Washington Cross Country Athletes of the Decade
With the start of the next decade of the 21st Century it seems appropriate to reflect on the runners, who stood out over the past ten years. There have been a good deal of runners, who have made the sport more interesting over the years & have put in noteworthy performances. As was done in the previous Oregon article, before looking at the harriers it is best that a few parameters be established. First it should be noted that I am limiting the list to high school runners only, which eliminates both early years as youth runners as well as those runners, who ran in college. For example, although Jessica Pixler has run quite well for Seattle Pacific, that does not impact this list. Secondly attention is being given to those, who race well against runners from other states, so Foot Locker, Nike & Border Clash in particular effect the ranking. As it is far more difficult to qualify for Foot Locker more weight is given to those, who do well at the regional & the national races. A champion normally likes a challenge, so priority is given to those who test themselves against stronger competition. Certainly a state championship is considered but winning is just one thing to consider. One only has to attend the Foot Locker West Regional at Mt. SAC & listen to the litany of state champions, who are introduced, to know that there are champions & there are champions & thus how a champion would fare in another division is another consideration. Time has some meaning but it is not crucial given that weather can have such an impact. Courses & their difficulty makes time of only debatable importance. There was also an attempt to look at those, who had an impact over a longer period, rather than just consider those with a more mercurial impact. Lastly this is a cross country list and therefor track success has no effect here.
Shane Moskowitz leads the way for the guys and there is little doubt that the state saved its best for last in his case. Shane is the only runner in the decade to qualify for the prestigious Foot Locker National championship twice. In 2008 he placed 5th in the West Regional at Mt. SAC and then earned All American honors by finishing 14th in San Diego. His 2009 campaign ended with his 9th place finish at Balboa Park after taking 5th again at the regional. A clue as to his class was that he finished with room to spare at the regional in spite of being not at full strength. He ran three times in the Oregon - Washington Border Clash winning as a senior & placing 2nd as a junior after taking 19th his sophomore year. He is also one of the relatively rare 4A runners to qualify for state all four years. He won State as a senior after taking 2nd, 9th & 44th his previous years. His winning time of 15:06 at Pasco is well ahead of everyone else’s. Last year he also blew away the Fort Steilacoom record of 15:11 set by Rob Webster by five seconds. The Central Kitsap star is the top performer for the decade.
Seattle Prop’s Max McDonoghue-McDonald stands as the number two runner of the decade after winning the 3A state title in both 2006 & 2005. He also placed 4th in 2004 and was 30th as a freshman. His senior year he placed 6th at the Foot Locker West Regional and backed that up with a 15th place effort at nationals. He was also 35th at the West Regional as a junior. Max was victorious in the Border Clash as a senior & was 5th his junior year. That same year saw him take the Jim Danner in 15:08.
Jesse Fayant of Mead only ran two years in the decade but they were noteworthy. He won the State 4A title in 2001 with a time of 15:30 after placing third as a junior. His senior year he ran an impressive 15:32 at Mt. SAC to claim 2nd in the Foot Locker West regional and then finished 10th in the nation at Nationals. Jesse was also 6th in the 2001 Border Clash. Jesse also placed 6th in the Stanford Invitational in 2002.
Robert Baranyi of Jackson did not win a State title yet qualified for state all four years in the 4A division. As a senior in 2004 he ran 15:24 to place 2nd after finishing 9th, 9th & 35th in his earlier years. At Nike Team Nationals he placed third in the slop in 16:02 to earn a trip to the big time and Foot Locker. There in San Diego he ran 15:35 to score an 8th place finish. At Border Clash he was 6th his senior year. He also had the fast time at Sunfair in 2003.
Conner Peloquin of Gig Harbor is a four-time State qualifier despite being a bit overshadowed by his friend Shane Moskowitz. As a freshman he placed 65th before improving to 19th & 13th his next two years. Most years his fine time of 15:22 would have won state but it was Shane’s year. His Border Clash record of three years saw him finish third as a senior after taking 25th & 58th his previous years. He proved he could run with the best by taking 6th at Foot Locker West before placing 29th at Nationals. As a junior he placed 8th at the NTN Northwest Regional to earn a trip to the national team race, where he placed 29th. His senior year also saw impressive triumphs at the loaded fields of Sunfair & Firman, where incidentally in both races he defeated three-time Idaho State Champion Eric Fitzpatrick.
