From all classifications, I believe the 3A girls have the most talented distance runners in the state. With three individual champions and many podium finishers returning from last years state meet, a lot of familiar faces will be on this list.
Geraldin Correa, Kennewick
Much like former 800 meter 3A state champion and her older brother, Johan Correa, Geraldin Correa has crazy speed and ability to outkick her opponents by a ton. In the fall, she was fifth at the 3A state cross country championships running a new personal best time of 18:09.3, and the year before she was the runner-up behind North Central's Allie Janke. It was tough ending for Correa in the spring last track season as she wasn't able to get out of the preliminary rounds in the 400 and 800 meter races as she finsihed 10th and 11th. Although, in her sophomore year she did very well taking 4th in the 800 meter and 7th in the 1,600 meter. Her personal best times are 57.94 in the 400 meter, 2:12.89 in the 800 meter, and 5:01.34 in the 1,600 meter. Correa will be in contention for the 800 meter state championship because of her speed and what she is capable of as shown from previous track seasons.
Meri Dunford, Prairie
Meri Dunford can do it all both on the track and the basketball court. The three sport athlete was the runner-up last spring in the 1,600 meter 3A state final as she ran a personal best time of 4:54.99, over 10 seconds faster from her sophomore year time. She also was third in the 3,200 meter state final and ran a personal best time of 10:52.21. Dunford had a much improved cross country season dropping her personal best time by 25 seconds to 18:05.5. Placed 10th overall individually at the 3A state meet to earn her a third podium finish in her high school cross country career. I said it in the fall, and I am going to say it again, Dunford is my dark horse for track this upcoming season. With her ability to keep improving and get better as a runner, this decision was a no brainer.
Katherine Forsberg, Bellevue
Although Katherine Forsberg only qualified in one event for the 3A state track meet last spring, she laid it on the line and ran at her absolute best. Forsberg ran 11 seconds faster than the week before in the 3,200 meter state final running a time of 10:54.53 earning herself a seventh place medal. She also ran a personal best time in the 1,600 meter running 5:16.13. Realizing she could compete with the state's best runners, this last fall was an incredible final year of high school cross country for Forsberg as she was able to place seventh at the 3A state meet running a time of 18:13.3, which is a second off from her personal best set at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invite. If the trend continues upward, Forsberg is in for a great senior track season. I see her as a top five finisher or better in the 3,200 meter at state.
Erinn Hill, North Central
Erinn Hill will go down as one of the more decorative athletes in North Central's cross country history after her final year of track. Will go forth and run for the University of Wisconsin-Madison next fall, Hill has a state medal total of nine between track and cross country. Last spring, Hill made her third state track meet appearance placing fourth in the 1,600 meter running 5:01.94 and second in the 3,200 meter running a season best time of 10:42.73. She was also on the 1,600 meter relay team that placed second. A main contributor to North Central's state championship record breaking performance this past fall at the 3A state cross country championships, Hill was second individually running a time of 18:20.3. Ran a personal best at Nike Hole in the Wall in 17:35.7 earlier. Hill will be a top two finisher in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter state races.
Allie Janke, North Central
If Allie Janke's junior cross country season isn't the biggest comeback ever in Washington state high school athletic history, then you people are not seeing the right thing. Janke competed in only two races this past fall and one of them was winning the 3A state cross country individual title. She hadn't run all season until the last two weeks and was able to accomplish something like that to help her team win a third consecutive state title. Back in the spring, Janke was the 3A state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races running a personal best time of 4:43.6 and 10:10.83. Like her teammate, Erinn Hill, Janke was a member of the second place 1,600 meter relay team. After state concluded, Janke competed in the Brooks PR Invite in the mile and place fourth running 4:42.91. My early season pick to three-peat in the 1,600 and repeat in the 3,200 meter state finals.
Kate Jendrezak, Eastside Catholic
On the national level, Kate Jendrezak is one of the best mid-distance runners around. Jendrezak comes into her final season of track as a three-peat 3A state champion in the 800 meter, and as the top returner in the 400 meter running 55.05 seconds. Ran a personal best time of 2:09.71 in the 800 meter at the Arcadia Invite. Ran a few 1,600 meter races as well running a season best time of 5:07.84, four seconds off her personal best. Committed to run for UCLA in track, and I will also assume for cross country too. Jendrezak will win her fourth consecutive 800 meter state title, and add a 400 meter state title too.
Sarah Mirkin, Holy Names
Sarah Mirkin was a main factor in Holy Names' 3A state team title for track last spring with her great performances in the 800 and 1,600 meter races. Placed third in the 800 meter running 2:14.78, a second off her personal best, and fifth in the 1,600 meter running a personal best time of 5:03.33. Ran one of the legs on the third place 1,600 meter relay team for the Cougars. This fall, Mirkin made her first appearance on the state podium in cross country taking 16th overall in a season best time of 18:51.9 and led her team to a second place finish behind nationally ranked North Central. Tons to look forward this season for this young athlete as she will be in contention for an even better placing at state track in both the 800 and 1,600 meter.
Maya Nichols, Central Kitsap
Along with Holy Names' Mirkin, Central Kitsap's Maya Nichols is the future of success in 3A track. Qualified for the 3A state meet last spring in the 1,600 meter placing 10th running 5:09.61 and the 3,200 meter placing 9th in a personal best time of 11:02.92. Nichols gained another podium finish at the 3A state cross country championships in the fall with an 11th place finish running a time of 18:35. Nichols will see the podium for the time first time at state track in May for the 1,600 and 3,200 meters races.
Kate Simmons, Eastside Catholic
Kate Simmons is a top-notch long distance runner for all classifications in Washington. Whether it's in the 3,200 meter or a 5k in cross country, Simmons is one of the best. Ran a personal best mark of 10:53.52 in the 3,200 meter at the 3A state track meet to place sixth. Didn't make it to state in the 1,600 meter, but ran a personal best time early in the season at 5:07.91. Simmons placed fourth this last fall at the 3A state cross meet running 18:00.6. I have Simmons as a top three finisher in the 3,200 meter and a top eight finisher in the 1,600 meter, if she qualifies in it.
Emma Velling, Holy Names
Emma Velling is our second Holy Names' runner to make the list as she is a good 800 and 1,600 meter runner. Velling reached the podium in one of her two events at the 3A state track meet that she qualified for. Placed fifth in the 800 meter running 2:15.68 and ninth in the 1,600 meter running a personal best time of 5:05.85. In the fall, Velling was 28th individually at the 3A state cross country meet running a season best time of 19:21.5, while also contributing to the Cougars second place team finish.
Editor's Note: The top 3A girls distance runners list was compiled by track and field and cross country analyst Keenan Gray.