RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Richland Invite always brings top-shelf cross country talent to the Carmichael Middle School course, and today's 44th edition is no different.
The all-day event features 13 competitions within 11 races, starting with the 3-mile citizens race at 9:30 a.m. The elite boys race is slated for 1:55 p.m., followed by the girls.
The boys side is loaded, like double-cheeseburger-deluxe-with-a-side-of-onion-rings loaded.
Mead senior Andrew Gardner and Seattle Prep junior Joe Hardy are ranked seventh and eighth in the nation, with North Central junior Kai Wilmot 15th.
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Gardner, a two-time Class 4A state runner-up who finished sixth at Footlocker Nationals last year, has won every race he has run this fall. Hardy won at the Sundodger and Bob Firman this season, edging Wilmot by 3.34 seconds in Boise. He was fourth at Richland last year, again finishing just ahead of Wilmot.
Another serious contender is Lewis & Clark's Sumner Goodwin, who placed second last week at the Stanford Invite.
Kamiakin's Austin Oser could place among those top contenders, provided he is healthy -- a big if for the Braves senior so far. Also, keep an eye out for Hermiston's Jose Macias.
Locally, the top runners are Oser and whichever of his Kamiakin teammates chooses to go off this week as the Braves have alternated their front-runners. Indeed, Kamiakin's most consistent runner has been Garrett Kraal, the Braves' No. 2 runner at every event.
Likewise, Hermiston's Macias and Alejandro Cisneros should finish well, along with Richland's Michael Williams and Ryan Francis, Walla Walla's Sean Newcomb and Waitsburg-Prescott's Seth Deal.
In the team race, six-time defending Class 3A state champion North Central has won the last five Richland races and is ranked fifth in the nation.
If the Indians are challenged -- and that is a big if -- it likely would come from Kamiakin, ranked 20th nationally, or Lewis & Clark or Seattle Prep.
The race to finish in the top four on the boys side will be heated, with 11 of Washington's top 10 3A or 4A teams in the field, as well as Oregon 5A threat Hermiston.
The girls side might not be "double-cheeseburger" loaded, but it has plenty of elite talent with North Central's Katie Knight, Camas' Alexa Efraimson and Mt. Rainier's Jordan McPhee on the bill.
Knight, who won her third Bob Firman title this season, is the reigning 3A state champion, and she placed third last year at Nike Nationals. She won Richland as a freshman and sophomore before skipping the event last season. That opened the door for McPhee to win last year. Both are set for this year, but don't overlook Efraimson, who placed second last week at Stanford.
The rest of the field might be hard pressed to crack the top three, but a challenge could come from Richland sophomore Lindsey Bradley. She was ninth at last week's Nike Pre-Nationals, finishing within 7.5 seconds of sixth-place McPhee.
Also, Kamiakin junior Megan Beauchene could finish top five in her first cross country season.
Among the local runners, look for Richland's Lauren Perry and Kamiakin's Michelle Fletcher to head a group that will fill the top 20.
Camas, Richland and Kamiakin are the top contenders for the team title. The Papermakers, the defending 3A state champions who bumped up this season, are ranked No. 1 in the state 4A poll. The Bombers are No. 3 in 4A and the Braves No. 4 in 3A.
44th annual Richland Invite
Carmichael MS, today
Boys varsity I: 1:55 p.m.
2011 champs: Anthony Armstrong, sr., Kamiakin (14:52.03 course, meet record); North Central team.
Top teams: North Central, Lewis & Clark, Kamiakin, Kamiak, Seattle Prep, Hermiston, Nathan Hale, Central Valley, University, Mt. Spokane.
Top individuals: Andrew Gardner, sr., Mead; Joe Hardy, jr., Seattle Prep; Sumner Goodwin, sr., Lewis & Clark; Andrew Foerder, jr., Nathan Hale; Kai Wilmot, jr., North Central; Tanner Anderson, so., North Central; Jose Macias, jr., Hermiston; John Dressel, so., Mt. Spokane; Austin Oser, sr., Kamiakin; Travis Thorne, sr. Ferris; Nicholas Hauger, jr., Shadle Park.
