I thought I would take a walk down memory lane and highlight some of the great performances of the last decade. These are performances I witnessed, I am sure there are others but these standout in my memory.
2002 State Track 3200: Jessie Fayant vs. Chris Lukezic
Fayant eked out the two second victory over the future U.S. Champion in cross-country the previous fall. The first night of the Star Track 2002, Lukezic was able to get revenge by picking up the narrow 1600 victory and setting up the rubber match the next night in the 3200. Fayant had developed a quick start style were he blistered the first few laps near 60 seconds. He employed this style at State and quickly jumped to a huge lead. Lukezic was patient and slowly closed the gap and took the lead pulling to a good sized lead himself in the last lap. Fayant battled back in the last lap and sprinted the final 100 meters to out lean Lukezic for the .17 victory.
2003 State Track 3200: Megan O’Reilly vs. Jamie Geissler
Geissler took the lead at the start of 3200 and raced with purpose and focus. She had been out kicked my O’Reilly in previous races and hoped break the youngster earlier in the race. Lap after lap she led and continued to surge without success. O’Reilly sat comfortably on the senior’s shoulder and did not attempt to help set the pace. In the last lap Geissler gave it everything she had to get away but the freshman prevailed with a four second victory.
2005 Distict/Regionals: 3200 These two races were nearly identical and both dramatic.
Districts: Ferris’s Robert Crosby took the early lead; Sean Coyle joined a pack of Mead runners (Barnes, Nepon, Gimple, and Hatcher) and Ferris’s Steve Olson to give chase. With about 150 meters to go everyone started kicking. Sean pulled around the Mead boys to go after Crosby. He passed Robert with about 70 meters to go and pulled away from the pack just barely. Olson finished 2nd, and Cosby held on for 3rd. The top eight runners were a few seconds apart.
The next week at Regionals the race was almost identical except that Cummings from IKE took the lead and never looked back and the Mead boys keyed of Sean the entire Race; they tried to box him in coming down the final straight. Sean stepped on the inside of the track and out kicked them again. The Ferris boys out kicked the Mead boys as well to qualify for State. Second (Cummings won easily) through sixth place were 1.37 seconds apart.
2005 State Track: Ben Poffenroth 800 – 1600 double
Poff was able to pick up the rare distance double (800 – 1600), which had not been done since 1973. The 800 was victory was very dramatic with Poff catching and out-leaning Jimmy Schofield from Bethel winning by .04 seconds. He threw his arms out as he leaned and nearly got disqualified.
2005 State Track: Beeca Noble 400 – 800 double
Noble focused on the 400 in previous years but added the 800 in 05, which forced a showdown between her and Brie Felnagle the 04 champion. Noble got the narrow victory in the 800 by .73 seconds setting a meet record. Noble also set a meet record in the 400 and Felnagle set a meet record in the 1600.
2006 State Track: Megan O’Reilly 3200
O’Reilly now a senior had been on a tear throughout the winter and spring. During the winter she ran the third best indoor 5K for a high-school athlete. She continued her record setting season by running a Washington All Time Best in the 3200 at State with a 10:05.81.
2009 Region/State: 3A 3200
At Regionals the North Central trio of Andy Kimpel, Ben Johnston, and Jeff Howard put on an even-pace clinic churning out 67s (9:00 pace) for most of the race going after the automatic qualifying mark of 9:13.67. Shadle’s Nathan Wetiz and Mt. Spo’s Allan Schroeder joined the NC boys. Howard dropped off mid-way as the pressure continued from Kimpel and Johnston. Weitz was able to slip under the qualifying mark at 9:13.12 while Schroder just missed it at 9:14.37.
The next week at State, Kimpel and Johnston employed the same even pace strategy with Weitz in tow. The GSL trio finished 1-2-3.
2002, 2003, 2004 State Cross: Mead vs. Ferris vs. Ike
The three nationally ranked teams spent three years beating each other at different meets throughout the seasons. Ike won the East Region Championships all three years but a GSL team prevailed at State each of those three years. The concluding battle was the inaugural NXN in Portland with the Panthers placing 3rd, the Cadets 9th, and the Saxons 13th.
Mead and Ferris both participated in the first two years of Nike Team Nationals (NXN now) with great success. Mead earned 3rd and 4th place finishes, while the Saxons 13th and 10th. During the 06 campaign both schools were ranked #1 in the Super 25 at different points during the season. The Saxons won their fourth straight State title while Mead finished second. The season culminated with both schools finishing in the top 5 (Ferris – 3rd, Mead – 5th) at NTN.
2007 GSL Duals: NC, Mead, Ferris and CV – “Meet of the Century”
In 2006, Ferris, Mead and CV went 1-2-3 in the 4A race and North Central won the 3A race. Fate, in the name of the random selection process, pitted these four teams in one mega dual meet at Ferris High School. NC, Mead, and CV all returned ranked teams while Ferris fielded a younger squad. Hundreds of people made the trip up to the south hill including NC’s band to see the battle. NC prevailed in the early season meet while CV finished second beating Mead and Ferris for the first time in GSL dual meet history.
2008 Cross: North Central – National Champions
NC Started the season as the pre-season #1 in the Super 25. They continued to win going undefeated that season. The 08 State performance ranks as one of the best in Washington’s history rivaling the 92 – 93 Mead teams. They won the 08 NXN title in dramatic fashion with one of the runners losing their timing chip, which gave the appearance that missed the top spot.
2008 4A State Cross: Mead keeps streak alive, Ferris comes through in the post season
While NC, a 3A team, dominated the league and the nation in 2008, the 4A title appeared to be up for grabs by a west side team. Mead was the early favorite to defend their title but faltered at the Richland Invite finishing 56 points behind west side rival Jackson. Going into the State Meet Jackson was the favorite to win and thus bringing the 21 year GSL streak to and end. The Panthers however, rose the occasion as they have many times before. They edged Jackson by 8 points. The surprising Saxons finished 3rd just 4 points out of 2nd and 12 out of first. Mid-way through the 08 season Ferris was in jeopardy on not having a winning season. However October was a different story for the Saxons. They made an unprecedented run finishing 5th in the GSL dual meet standings then 3rd at State.
2009 Cross: Ferris vs. NC
Once again the GSL supported two nationally ranked teams, which hooked-up for a dual meet mid-season. Ferris was the pre-season #1 team in nation while NC was 18th ranked and defending NXN champions. North Central won the Tracy Walters invite over Ferris using 7-man scoring but Ferris would have prevailed if traditional 5-man scoring was used. Trash talking on both sides dominated the internet. Ferris jumped to an early lead in the dual at Audubon but NC battled back in the second mile to pull within 1. The Saxons pulled away from their NC counter parts in the last mile to earn the 3-point victory.
The dual victory only fueled the fire of the trash talking. The two teams locked horns again at the GSL championships with Ferris earning the victory in a sixth-man tie breaker. At Regionals and State NC had run faster times than Ferris. North Central earned a 9 point victory at NXN Northwest. The battled concluded at NXN with Ferris finishing second just missing the title by six points and NC finishing seventh.
2009 Cross: Shadle Park Highlanders
New comers Kendra Weitz, and Chelsea Chandler joined the defending champion Andrea Nelson and Katie Morris to make the Highlanders a nationally ranked team, most of the season they were ignored while Glacier Peak received the press. Shadle cruised to victories in GSL competition. The two teams didn’t meet until State where Shadle prevailed winning the title. They continued their winning ways over GP the next week at NXN Northwest.