BY KEENAN GRAY, THE RUNNER
The finish we had at the end of the 2019 state cross country meet showed signs of what would have been a competitive track season for distance runners. From record-breaking performances to shocking upsets, this group of young women always put on a show when it came to racing against each other.
Because the 2020 Washington high school spring sports season has been canceled (COVID-19), these teenagers won’t have a chance to run this season. But they deserve to be recognized. Here’s a look at the top 15 girls distance runners coming into the 2020 season.
TOP 15 GIRLS DISTANCE RUNNERS
Allie Janke, North Central, Jr.
Allie Janke competed in only two races this past fall and one of them was winning the 3A state cross country individual title — and she hadn’t run all season. Back in the spring, Janke was the 3A state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter races running personal best times of 4:43.6 and 10:10.83.
Julia David-Smith, Issaquah, Jr.
Julia David-Smith has had the most success out of any runner in the state of Washington, both boy or girl, after earning All-American honors in cross country and winning the 4A state cross country title. In her sophomore track season, David-Smith won the 4A 1,600 and 3,200 meter state races while running personal best times of 4:50.35 and 10:21.15. She also ran a personal best time of 2:13.01 in the 800 meter.
Naomi Smith, King’s, Sr.
Last school year was a historical season for Naomi Smith as she won the cross country, 1,600 and 3,200 meter state titles to claim the distance triple crown, becoming the first to do so since former Northwest standout Maddie Meyers back in 2012 at the 1A level. The University of Washington commit ran personal best times in track in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 meter races, running 2:20.95, 4:53.76, and 10:25.5.
Ella Nelson, Walla Walla, Sr.
From her freshman to sophomore season, Ella Nelson dropped her 1,600 meter time by 20 seconds and was last year’s runner-up at the 4A state meet. Nelson also ran a season best time of 2:15.99 in the 800 meter and finished in third place at state in the 3,200 meter running a time of 10:45.98.
Ella Borsheim, Bellarmine Prep, So.
After winning the 4A state cross country title her freshman year, Ella Borsheim continued her success in the spring where she placed second and third at the 4A state track meet in the 800 and 1,600 meter races, running 2:12.93, a second off her personal best, and 4:57.01, a personal best. She also ran the 3,200 meter in a personal best mark of 11:00.23.
Aviry Stratton, Glacier Peak, Sr.
Aviry Stratton placed fourth — after having placed 19th as a junior — at the 4A state cross country meet in the fall, running a season best time of 18:26.7. During track, Stratton was sixth in the 1,600 meter, running 5:04.49 and fifth in the 3,200 meter, running 10:55.26. Earlier, the Southern Utah University commit ran personal best times of 4:56.15 for the 1,600 and 10:38.39 in the 3,200.
Meri Dunford, Prairie, Sr.
Meri Dunford can do it all, both on the track and the basketball court. The three-sport athlete was the runner-up last spring in the 1,600 meter 3A state final as she ran a personal best time of 4:54.99, over 10 seconds faster from her sophomore season time. She also was third in the 3,200 meter state final and ran a personal best time of 10:52.21.
Erinn Hill, North Central, Sr.
Erinn Hill will go down as one of the most decorated athletes in North Central’s cross country history. Hill, who will run for the University of Wisconsin-Madison next fall, made her third state track meet appearance in 2019, placing fourth in the 1,600 meter running 5:01.94 and second in the 3,200 meter running a season best time of 10:42.73.
Geraldin Correa, Kennewick, Sr.
Geraldin Correa has tremendous speed and her ability to out-kick her opponents is scary for anyone who races her. It was a tough ending for Correa last track season as she wasn’t able to get out of the state preliminary rounds in the 400 and 800 meter races, but the Lewis & Clark State College commit has personal best times of 57.94 in the 400 meter, 2:12.89 in the 800 meter, and 5:01.34 in the 1,600 meter.
Kate Jendrezak, Eastside Catholic, Sr.
On the national level, Kate Jendrezak is one of the best mid-distance runners around. The future UCLA Bruin entered her senior season as a three-peat 3A state champion in the 800 meter with a personal best time of 2:09.71.
Sarah Mirkin, Holy Names, Sr.
Sarah Mirkin was a main factor in Holy Names’ 3A state team title for track last spring with her great performances in the 800 and 1,600 meter races. Mirkin was third in the 800 meter running 2:14.78, a second off her personal best, and fifth in the 1,600 meter running a personal best time of 5:03.33.
MaryAlice Mitchell, Washington, So.
MaryAlice Mitchell won the 2A 800 meter state final as a freshman in a personal best time of 2:14.08 after starting the year out at 2:28.3 in her first meet. She was also fourth in the 1,600 meter in another personal best time of 5:03.7.
Leah Holmgren, Ellensburg, Sr.
It had been the start of a historical year for Leah Holmgren as she went on to win the 2A state cross country individual title this past fall running a time of 18:16.4, leading the Bulldogs to their first-ever cross country state team title. The future Idaho Vandal was sixth in the 1,600 meter and fifth in the 3,200 meter at the 2019 2A state track meet, running personal best times of 5:03.85 and 10:57.38.
Lauren Larson, Port Angeles, Sr.
Lauren Larson was among a small group of athletes at all classifications to place in the top three at the state meet in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 meter races. Larson was second in the 800 and 3,200 meter, running times of 2:14.47 and 10:54.11, and third in the 1,600 meter, running a time of 5:03.04 at the 2019 2A state meet.
Lili Hargreaves, Redmond, Jr.
Lili Hargreaves was the leader of Redmond’s first-ever state girls cross country championship this last fall. Last spring, Hargreaves ran personal best times at the 4A state meet. She ran 5:05.42 and placed eighth in the 1,600 meter and she ran 10:53.79 and placed fourth in the 3,200 meter.