Local talent: Oser; Macias; Keegan McCormick, jr., Kamiakin; Alejandro Cisneros, jr., Hermiston; Michael Williams, jr., Richland; Seth Deal, sr., Waitsburg-Prescott; Sean Newcomb, sr., Walla Walla; Garrett Kraal, jr., Kamiakin; Ryan Francis, sr., Richland.
All-time top 10: 14:52.03 Anthony Armstrong, Kamiakin, 2011; 14:53 Anthony Armstrong, Kamiakin, 2010; 14:54 Santos Vargas, Eisenhower, 2011; 14:55 Allan Schroeder, Mt. Spokane, 2009; 14:57 Andrew Gonzales, Southridge, 2008; 14:57 Andrew Kimpel, North Central, 2008; 14:57 Vince Hamilton, North Central, 2010; 14:58 Ben Johnston, North Central, 2009; 15:00 Drew O'Donoghue-McDonald, Seattle Prep, 2009; 15:01 Jacob Smith, Wenatchee, 2010.
Girls varsity I: 2:20 p.m.
2011 champs: Jordan McPhee, so., Mt. Rainier (17:35.86); Jackson team.
Top teams: Camas, Richland, Kamiakin, Central Valley, Shadle Park, Lewis & Clark, Mt. Spokane, Cheney, Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls).
Top individuals: McPhee, jr.; Alexa Efraimson, so., Camas; Katie Knight, sr., North Central; Lindsey Bradley, so., Richland; Megan Beauchene, jr., Kamiakin; Alissa Pudlitzke, so., Camas; Maddie Woodson, fr., Camas; Camille Parsons, sr., Camas; Makenna Endebrock, fr., Mt. Spokane; Sanne Holland, sr., Cheney.
Local talent: Bradley; Beauchene; Lauren Perry, jr., Richland; Kinzie Icayan, jr., Richland; Michelle Fletcher, sr., Kamiakin; Courtney Cox, so., Walla Walla; Rachel Nelson, sr., Walla Walla; Emily Kump, so., Southridge; Amy Pfaff, sr., Hanford; Sidney Bullock, so., Richland; Maggie Coleman, sr., Hermiston.
All-time top 10: 17:35 Katie Knight, North Central, 2010; 17:35.86 Jordan McPhee, Mt. Rainier, 2011; 17:37 Andrea Nelson, Shadle Park, 2007; 17:41 Sandra Martinez, Davis, 2008; 17:45 Baylee Mires, Mead, 2008; 17:55 Erin Hegarty, Hanford, 2010; 17:56 Katie Knight, North Central, 2009; 18:00 Erin Hegarty, Hanford, 2009; 18:02 Mayra Chavez, Eisenhower, 2011; 18:04 Lindsey Bradley, Richland, 2011.
Last 10 team champions:
2011: North Central boys; Jackson girls
2010: North Central; Kamiakin
2009: North Central; Richland
2008: North Central; Richland
2007: North Central; Lake Stevens
2006: Mead; West Valley (Yakima)
2005: Mead; Hermiston
2004: Mead; Mead
2003: Kamiakin; Kamiakin
2002: Edmonds-Woodway; Kamiakin
Last 10 individual champions:
2011: Anthony Armstrong, Kamiakin; Jordan McPhee, Mt. Rainier
2010: Anthony Armstrong, Kamiakin; Katie Knight, North Central
2009: Allan Schroeder, Mt. Spokane; Katie Knight, North Central
2008: Andrew Kimpel, North Central; Shawna Schooley, Davis
2007: Joey Bywater, Lake Stevens; Andrea Nelson, Shadle Park
2006: Joey Bywater, Lake Stevens; Andrea Nelson, Shadle Park
2005: Nick Atwood, East Valley (Spokane); Jennifer Macias, Hermiston
2004: Laef Barnes, Mead; Kristen Ballinger, Wenatchee
2003: Chris Rodriguez, Kelso; Selene Isaacson, Lake Washington
2002: Andrew Crane, Davis; Jamie Geissler, Mead