Taking a step back to the fall season, I stated that I had no idea who was going to do well in cross country for 2A girls. It was a toss up between multiple athletes, but after the season concluded, I got a better understanding of who were the best runners, and a lot of them will show their talents this spring. Here are the top 2A girls distance runners to watch for.
Kynzie DeLeon, Port Angeles
In only her second season of cross country, Kynzie DeLeon continued to impress people. Showing great signs in her first year of cross country placing 10th at the 2A state cross country meet last season, DeLeon finished 21st this fall in a time of 19:34.2, but ran a personal best time of 18:53.4 earlier in the season at the Hole in the Wall Invite. Aside from the placing at state, it was a solid year for DeLeon. During track last spring, DeLeon qualified for the state meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races and went on to run new personal best times of 5:19.86 and 11:24.05. Placed 13th in the 1,600 meter and 10th in the 3,200 meter. DeLeon makes another trip to state this year in both of her events, but this time will make a podium appearance.
Annika Esvelt, West Valley (Spokane)
There were big expectations for Annika Esvelt this cross country season after an impressive finish to her junior track season. Looking back at track season, Esvelt was a state podium finisher in the 1,600 meter placing eighth in a personal best time of 5:11.7 and seventh in the 3,200 meter in a personal best time of 11:04.3. But injuries plagued the West Valley senior from performing at her best at the 2A state cross country meet as she placed 20th running 19:29.6, 19 seconds off her personal best mark. She was a contributing member to the Eagles fourth place team at the state cross meet and on the state championship winning team in 2018. Esvelt has still lots to prove this track season and has the ability to live up to the hype that she created for herself in the spring last year. As long as she's healthy, Esvelt is a top five finisher in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races at state.
Cameron Hodges, Sehome
You can argue that Cameron Hodges is one of the best 800 meter runners to come through the historic Sehome track and field program. With three state appearances and three podium finishes throughout her career in this event, Hodges is an early season contender for the 2A state 800 meter title. Placed fifth last season at state running a time of 2:18.7, but has a personal best time of 2:16.08 from her sophomore season. Hodges is also a great 1,600 meter runner even though she didn't move on to state last spring in the event. In her sophomore season, she ran her 1,600 meter personal best time of 5:07.9 and then 10 days later place 10th at state. Occasionally will throw down in a 400 meter race as her personal best time is 61.2 seconds. Both speed and strength makes Hodges a terrific all-around athlete on the track.
Leah Holmgren, Ellensburg
When this school year is over, Leah Holmgren will be forever known as the greatest Ellensburg High School distance runner in both cross country and track and field on the girls side. It has been the start of a historical year for Holmgren as she went on to win the 2A state cross country individual title this past fall running a time of 18:16.4 and lead the Bulldogs to the programs first ever cross country state team title. Ran a personal best time of 17:58.3 at the Hole in the Wall Invite. Last spring, Holmgren was sixth in the 1,600 meter and fifth in the 3,200 meter at the 2A state track meet running personal best times of 5:03.85 and 10:57.38. Committed to run for the Idaho Vandals the next school year. Holmgren is my early season favorite to win two state individual titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races.
Lucia Ianello, Columbia River