YAKIMA, WA - It had been 379 days since the state cross country championship race took place in Washington, and it was also the last organized high school race in Washington for both cross country and track to take place since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
This past Saturday, November 21, 2020, cross country made its return once again in Washington.
With under 100 high school kids gathered in Yakima at the SOZO Athletic Complex for an unattached 5k race, the Yakima XC Meet of Champions showcased some of the best athletes from around the state in the boy's and girl's races.
Sydney Collier of Cascade Striders from Bellevue came away with the win in the girl's race running a personal best time of 19:02 in her high school, big meet racing debut.
Meridian's Kayla Aalpoel, who was 12th last fall at the 1A state cross country championships, was second overall running 19:39. Lewis and Clark's Audrey Thronson was third running 19:53, 27 seconds off her personal best mark from the 4A state cross country meet.
Despite the loss of a season, Aalpoel feels this the best training she has ever done and believes her fitness level is going in the right direction heading into the spring.
"This fall hasn't been tough on me," said Aalpoel. "I've been training a lot and keeping active because I'm thinking about the hopeful season further along and continuing my journey to success."
Last falls 4A state cross country runner-up, Natalie Ruzauskas of Richland, finished fifth overall in a time of 20:05. Ferndale's Jaclyn Denham trailed by two seconds finishing in sixth running 20:07.
Asotin's Chloe Overberg placed seventh running a time of 20:17.
This was Overberg's first cross country race since her freshman year when she placed fifth at the 1B/2B cross country state championships, so she was very excited to get back out running again.
"It felt really good to get back to racing and pushing myself," said Overberg. "This fall has been challenging, but it's giving me time to get some good base-training in for the spring."
Other state podium placers from last fall finishing in the top 10 were Ellensburg's Kate Laurent (4th, 2A) placing eighth running 20:18, and Kamiak's Emma Arceo (15th, 3A) placing ninth running 20:36.
On the boy's side, Keller Norland of Timberhill Harriers won the individual title running a time of 15:49.