Our first meets of the season are less than two weeks away. Our final distance runner preview of the season concludes with the top 1B distance runners to watch for. As Muckleshoot Tribal's Rosalie Fish moves on to compete in college, who will take over her three state championship spots this year? Let's meet those individuals in the mix.
Leah Armstrong, Lopez
Although she only competes in one distance event, Leah Armstrong is one of the best at the 1B level in the 800 meter. As a freshman last spring, Armstrong was the runner-up at the 1B state track meet in the 800 meter running 2:30.29, only two seconds off her personal best time of 2:28.62 from the preliminary heat. She was also a member of the third place 1,600 meter relay team for Lopez. Other than the 800 meter, Armstrong also competes in the 200 and 400 meter and a member of the 800 meter relay. Between Armstrong and Oakesdale Lizzy Perry, it's a toss up in the 800 meter state final and will come down to who has a better kick. I'd like to see Armstrong give the 1,600 meter a shot a few times this season.
Madison Dingman, Oakesdale
Madison Dingman couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending to her junior track season last spring. In her individual events at the 1B state meet, Dingman was fifth in the 1,600 meter and fourth in the 3,200 meter running personal best times of 5:54.96 and 12:42.71. She was also a member of the state championship winning 1,600 meter relay team for Oakesdale. In the fall, Dingman runs cross country for Colfax and she was 49th at the 1B/2B state meet running a 5,000 meter personal best time of 22:11.8. Dingman will finish on the podium again this year in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter as a top four finisher.
Clare Kondrat, Pope John Paul II
It's been quite the year for Clare Kondrat up to this point and hopefully she can continue that success this spring. Kondrat placed ninth individually in a time of 20:21.6 for the 5,000 meter race to lead Pope John Paul II to the school's first ever athletic state team title this past fall winning the 1B/2B state cross country meet. Earlier in the year, she ran a personal best time of 19:44 at the Sea-Tac League championships. Last spring, Kondrat placed third in the 1,600 meter and was the runner-up in the 3,200 meter at the 1B state meet running times of 5:37.28 and 12:23.86. Her state 1,600 meter time is her personal best while her 3,200 meter personal best is 12:21.86. Kondrat is my early season favorite to win the 1,600 and 3,200 meter state titles. Kondrat is a tough runner making her the best for 1B schools.
Maggie Larson, Pope John Paul II
Another key contributor to Pope John Paul's state championship winning cross country team, Maggie Larson looks to build on a successful first year of running in high school this track season as a junior. Last spring, Larson placed seventh at the 1B state track meet in the 800 meter running a time of 2:35.83, two seconds off her personal best time of 2:33.43 from the preliminary race the day before. She was also a member of the eighth place 1,600 meter relay team for Pope John Paul. Along with being on the Eagles state championship team, Larson was 28th as an individual running a 5,000 meter time of 21:20.6. Placed second at the Sea-Tac League championship when she ran her personal best time of 20:33. With the 800 meter state race being so close in times, Larson makes a case to be in contention to win a state title. Like Armstrong, I would like to see Larson run a few 1,600 meter races and see what can put together.
Anais Mills, Garfield-Palouse
Anais Mills can do it all in distance events as she showed by placing in all three of them last spring at the 1B state track meet. Mills was fifth in the 800 meter running 2:33.52, fourth in the 1,600 meter running 5:54.03, and third in the 3,200 meter in a personal best time of 12:37.26. Mills personal bests in the 800 and 1,600 meter were ran her sophomore year in 2:30.31 and 5:48.35. In the fall, Mills had an undefeated record in cross country up until the 1B/2B state meet as she placed second overall in a time of 19:24.6, where the previous season her best time was 20:51.7. As my dark horse pick for the season, Mills could cause some havoc on the track and surprise a lot of people. She makes a case for being a state title contender in the 800 and 3,200 meter races.
Lizzy Perry, Oakesdale
Whether it's on the basketball court or on the track, Lizzy Perry is the best athlete on this list. Last spring, Perry put together some great 1B state track meet performances placing third in the 800 meter running 2:30.43 and second in the 1,600 meter running a personal best time of 5:34.05. Perry was also on Oakesdale's 800 meter relay team that placed fifth and 1,600 meter relay team that took first for a second consecutive year. Perry is one runner who could challenge Pope John Paul's Clare Kondrat for the 1,600 meter state title, as well as challenge Lopez's Leah Armstrong for the 800 meter state title.
Editor's Note: The top 1B girls distance runners list was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.