Jake Riley of Sehome won the 2A title in 2006 after placing 3rd & 19th at 3A his junior & sophomore campaigns. At Mt. SAC he earned a trip to Foot Locker Nationals by finishing third and then took 14th in San Diego. He was 4th at Border Clash as a senior after placing 20th as a junior. Jake placed 1st at Sunfair in 2006 with 15:26.
Evan Garber of Mead is another four-time state qualifier & his 15:24 in 2003 was good for a title. In his earlier years he went from 107 to 60 to 4th His senior year saw him challenge the best at Foot Locker West, where earned 5th and a trip to San Diego. He placed 15th at Nationals to cap his career. Evan was also a two-time Border Clash competitor taking 7th as a junior & 10th as a senior.
Michael Kiter is next on the list despite the fact he only ran once in the decade but he was 4A State Champion in 2000. That year he finished sixth at the West Regional of Foot Locker and then at Balboa Park in San Diego he came home in 23rd. He also claimed the laurels at the Oregon - Washington Border Clash.
Tom Wyatt of Charles White was a 2A performer, who could compete with the best from the large schools. He ran a fine 15:38 to win his division at state in 2003 after placing 3rd & 19th the previous years. At Foot Locker West in 2003 he placed 8th and then added a 26th place in the nation. He was also third as a senior in the Border Clash.
Jonathan Lafler is a hard person to place as he never won a state title, yet he made it to state all four years. He was 30th as a freshman and the was 4th as a sophomore before having an off-year as a junior, when he took 16th. The Tahoma star ventured to Mt. SAC as a junior in 2006 and placed 94th but more importantly he scouted out the challenging course. With increased mileage during the summer prior to his senior campaign in 2007 although his 4th at state did not necessarily show it. He traveled to Boise to compete at the NTN Northwest Regional & won the event. At Foot Locker he placed 10th edging Oregon State Champion Bryce Burgess for the final berth to nationals where he took 36th. As a senior he also earned 2nd at the Border Clash after two previous years finishing 21st & 24th. In 2006 he placed 2nd at Sunfair in 15:33.
Miles Unterreiner of Gig Harbor was the state 4A champion in 2007. He also ran at state as a junior & sophomore placing 17th & 52nd respectively. He was also victorious at Border Clash as a senior. Miles ran 15:17 at Mt. SAC to place 5th in the Foot Locker West Regional before finishing 32nd at nationals.
Jeff Helmer of Jackson qualified for state all four years finishing 53rd, 6th, 10th and then winning the 4A title. His Border Clash record was remarkably consistent as he finished 8th twice before taking 6th in 2005 as a senior. As a senior he placed 8th at the West Regional of Foot Locker and then placed 31st at nationals. Jeff was also an integral part of the excellent Danner race in 2005 where he placed 3rd behind Isaac Stoutenburgh & Kenny Klotz, who also joined him at Foot Locker.
After one looks at the records there is not a great distinction between a number of people, yet there are a number of runners who were not too far behind them. Earning Honorable Mention are Andrew Kimpel of North Central, who led his team to NTN twice. He competed at 3A at state from 2006-8 placing 5th & then twice taking 2nd. He placed 2nd in the NTN NW Regional in 2007 & then placed 4th in 2008. In Portland he placed 10th as a junior & 8th as a senior. His three-year Border Clash career saw him take 31st & 15th before winning as a senior.
Carl Moe of Mead claimed a State title in 2003 after placing 15th & 27th his previous two years. He nearly qualified for Foot Locker placing 11th as a senior in 15:57 on the challenging Mt. SAC course. At Border Clash he finished 2nd as a senior & 11th as a junior.
David Kinsella of Mead is also another near Foot Locker qualifier with a 12th place finish in 2003. As a senior he was 2nd at State in 4A after years of 14th & 33rd. At Border Clash he was 2nd in 2003 & 19th in 2002.
Drew O’Donoghue-McDonald (on the left green-white) is another near Foot Locker finalist. He finished 12th in 2008 as a junior at Mt. SAC in a time of 16:20. This year he looked to be in great position, as he was 2nd up the famous “poop out” hill but the West course is very unforgiving and he faded at the end. He used NTN as a tune-up for Foot Locker both years placing 29th & 33rd. In his three year career at State for Seattle Prep he placed 24th, 7th & 2nd at 3A. His Border Clash record is excellent representing Washington well with 3rd & then 2nd place performances.
