Ask a track and field fan who the best girls distance runner in the state is, and they will likely offer you three names.Alexa Efraimson, Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight.
It’s time a fourth name should be rolled off the tongue, though.
Kamiakin’s Megan Beauchene is quickly entering the conversation as one of the state’s best.
She has the 10th fastest 800-meter run in the country this year, the 25th best 1,600 time and has beaten North Central’s Knight twice in the 800 and once in the 1,500.
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Now, she plans on asserting herself even further and on the big stages that are the regional and state meets.
“My freshman year I was just so frustrated that I had to run against them because I felt like I would never be up there with them,” Beauchene said. “But then I kind of decided that I’d use it to push myself and to elevate myself to that level.”
She hopes to compete at that high level the next two weeks, including today and Saturday at the Class 3A Eastern Washington Regional meet at Spokane Falls Community College. The top two in each event advance to the state meet the following week in Tacoma.
Beauchene will face off with Knight this weekend before seeing Glacier Peak’s Neale next weekend. Knight and Neale are both going to the University of Washington on track and field scholarships.
“(Megan) knows who her competition is, that is her drive I think,” Kamiakin head track and field coach Cheryl Schauble said. “She has something she wants to get — she wants to beat Glacier Peak. That is the challenge and she loves the challenge. That is what is cool about her. Some kids get scared of it, but Megan thrives on it a lititle bit.”
After last season’s strong performance at state, which saw her finish third in the 800, second in the 1,600 and second in the 4x400 relay, Beauchene decided to quit playing soccer in the fall and add cross country.
She did two-a-days during the summer and ran nonstop through the fall.
“We’ve always known that she had very high ability, a very high ceiling,” said Kamiakin cross country coach Matt Rexus. “But I believe cross country has taken her to the next step. Having that major endurance base, I really believe it has put her over the top and given her a ton of extra confidence.”
And the confidence is the biggest key for Beauchene. Believing she belongs in races with top-flight competition has helped her this season.
In the past, Beauchene had proven she could hang with the state’s best in the 800 — but never in the 1,500 or 1,600.So going into the Lake Washington Invitational on April 27, Rexus, who also is the distance coach for the track and field team, wanted her to just make sure she stayed with that front group.
All four went ahead of the pack and stayed together until the final 250 meters. Efraimson, who runs for 4A Camas, won in 4:24.7. Neal was second in 4:26.52 and Beauchene third in 4:27.93. Knight took fourth in 4:29.54.
A clear message was sent not only to the competition, but also to the Kamiakin junior that she belongs.
Now she hopes it translates with a trip to the top of the podium in Tacoma.
“Everyone always says, ‘You are fine, you’ll get it next year,’ ” Beauchene said of winning her first state title. “But I really want to do it this year to prove I can against these girls.”