Last spring, the 1A's put together another great year at the state track meet with exciting races that went down to the wire, and the runners that were part of those races are all back this season. Many of these runners are familiar faces, but here are the top 1A boys distance runners to watch for this spring.
Adam Briejer, Charles Wright
Adam Briejer continued his cross country success this last fall by winning his second consecutive individual state title at the 1A state meet running a time of 15:50.6, and also ran a personal best time of 15:31.6 earlier in the season. With the track season approaching, Briejer is looking for a bounce back year after having fallen short of a 800 and 1,600 meter title at the 1A state meet. Placed third though in the 1,600 meter running a time of 4:28.73, which is three seconds off his personal best of 4:25.48, and 11th in the 800 meter preliminaries in 2:05.27. His best 800 meter time was ran the previous week at districts in 2:00.7. Also ran the 3,200 meter during the season in a personal best time of 9:49.69. Winning a second cross country title should give Briejer a confidence booster going into track and should remind himself he is capable of running at his best when a state title is on the line. He's a contender to win both the 800 and 1,600 meter state races.
Nathan Cantrell, Port Townsend
Nathan Cantrell was just one of those runners that came out of nowhere and made vast improvement from his sophomore season to his junior season just based off times. As a sophomore, Cantrell was 17th in the 3,200 meter at the 1A state track meet but last spring finished up as the runner-up to Cascade's Landon Davies in a time of 9:50.84, only a second off his personal best of 9:49.43. Cantrell also made it in the 1,600 meter where he placed ninth in a time of 4:35.35, and only two seconds off his personal best of 4:33.15. Placed seventh this past fall at the 1A state cross country meet in a time of 16:20.7. Ran a personal best at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite running 16:11.4. If Cantrell wants to have a chance to win this year's 3,200 meter state title, he will need to develop a quicker kick. For the 3,200 meter race you wouldn't think that be the case, but last year's state race went down to who had more speed.
David Carrion, Seton Catholic
Sometimes the best runners are those you don't know anything about, and David Carrion is one of those runners. Although his numbers don't show it, I think Carrion is ready for a breakout year and improve upon his state track meet performances from last season. Placed 12th in the 1,600 meter in 4:36.92, a second off his personal best of 4:35.8, and eighth in the 3,200 meter in a personal best time of 10:01.87. In the fall, Carrion was ninth at the 1A state cross country meet in a time of 16:21.7. Ran a personal best time of 15:59.6 in a 1A TRICO League meet. If Carrion hits 4:32 in the 1,600 meter and sub 10 minutes in the 3,200 meter this season, he is a top six finisher in both those events at state.
Isaac Cortes, Granite Falls
Isaac Cortes ran the races of his life last track season at the end of the year, just a week too early before the 1A state meet. Ran personal best times at the district meet in 4:27.32 in the 1,600 meter placing fourth and 9:47.02 to win the 3,200 meter district title. The following week at state, Cortes was sixth in the 1,600 meter and third in the 3,200 meter running times of 4:32.61 and 9:52.02. Earlier in the season ran a personal best 800 meter time in 2:05.1. Last fall, Cortes won his second consecutive district one cross country title and then placed third at the 1A state meet in a personal best time of 16:03. Cortes has shown he's got great speed for a longer distance runner which I said is going to be a big factor in who wins the 3,200 meter state title this season. That is why Cortes is one of my favorites to win the 3,200 meter state title. I see him reaching down into the 9:40's or faster this season.
Landon Davies, Cascade (Leavenworth)
Landon Davies brings about as much energy onto the track when it comes to racing than any other runner. Cascade's top runner won the 1A 3,200 meter state title last spring in a time of 9:50.46 after taking full control of the last 400 meters of the race with his quick turnover ability. He was also fifth in the 1,600 meter running a time of 4:29.19. Ran personal best marks throughout the season of 2:04.86 in the 800 meter, 4:27.79 in the 1,600 meter, and 9:45.85 in the 3,200 meter. In the fall, Davies placed fifth at the 1A state cross country meet in a personal best time of 16:10.8 and led the Kodiaks to a fifth place team finish. Since Davies is the returning state champion in the 3,200 meter, he joins Granite Falls' Cortes and Port Townsend's Cantrell as one of my favorites to win the state title. Davies is also a top four finisher in the 1,600 meter, and I also liked to see him break two minutes in the 800 meter.
