KENNEWICK -- Nothing like a little pressure and a big target to start the season.
The Kamiakin boys cross country team is rated eighth in the nation in Dyestat.com's preseason rankings, six spots ahead of five-time defending 3A state champion North Central of Spokane.
The Braves return all seven runners from last year's team that finished fifth at state, including senior Anthony Armstrong, who placed third in state cross country last year but won the state mile and 2-mile titles in the spring. Other senior state vets are Austin Richards, Phil Snyder and Taylor Kraal.
North Central, which has had a remarkable run nationally as well as in the state, has four of seven returning runners and no seniors.
The Kamiakin boys and girls figure to rank at or near the top in the state. The Braves girls will return four of their five scoring runners and five of seven from last year's fourth-place trophy team, including junior Michelle Fletcher (seventh at state) and senior Stephanie Rexus (eighth).
Kamiakin's girls didn't crack the national poll.
The only Washington team to land in the Top 25 is Glacier Peak of Snohomish, led by internationally recognized junior Amy Eloise-Neal, who won state titles as a freshman and sophomore.