of 11:00.15. She also ran a season best time in the 1,600 running 5:08.38. Having made the podium every single season of high school cross country, Hill has still not cracked the top five. And she will this year, but she could also go 1-3 with her teammates Allie Janke and Erinn Hill at state.
Kate Simmons - Eastside Catholic
Kate Simmons is another Eastside Catholic runner in the mix to finish in the top 10 this cross season at state. She was 14th last year running 19:05.7, but ran a personal best time at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite in 18:27.5. Simmons finished her track season with a P.R. and podium spot in the 3,200 at the state meet as she ran 10:53.52 for sixth place. In the 1,600, she didn't qualify for state but ran a personal best time of 5:07.91, 15 seconds faster from her previous best. Look for Simmons to be a top 10, top 8 finisher this season at state.
Top 5 Teams
1. North Central
2. Eastside Catholic
3. Holy Names Academy