Jamar Distel, Riverside
Before cross country season, not a ton of people knew the name Jamar Distel. But if you paid any attention and watched Distel run his freshman year, you knew he was going to be a special talent in the coming future. And he has most definitely lived up to the hype. Named Most Improved Runner by our page last cross country season, Distel ran a personal best time of 15:32.6 at the Battle for the 509 Invite and finished as the runner-up with numerous big schools competing. Unfortunately Distel finished 13th at the 1A state meet in a time of 16:27, but it was an off day for sure. Last spring, Distel placed seventh in the 3,200 meter at the 1A state track meet in a time of 10:00.85, three seconds from his personal best of 9:57.56. Also ran a personal best time of 4:46.8 in the 1,600 meter. Distel is a no brainer for my dark horse pick this spring. Expect him to be in the mix in a chaotic 3,200 meter state title contention, as well as place top five in the 1,600 meter.
Nick LeBar, King's
Like Riverside's Distel, Nick LeBar of King's is another young runner who went way over expectations is first year running. Lebar was seventh in the 1,600 meter at the 1A state track meet running a time of 4:32.91, and 10th in the 3,200 meter running a time of 10:10.48. Ran his personal best times at the bi-district meet in both of these events in 4:26.98 and 9:59.01. In the fall, Lebar was eighth at the 1A state cross country meet running a time of 16:21.4, but ran a personal best earlier on at the Nike Twilight Invite in a time of 16:13. Curious to see what he can do in the 800 meter and improve upon his 2:10.84 personal best time. But his main focus will be on the 1,600 and 3,200 meter again this season. Will be a top eight finisher or better in both of these events at state.
Rob McManus, Cashmere
Rob McManus was nearly perfect throughout his sophomore track season. McManus completed his undefeated 1,600 meter racing with a come-from-behind win at the 1A state track meet running a personal best time of 4:24.19 to beat Charles Wright's Briejer. He also moved onto the finals of the 800 meter, where his personal best is 1:59.29, but unfortunately was disqualified at the end of the race for interference with another runner. McManus finished as the runner-up this past fall at the 1A state cross country meet running a time of 16:00.2. Ran his personal best time at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite in 15:40.9 where he beat numerous big school names. I'm going to pick McManus to win the 1,600 meter state title again this season. He is not afraid of tough competition and is willing to push himself to go above and beyond his goals. He will also be in the mix for the 800 meter race too.
Brayden Merrill, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls)
To end your high school cross country career with a fourth place individual finish and a second consecutive state team title is a great way to go out. Brayden Merrill ran a personal best time of 16:07.3 for his fourth place finish at the 1A state meet and was Lakeside's top runner in their team championship win. Last spring, Merrill was one of the most improved runners for the 1A's in track as he started the season running 2:11.36 in the 800 and 4:48.6 in the 1,600 meter. Merrill was able to place third in the 800 meter and fourth in the 1,600 meter races at the state meet running personal best times of 1:59.29 and 4:29.14. To run personal best times at the end of the season is a confidence booster and Merrill should build upon that. Look for him to place in the top three in the 800 meter again at state, as well as the 1,600 meter.
Dallin Price, Connell
Dallin Price makes this list because of his late season accomplishments in both tack and cross country. Price finished sixth this past fall at the 1A state cross country meet in a time of 16:19.5, which is only a second off his personal best. Last spring at the 1A state track meet, Price was seventh in the 800 meter running a personal best time of 2:01.87, placed 14th in the 1,600 meter running 4:41.98, and place 11th in the 3,200 meter running a personal best time of 10:12.62. To be fair, that is an impressive week of running at the state meet in a span of three days. I think Price should mainly focus on either the 800 or 3,200 meter and build on what he did from last year. Will be a top six finisher in the 800 meter and top eight finisher in the 3,200 meter at state. But if he focuses more on one then the other, he could place even higher.
Editor's Note: The top 1A boys distance runners list was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.