Updated: Jan 16
For the most part, this spring is going to be very familiar to those who kept an eye on the high school track and field world last year. With a two-time state champion returning, along with more incredibly talented individuals, the 4A girls distance runners bring tons of excitement to the track. Let's meet them.
Emma Arceo, Kamiak
It's unfortunate Emma Arceo wasn't able to make it to the state track meet last spring as a freshman after the incredible success she had due to a difficult district she had to compete in. Like most athletes, Arceo ran her personal best marks at the final meet of the year at districts running 5:03.03 in the 1,600 meter and 11:13.7 in the 3,200 meter. She also ran 2:21.8 for the 800 meter as well. Arceo was a 15th place finisher at the 4A state cross meet running a time of 18:44.7, just 14 seconds off her personal best mark. After a year of being under the wing of her former teammates and now collegiate runners, Leah Clark (Emory College) and Alicia Anderson (Gonzaga), Arceo is in the drivers seat to continue Kamiak's success of outstanding distance runners.
Ella Borsheim, Bellarmine Prep
Like Arceo, Ella Borsheim is a great talent and is only going to a be sophomore this coming track season. After winning the 4A state cross title her freshman year, Borsheim continued her success in the spring where she placed second and third at the 4A state track meet in the 800 (2:12.93) and 1,600 (4:57.01, PR) meter races. She ran the 3,200 meter in a personal best mark of 11:00.23. After track concluded, Borsheim traveled down to Portland, Oregon for a Track Festival and ran a personal best time of 2:11.09 in the 800. This last fall, Borsheim finished in 16th at the state cross meet. Borsheim is my early season favorite to win the 800 meter state final.
Julia David-Smith, Issaquah
In the last year, Julia David-Smith has had the most success out of any runner in the state of Washington, both boy or girl. And as far as times, she is up there among the nations elite runners. This past cross season, David-Smith claimed the 4A individual title after placing as the runner-up the year before. She also earned All-American honors after her 18th place finish at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland. David-Smith won the 4A 1,600 and 3,200 meter state races last spring running personal best times of 4:50.35 and 10:21.15. Also ran an 800 meter personal best time of 2:13.01. Probably her best race of the season was down at the Nike Twilight Relays in Portland as she was third in the mile running a personal best time of 4:49.17. If David-Smith were to triple at the state meet this season, that would be incredible and I would think she would have plenty of success. My early season favorite to win the 1,600 and 3,200 state finals.
Lili Hargreaves, Redmond
Lili Hargreaves was the leader of the first ever state girl's cross country championship team in Redmond history this last fall as she placed ninth overall individually running a time of 18:36.6. Sophomore track was great for her as she qualified for the 4A state meet in two events. Ran personal best times at the state meet running 5:05.42 placing eighth in the 1,600 meter and 10:53.79 placing fourth in the 3,200 meter. A tough runner and someone willing to do anything for her team to be successful, Hargreaves made huge strides from last spring to fall to get herself in the conversation of top distance runners in the state.
Halle Jenkins, Camas
Halle Jenkins is a competitor unlike any other runner in Washington, and you can see that through her grit and determination when she performs at her best in any race. Placed 12th this past fall at the 4A state cross meet running a time of 18:38.1 and led Camas to a second place team finish behind Redmond. During track her junior year, Jenkins was 12th in the 1,600 meter running 5:09.77 and 9th in the 3,200 meter running a personal best time of 11:00.81 at the 4A state meet. A little bit of down year in the 1,600 as her personal best time was ran in 5:03.26, but a great improvement in the 3,200 as she was able to drop 13 seconds from her previous best. Just a few more steps to improve upon and you'll see the Camas senior on the podium this spring in either the 1,600 or 3,200.
Ella Nelson, Walla Walla
Not very many girls go from running a five minute, 12 second 1,600 meter time their freshman season, to running a four minute, 52 second 1,600 meter time their sophomore season. That's an insane amount of time Ella Nelson dropped in one year to place herself among Washington's best, and finish up as the runner-up at the 4A state track meet. Nelson also finished in third place at state in the 3,200 meter running a time of 10:45.98. Ran a season best time of 2:15.99 in the 800 meter. After finishing fifth her sophomore year in cross country at the state meet, Nelson fell back to 36th place running a season best time of 19:10.2. Besides Issaquah's David-Smith being my favorite to win the 1,600 meter state title, be on the lookout for Nelson up in the mix.
Natalie Ruzauskas, Richland
A successful freshman track season led Natalie Ruzauskas to try cross country out as a sophomore, and well, it was the right decision. Ruzauskas was this year's runner-up at the 4A state cross meet running a time of 18:22.1, one tenth of a second from her personal best mark in which she ran the previous week. Qualified for the state track meet last spring and placed 10th in the 800 meter preliminary round running 2:17.8. Ran personal best times of 2:16.39 for the 800 and 5:18.18 in the 1,600 meter. As my dark horse pick for the season, I'm excited to see what Ruzauskas can build on from what she learned in her first seasons of track and cross country.
Roz Slichko, Emerald Ridge
Emerald Ridge isn't just known for line dancing before and after every single cross country meet, Roz Slichko highlights the Jaguars as their top runner. Slichko finished third at the 4A state cross meet in the fall running a personal best time of 18:22.2, six seconds faster from her previous best, and it was her first podium finish after placing 34th the year before. In the spring, Slichko was seventh at the state track meet in the 3,200 meter as she ran 10:57.15 for a new personal best. Also place 13th in the 1,600 meter running 5:10.27, but ran a personal best time earlier in the year at 5:06.8. Credit to Slichko's success through coach Jay Bates because just a little Footloose goes a long way in helping out a runner calm their nerves before an important race.
Aviry Stratton, Glacier Peak
Southern Utah University got a really good recruit coming to run for them next fall in Aviry Stratton. The Glacier Peak senior placed fourth after having placed 19th as a junior at the 4A state cross meet in the fall running a season best time of 18:26.7. During track, Stratton made podium in two events at the state meet in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races. She was sixth in the 1,600 running 5:04.49 and fifth in the 3,200 running 10:55.26. Earlier ran personal best times of 4:56.15 for the 1,600 and 10:38.39 in the 3,200. From an overall perspective, I think Stratton is better at the 3,200 and someone that can challenge Issaquah's David-Smith for the title. My only concern is when she runs her personal best marks. Midway through the year, she's one of the states best. But towards the end, Stratton fell backwards and never reached those marks again. It's not that she peaked, she just raced a ton, which can have a negative impact later on.
Emma Summers, Richland
Emma Summers is our second Bomber to make the list along with her training partner Ruzauskas. Summers was 10th in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter state races last spring running a personal best time in the 1,600 at 5:08.08 and 11:07.68 in the 3,200. The previous week Summers ran her 3,200 meter personal best in 11:00.84. Placed 68th at the state cross meet running a time of 19:37.2. Having a training partner like Ruzauskas along your side, Summers is going to continue to get better and hopefully can claim a podium spot when it comes time in May.
Editor's Note: The 4A girl's distance runners list was put together by cross country and track and field analyst Keenan Gray.