Ben Johnston of North Central had his best day at the 2009 NTN Northwest Regional, where he won the event. In Portland he claimed 8th. At state in the 3A level he ran 15:15 to claim the title after placing 4th the previous year.
Mack Young of Redmond was a four-time State qualifier placing 102nd in 4A as freshman & then improving to 46th as a sophomore. He upset Shane Moskowitz for the championship in 2008 & then placed 6th in 2009. At Border Clash he finished 8th as a senior. He also claimed the South Whidbey Invitational in 2008.
Taylor Nepon, also from Mead, ran NTN two years placing 36th & then 2nd. The 2005 effort earned him a trip to Foot Locker (those were the years before Nike got greedy & wanted everything) where he placed 36th. At State in 2004 & ’05 he earned 17th & then 6th. At Border Clash he was 18th & then 12th.
Kelly Spady of Kamiak won the 4A State title in 2004 after placing10th & 12th the previous years. He also did not miss qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals by much as he finished 13th as a senior. He ran Border Clash twice taking 31st then 6th.
Mike Miller of Mt. Rainier won the State 3A title in 2008 in a fine time of 15:18. He placed 15th at Foot Locker to make the All-West Third Team. He placed 20th at Border Clash as a senior.
As noted earlier there were scores of athletes, who ran well, and deserved to be considered. Following in not particular order are some of the runners whose records were evaluatted: Mike & Cameron Quackenbush, Chris Lukezic, Matt Owens, Joey Bywater, Leon Dean, Ryan Prentice, Matt Cinchar, Julian Blake-Cowan, Jeff Howard & Matt Frerker. It was a very solid decade for the Washington guys as attested by the fact that they only lost to their Oregon counterparts at Border Clash once in the decade.
Girls of the Decade
As Shane Moskowitz stood at the forefront on the boys’ list two girls stand out especially in my mind: Megan O’ Reilly and Brie Felnagle. Both of these girls had enormous talent not just on a state level but on the national level as well. I remember distinctly chatting with Brie in 2004 & with Megan in 2005 during part of the walk-through at Foot Locker the day prior to the national championship and consciously thinking that they both had solid chances of victory. In both cases a conversation with John Dye reinforced that belief. These two girls were something quite special!
Megan O’ Reilly of Mt. Spokane has a slight edge here as she traveled to San Diego and placed 4th in the nation. That in itself is impressive but one must consider, who placed in front of her. Jordan Hasay won the first of her titles that year (2005) and was followed by Marie Lawrence, who finished second for a record third straight time. Third in the race was defending Foot Locker champion Aislinn Ryan. This was a loaded field! Megan was also an intelligent racer, who at the Regional had held back late in the race. It seemed that should could have given chase to Jordan & Marie late in the race and she admitted that the thought had crossed her mind but the point was to leave something for the national meet. Megan, incidentally, had given FL a go in 2003 and finished 34th. One will always have to wonder about Megan’s high school career like Oregon fans are left to ponder the what-ifs of Alyssa O’ Connor’s star-crossed career. Megan placed 3rd at State in 2003 & lost most of her junior year to injury. Still at the very beginning of that campaign she showed up on a very soggy New Balance course and set a record that has not been challenged even in perfect weather. She also had the second-fastest time at Sunfair of 18:25 (only a Canadian topped her) Her senior campaign she also appeared at the old Jim Danner Invitational, where she won in a stunning 17:12. Megan won the State 4A title naturally .but in a stunning 17:35. She also made her mark at the Border Clash placing 4th in 2003 & then winning as a senior in 2005 in record time.
