Even with Adna's Austen Apperson and Walla Walla Valley's Justin Roosmas graduating this last spring, the 2B boys bring back plenty of talent this year and we will witness a new state champion in all three distance events. Here are the top 2B boys to watch for this season.
Andre Knudson, La Conner
Big improvements from freshman to sophomore year for La Conner's Andre Knudson. Knudson dropped multiple seconds in three of his events and qualified for the 2B state track meet in all of them. He placed 10th in both the 1,600 meter running 4:46.66, nine seconds off his personal best of 4:37.73, and the 3,200 meter running a personal best time of 10:39.11. In the 800 meter, Knudson placed on the podium finishing seventh running 2:04.64, three seconds off his personal best of 2:01.36 from the preliminary race the previous day. Great speed can carry Knudson a long way this season and it's not just in the 800 meter. He is a top four finisher in the 800 meter, but don't be surprised if he comes around in the 1,600 or 3,200 meter and places top eight in one or both.
Nicholas Marty, Toledo
Nicholas Marty began the season on a hot start last spring throwing down personal best times in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races. Marty ran 4:34.75 in the 1,600 meter at the Kalama Twilight Invite and 9:55.95 in the 3,200 at a 2B Central League meet. But since those races, Marty was not able to reach those marks again at the 2B state meet. However, despite running slower times at state, Marty went home with two medals in these events. Placed eighth in the 1,600 meter running 4:40.94 and fourth in the 3,200 meter running 10:04.98. Last fall, Marty was sixth at the 1B/2B state cross country meet running 16:12.7, where the week before he ran a personal best time of 15:55.7 at the district four championships. I know Marty can execute a great race in the 3,200 meter at state as a top three finisher, it's just the question of whether he is able to run well in the 1,600 meter to reach the podium. He is young, but is an experienced runner.
Ryland McCullough, Northwest Christian (Lacey)
Northwest Christian hit the jackpot when they got Ryland McCullough this past fall as a transfer student from Oregon. McCullough was one of the best 800 meter runners at the 5A level in Oregon running a personal best time of 1:55.29 at the state track meet his sophomore year. He's also a talented 1,500 meter runner with a personal best time of 4:05.76. Last fall, McCullough was 33rd at the 1B/2B state cross country meet running17:20.6 and a member of the Wolverines sixth consecutive state team title. McCullough and his teammate, Garrett McSheffrey, are the top two favorites to win the 800 meter state title this spring.
Garrett McSheffrey, Northwest Christian (Lacey)
As last years runner-up at the 2B state track meet in the 800 meter, Garrett McSheffrey is an early season favorite to win the events state title this spring. McSheffrey ran a personal best time of 1:56.34 in the 800 meter finals at state as runner-up, and also placed third in both the 1,600 meter running 4:27.94, three seconds off his personal best of 4:24.27, and in the 3,200 meter running a personal best time of 10:03.57. Earlier in the season at the Eason Invite, McSheffrey had one of the best performances in the 800 meter as he ran 1:58.8 to advance to the evenings elite race, and then ran a personal best time in the elite race in 1:56.82, all within a span of five hours. Last fall, McSheffrey placed seventh at the 1B/2B state cross country meet running 16:22.6 and was second on the Wolverines state championship team. He's also been part of four state championship teams at Northwest Christian. Along with being a favorite to win the 800 meter state race, McSheffrey is also in the mix win the 1,600 meter state title as well.
Cameron Nielsen, Northwest Christian (Lacey)
Cameron Nielsen had a good turnaround from track to cross country this past fall. From running 16:56.8 at the 1B/2B state cross country meet his junior year, Nielsen ran 30 seconds faster his senior year running a time of 16:25.8, 35 seconds off his personal best of 15:50.7, to place ninth individually. Last spring, Nielsen only qualified for the 3,200 meter but placed seventh in a time of 10:27.01, 26 seconds off his personal best of 10:01.05. Also ran 4:44.57 for his 1,600 meter personal best. Nielson was the big surprise for the Wolverines last spring making him my dark horse pick this season. Nielsen returns as one of the top contenders to win the 3,200 meter state crown. He is also a top six potential placer in the 1,600 meter as well. Will run for Arizona Christian University next fall.
Noah Phillips, Northwest Christian (Lacey)
Noah Phillips is arguably the best small school runner in the entire state, but if there is one thing missing from his running resume, it's a state title. Last track season, Phillips ran personal best times of 4:25.99 and 9:28.46 in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races placing him as one of the top runners, if not the best, at the 2B level. Along with qualifying for the 2B state track meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races, Phillips also ran in the 800 meter. He placed sixth in all three races, which for him is not where he wanted to be. But he bounced back this last fall in cross country where he placed fourth at the 1B/2B state meet in a fast field running 16:10.7 and was the Wolverines top runner on their state championship winning team. Like his teammate McSheffrey, Phillip has also been a part of four state championship teams at Northwest Christian. With the times Phillip ran last season and what he is capable of, the Colorado Christian University commit is my favorite to win the 1,600 and 3,200 meter state titles.
Daniel Quintana, Ilwaco
Daniel Quintana is ready to make some more noise this track season after what was an incredible first year of competing in cross country. Not only did have tons of success in his first season, Quintana managed to pull off a state championship winning performance at the 1B/2B cross country meet running a time of 15:55.8, only 11 seconds off his personal best of 15:44.5. If you thought that was impressive, as a freshman in track, Quintana placed fourth in the 1,600 meter at the 2B state meet in a time of 4:31.3, less than a second off his personal best of 4:30.81, and also placed 10th in the preliminary round of the 800 meter running 2:03.1, also less than a second off his personal best of 2:02.81. Ran the 3,200 meter a couple of times and ran a personal best 10:43.43. Big things are coming Quintana's way this spring as he will be in the state title contention talk for the 1,600 meter, and perhaps the 3,200 meter too.
Addison Smee, Kalama
Rounding out the talented underclassman on our list comes from Kalama's Addison Smee. Last spring, Smee was seventh in the 1,600 meter and fifth in the 3,200 meter at the 2B state track meet running times of 4:37.01 and 10:12.3. Earlier on in the year, Smee ran personal best times in those events running 4:35.14 and 9:59.87. In the fall, Smee took a step back and ended up placing 11th at the 1B/2B cross country state meet running a time of 16:44.7, where the year before he was fourth overall. Ran a season best time of 16:04.9, two seconds off he personal best, at the district meet the week before state. Like Toledo's Marty, if Smee wants to have an even better track season this spring as a junior, he needs to remain consistent in his races. If you run fast times at the beginning of the year, then you need to build on that. If he does so, Smee is a top four finisher in the 3,200 meter and a top five finisher in the 1,600 meter at state.
Editor's Note: The top 2B boys distance runners list was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.