We are roughly two months away from what is a hopeful fall sports season, and after the WIAA's decision about returning to play, which will be talking about in this preview, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for these high school athletes.
As we look ahead, here are some key points and stats to think about heading into what should be an interesting, exciting, cross country season in the state of Washington.
Will There be a Cross Country Season?
There have been speculations on both sides about whether or not there will be something, but it all boils down to what phases counties across the state are in, and the decision from the WIAA and Governor Inslee.
The Seattle Times reported on June 11 that State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced he expects schools to re-open and return to in-person learning this fall as long as public health guidelines allow them to do so.
The reopening of schools would lay down the foundation of what is to come in the near future of high school sports.
The WIAA also released their Return-to-Activity Guidelines on June 22 stating how the fall sports can approach opening up again for practice and competition.
Of all the sports, cross country was determined to be lower risk, so if anything, cross country is the activity most likely to happen this fall. But, we can only hope for the best.
Re-Classifying Schools for 2020-2024 and the Impact on State XC
The WIAA compiled their new enrollment four-year cycle earlier this year in January and will go into effect this fall with plenty of schools shifting around.
The 1B classification leads all six classifications with 88 schools assigned the next four school years, followed by 3A (79), 2A (62), 2B (61), 1A (60), and 4A (51).
Because of the shift in numbers of schools assigned at each classification, there is the potential for the number of state qualifying teams to change as well.
For years it's been 16 qualified teams for each classification at state, but now those numbers could down, specifically for 1B/2B and 4A, while some could go up, specifically for 3A.
The 4A schools could shift from 16 teams to 12 teams due to the number of schools they have, and the 3A schools could bump up from 16 teams to 20 teams because of their higher number of schools.
The 1B/2B schools on the boy's side could also shift down to 12 qualifying teams due to the number of participants they have.
As for 1A and 2A, it appears they will stay the same at 16 qualifying teams and the 1B/2B girls will remain at 12 qualifying teams.
Moving Forward - North Central Girls, Kamiakin Boys
After three years of total dominance throughout the entire state, and on the national level, the North Central girls and Kamiakin boys will be taking a step back from a team perspective and look to rebuild.
North Central graduates Erinn and Mia Hill, Marie Taylor, and Amelu Ruff, arguably the greatest quadrant of senior runners the Indians have ever put together in the program's history, while Allie Janke is back for her senior season.
While Janke will be chasing after her third consecutive state cross country individual title, the rest of the team will figure out who will accompany the best long-distance runner in Washington in larger invite races.
Madison Lee and Kendall Carter have made their mark on last year's varsity team and will continue to do so again.
Tyisha Begshisown will make her varsity debut this year, but after her, it's up in the air as to who will fill the fifth through seventh runner.
As for Kamiakin, being one of the very few teams moving up to 4A, the Braves are set for the top two spots on the varsity team with reigning individual 3A state champion Isaac Teeples and Grayson Wilcott back.
After Teeples and Wilcott, not one single returning Kamiakin runner ran under 17 minutes for a 5,000-meter race, making it very difficult to attempt a four-peat state team title.
Despite the times, the Braves will be a heavy veteran team with soon-to-be seniors Jordan Sanguino, Isaac Edwards, and Kolter Lynch moving on up to varsity.
Soon-to-be juniors Forrest Hopkins and Jonathan Rexus will be in the mix as well. The depth Kamiakin has can also change the varsity team positions any day of the week.
Can't Stop and Won't Stop Sehome Boys
Steilacoom had their chance last season to end Sehome's championship dominance once and for all, especially with a large lead in the team standings with under a mile to go.
The Sentinels even had three podium finsihers, and Sehome had none.
But it's obvious that Sehome prides themselves on team first, so that's what carried them to their eighth consecutive state team title over Steilacoom.
And a ninth state title in the future is looking good for the Mariners as they return five runners from last year's team including Zack Munson and Roman Schroyer.
Not only could they win as a team, Munson could even win a state title of his own as an individual.
Munson completed a recent 5,000-meter time trial last Saturday running a time of 15:22.5, a week later following his races down at the Desert Dream Last Hurrah in Arizona. Last fall he ran 15:57.5 as a freshman.
Munson won't be the only runner on the podium for Sehome. You can expect Schroyer, Max and Jake Gargano, and Ahmed Wariyo in the mix to be considered top 16 finsihers.
I know it's really early to say, but this could be Sehome's best team ever if everything falls into place.
David-Smith vs Borsheim - Part 3
Whether it's on the track or the cross country course, the rivalry between Issaquah's Julia David-Smith and Bellarmine's Ella Borsheim is always one everyone looks forward to watching at the state meet.
David-Smith evened up the cross country state meet series to 1-1 last fall winning the 4A individual title by a landslide over Borsheim who placed 16th.
Overall, David-Smith was the better runner between the two last fall as she ran a state leading time of 17:07 for 5,000-meters, had an overall record of 9-1 in meets in Washington, and earned All-American honors at Nike Cross Nationals.
This doesn't mean Borsheim took a step back in her training, but rather some days we all don't have our best race. You do remember she won state as a freshman right?
In fact a few weeks after state concluded, Borsheim bounced back tremendously and ran in the Footlocker West Regional meet placing sixth overall to qualify for the Footlocker national meet.
With track season being cancelled, we weren't able to see them square off at state again, but both girls drove down to Arizona for the Desert Dream Last Hurrah and ran in the 3,200-meter with Borsheim placing higher than David-Smith.