Around the state cross country championships

November 3, 2012 

While a pair of schools won their seventh consecutive state titles, a two-time runner-up finally realized his championship dreams, and another competitor hit the triple crown with her third state title, a course record and a team title.

All in a day’s work at the Washington State Cross Country Championships.

Perhaps no one was happier to cross the finish line first Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco than Mead’s Andrew Gardner, who finished second in the Class 4A boys race the last two years but crushed the field by 14 seconds, winning in 15 minutes, 2.3 seconds.

Meanwhile, Glacier Peak’s Amy-Eloise Neale capped a marvelous state career with her third title plus the Grizzlies’ second team title in three years.

Neale’s time of 17:03.6 not only was a course record, but it was 41 seconds better than future University of Washington teammate Katie Knight of North Central, who beat Neale for the title last season.

“It feels awesome,” Neale said. “Coming into this weekend, I didn’t want to leave anything out there undone. My goal was going under 17, and I came very, very close.”

Added Knight: “If you have just a not-perfect race against Amy, you’re not going to win, and she had a perfect race. I’m so happy for her.”

The North Central boys posted their seventh consecutive 3A championship, moving two shy of the nine Mead put together ending in 1996. However, judging by coach Jon Knight (Katie’s father), catching up with Pat Tyson’s old teams is not the goal.

“Each team is a team unto itself,” he said. “We don’t put that burden on them.”

The state’s other seven-time defending champion, the girls of Northwest Christian (Lacey), placed four in the top 10 and buried a good St. John-Endicott team 40-74.

Meanwhile, Sehome doubled up in the 2A ranks, winning the boys and girls titles for the third time in five seasons.

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