Saturday’s 48th annual Richland Invitational cross country meet at Carmichael Middle School will honor the person that started it all.
The meet has been renamed the Max Jensen Richland Invitational. Jensen, who was Richland High School’s first cross country coach, began the Richland Invite in 1969.
Jensen guided the Bombers to three consecutive state titles from 1970-72 — part of a then-record five championships in a row. He twice was named the WIAA cross country coach of the year.
Jensen later coached at Spokane Community College and Ferris High School. In 1994, he was inducted into the Washington State Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame. He still lives in Spokane.
“We’re going to have Max hand out some awards at the end of the meet,” Richland coach Jay Bartlett said. “It should be a pretty cool thing for everybody.”
About 2,400 runners and 70 teams are expected at Saturday’s meet.
Richland sophomore Riley Moore could have a big day on his home course. Last year, he finished 11th at the Richland Invite and 10th at the Class 4A state cross country meet in Pasco.
Moore’s biggest competition in the Division I race includes Mt. Spokane’s Hayden Dressel, Moscow’s Josh Corgatelli, Eisenhower’s Ronan Price, Jackson’s Matthew Watkins and Gonzaga Prep’s Turlan Morlan. Those five runners placed in the top 10 last year in Richland.
Others to watch, according to Bartlett:
▪ Ferris’ Amir Ado, who has the top 3-mile time in the state this year (15 minutes, 1.5 seconds).
▪ Deer Park’s Cody Bollum, the fourth-place finisher at the 2015 1A state cross country meet.
▪ North Central’s Jacob Christner, who was 19th at last year’s 3A state meet.
▪ Bellarmine Prep’s Cameron Wyman, who was second among Division II runners at last year’s Richland Invite. He placed fourth in the 4A 1,600 at the 2016 state track and field meet in Tacoma.
College Place’s Kenneth Rooks, the 2015 1B/2B state cross country champ, will be in the Division I field as well.
Last year, Eisenhower won the Division I team title by four points over North Central, which later claimed its 10th consecutive 3A state crown. Selah took the Division II championship.
Kamiakin, which has been second to North Central at state the past four years, will run its younger kids in Richland. But the Braves’ top runners will sit this one out.
“The varsity boys need a week to recover from Sunfair,” Kamiakin coach Matt Rexus said.
Walla Walla’s Erika Leinweber, last year’s 4A district champion, will be on the Carmichael course along with Moriah Duenich of 1A Deer Park and Katie Thronson of 4A Lewis & Clark. Duenich and Thronson finished fifth in their respective state meets last year. Duenich was third in the Division I girls race in Richland as a junior last year.
Others to watch:
▪ Richland’s Katie Andrus, who took second to Leinweber at the Mid-Columbia Conference league meet Sept. 22.
▪ Eisenhower’s Erica Simison, the Gold Varsity Division winner at the Fort Steilacoom Invitational on Sept. 17.
▪ Gonzaga Prep’s Natalie Schwartzenberger, who was 37th at last year’s 4A state cross country meet.
▪ Riverside-Chattaroy’s Lizzy Shaw, who finished fourth among No. 1 runners at last weekend’s Sunfair Invite in Yakima.
▪ The Hanford and Kamiakin teams. The Falcons placed first at the Seaport and Wenatchee invites, and they defeated the Braves in the MCC league meet. Kamiakin is the defending 3A MCC district and regional champion, and the Braves were seventh at last year’s 3A state cross country meet. But their No. 1 runner, Mckinzi Teeples, is out for the year because of a broken foot.
State-ranked Lewis & Clark and Mead also could factor into things.
Bellarmine Prep beat Kamiakin for the Division I team title at the 2015 Richland Invite, while Pullman was the Division II winner.
Saturday’s Richland Invite races
3-mile citizens race, 9 a.m.; 0.5-mile kids race, 9:45 a.m.; 2.5-mile open wheelchair, 10 a.m.; 2-mile middle school boys, 10 a.m.; 2-mile middle school girls, 10:30 a.m.; 3-mile frosh/soph boys, 11 a.m.; 3-mile junior/senior boys, 11:40 a.m.; 3-mile junior varsity girls, 12:15 p.m.; 3-mile Division II boys, 12:55 p.m.; 3-mile Division II girls, 1:20 p.m.; 3-mile Division I boys, 1:55 p.m.; 3-mile Division I girls, 2:30 p.m.