Richland High School cross country coach Jay Bartlett is pretty lucky to have the duo of Riley Moore and Katie Andrus representing the Bombers.
Moore and Andrus were named the 2016 Mid-Columbia Conference and Tri-City Herald All-Area cross country runners of the year. Both went to state this fall, with Moore placing 13th in the Class 4A boys field and Andrus 12th in the girls race at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
Perhaps most exciting for Bartlett is that he will have Andrus for one more season and Moore for two.
Moore finished no worse than fourth in any race leading up to state. He opened the season with a victory at the Highlander Invite in Spokane, won both MCC regular-season meets and repeated as the 4A district champion.
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But the grind of the season caught up with him at state. After falling twice near the finish of the 5,000-meter race, he was suffering from dehydration and left Sun Willows in an ambulance.
“I think I was failing to recover the right way at the start of the season, and it got me at the end,” Moore said.
Still, he finished in 15 minutes, 47.9 seconds — 7 seconds off his time at state last year, when he was 10th. He also was the fastest Mid-Columbia runner across all classifications at this year’s state championships.
“It just got to the point where he didn’t have a whole lot left in his legs and kind of did what he could to finish up,” Bartlett said. “But looking at where he was gonna finish versus where he finished, it was a great day for him.”
Moore has spent the past few weeks recovering physically. But, he said, “my mind just doesn’t stop with this sport, no matter what.”
“The night of state, when I got home, I was already planning what’s gonna go on this next season,” he added.
After Andrus finished 19th at the Highlander Invite and 13th at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational in Lakewood, there wasn’t much stopping her the rest of the season.
She was second to Walla Walla’s Erika Leinweber in the first conference meet of the year — a 5,000-meter affair at Fort Walla Walla — then beat the Blue Devils senior by almost 20 seconds to win the 3-mile MCC race at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick.
Andrus was eighth at the Max Jensen Richland Invitational, first at districts and then seventh in a 4A regional field that included state-ranked teams Central Valley, Lewis & Clark, Mead and Hanford.
“It all kind of started to click at the end of cross country last year when she was able to qualify for state,” Bartlett said. “She was the last girl to qualify out of our region. Just having that experience under her belt and that taste of it was a big, big deal for her.”
Andrus and Bartlett agreed that her best performance of the season came at state. She crossed the finish at Sun Willows with a PR of 18:43.4 and shot up 64 spots from last year’s 76th-place showing.
The following weekend, Andrus got another major confidence boost, taking fourth in the girls 5,000-meter open invitational race at the Nike Cross Regionals in Boise.
“It kind of opens my eyes,” Andrus said. “Getting 12th at state is amazing, and then going to an even bigger race and being able to place so well, it gives me validation and makes me feel good.”
Andrus is joined on the All-Area girls first team by Leinweber of Walla Walla, Kennewick’s Geraldin Correa, Waitsburg’s Emily Adams, Kamiakin’s Mirannda Shulman and Hanford’s Kat Bushman and Kendra Keller.
On the boys first team, Moore is joined by Kamiakin’s Jonah Franco and Ryan Child, Kennewick’s Johan Correa, College Place’s Kenneth Rooks, DeSales’ Daniel Ness and Walla Walla’s Alex Iben.
Kamiakin’s Matt Rexus and Hanford’s Sean Mars are the All-Area cross country coaches of the year.
Rexus coached the Kamiakin boys to the MCC regular-season championship, second place at the 3A bi-district and tri-district meets, and third at state. It was the Braves’ sixth consecutive top-three state finish.
In the Hanford girls’ inaugural 4A season, Mars guided the Falcons to their first league title in 24 years and their first district championship since 2008.
2016 TRI-CITY HERALD ALL-AREA CROSS COUNTRY
Runner of the Year: Riley Moore, so., Richland. Coach of the Year: Matt Rexus, Kamiakin.
First team: Riley Moore, so., Richland; Jonah Franco, jr., Kamiakin; Ryan Child, so., Kamiakin; Johan Correa, so., Kennewick; Kenneth Rooks, jr., College Place; Daniel Ness, sr., DeSales; Alex Iben, sr., Walla Walla.
Second team: Caleb Olson, so., Hanford; Keanu Daos, jr., Southridge; Kyler Lee, sr., Kamiakin; Porter Grigg, so., Kamiakin; Traven Bills, sr., Kamiakin; Jared Wright, sr., Hanford; Anthony Stone, jr., Richland.
Runner of the Year: Katie Andrus, jr., Richland. Coach of the Year: Sean Mars, Hanford.
First team: Katie Andrus, jr., Richland; Geraldin Correa, fr., Kennewick; Emily Adams, sr., Waitsburg; Mirannda Shulman, sr., Kamiakin; Kat Bushman, so., Hanford; Kendra Keller, fr., Hanford; Erika Leinweber, sr., Walla Walla.
Second team: Brooke Moon, sr., Kamiakin; Hailey Cleavenger, sr., Hanford; Grace Arnold, so., Hanford; Lizzie Stites, jr., Southridge; Julia Almaguer, sr., Kamiakin; Hailey Bullis, so., Chiawana; Paige Raebel, fr., Kennewick.