Brie Felnagle of Bellarmine Prep is a very close second to Megan and this is one of the times that time is a differential. Brie won the Danner impressively in 2004 in a then-record 17:34, which Megan broke he following year. She also won Border Clash as a senior in record time, which Megs again topped the following year. That said there is not much separating these two precocious talents. Brie claimed two 4A state titles giving her an edge there & her time was an impressive 17:53 her senior year. Brie led the powerful 2004 Bellarmine team to the NTN Nationals in 2004, where coach Matt Ellis’ girls placed 4th in the nation. In Portland she placed 2nd in the individual race (note in the race’s 2009 program there is no listing of individual times or records just to show how much the company cares about individuals but for the record …) behind Ramsay Kaven. That year, incidentally, was the year that Saratoga qualified an incredible four runners (Nicole Blood, Hannah Davidson, Lindsay Ferguson & Caitlin Lane by way of true regional qualifying and even the Fayetteville-Manlius team of 2009 could not have done that), so Brie’s place is truly impressive. Those were the days when the Beaverton company cooperated a bit with others, so Brie earned a trip to Foot Locker nationals. Unfortunately running the mud-bowl & jumping hay bales has taken a toll on numerous runners, so Brie came into Foot Locker Nationals a bit compromised. In San Diego she came home an impressive 6th. Brie also had an excellent Border Clash record taking 2nd as a junior & then 1st as a senior. Her time was a record at the time. One last race should also be included here & that was the 2004 Sunfair race, where former Foot Locker champion Zoe Nelson came to town and set yet another record, yet as good as she was Zoe was well behind Brie’s time of 17:11.
Jamie Gessler of Mead was a three-time state qualifier, who improved from 7th as a sophomore to 5th & then 4th as a senior. She was also willing to challenge the nation’s best & proved it by making three trips to Foot Locker’s West regional. In 2000 she could place but 82nd and then improved to 19th. As a senior she knew the challenges of the Mt. SAC course and qualified for Nationals by finishing 8th. At Balboa Park she zipped home in a fine time of 17:53 to finish 11th in the nation. She had truly saved her best for last. Jamie also finished 2nd in the Lava Bear Invitational, which at the time had one of the best fields in the nation. Gessler was also a two-time Border Clash runner, who was 6th in 2001 & then 2nd in 2002.
Maddie Meyers of The Northwest School is a young runner, who still has two years to add to her resume, which is already impressive. She has won the 1A title both years and her time of 18:01 (2nd overall for all levels) makes it obvious she can compete with ‘most everyone. She did not run Border Clash as a freshman but finished 6th last year. Maddie ran in the NTN NW regional in Boise, where she placed 12th & was timed in 18:35 on the challenging Eagle Island course. At Walnut Maddie became just the 4th Washington girl this decade to qualify for Foot Locker by placing 7th in the West regional in a time of 18:23. She proved that she truly belonged among the nation’s elite by finishing 23rd in one of the strongest fields of young ladies in history. Her time of 18:13 on Balboa Park’s slick course was a fine one as well.
Alyssa Andrews is fifth on this list & part of that is based a bit on faith, as fate intervened at the worst t ime, but let us first look at her statistics. The Gig Harbor gazelle won the State title in 2007 & 2008 & her time as a senior was 18:00. She placed 5th in 2008 at Border Clash on a short & basically flat course that hardly suited her abilities to go the route & devour hills. She had a solid senior campaign placing 2nd at Sunfair & 2nd at Stanford. At Stanford she lost to Molly Grabill & defeated Megan Morgan, who would later both earn Foot Locker trips. She also won at South Whidbey in 18:00. She really showed her abilities in Boise, where she won the NTN NW regional in a time of 17:58. She was the first girl to break 18:00 on the Eagle Island course. One had to feel sorry for her as well after the race, when she had to resist the repeated pressure from Nike officials to run in Portland. Now one never can know for sure in XC and certainly on a demanding course as Mt. SAC things are hardly written in stone but Alyssa ran the course the day before & felt great! Who ever could guess that in little more than half a day, she would be so sick that she could not jog through the introductions without getting dizzy. Still I firmly believe, as did he fine coach Patty Ley, that she was primed to qualify, yet we can never know for sure. Still it seems, that save poor fortune, Alyssa would have been a Foot Locker finalist.
Stephanie Marcy of Sequim is next on the list. She was a finalist at the 3A level from 2003 to 2005 placing 14th, 8th & 2nd respectively. As a senior she won the 2A State title with a time of 18:28. Stephanie ran Border Clash three time placing 19th & 9th prior to winning the event in 2006. Not afraid to compete with the best she went to Foot Locker, where she placed 20th as a junior & then came home 9th as a senior. Today a 9th place finish would have qualified her for the National meet but that year the West (and only the West) qualified eight runners with two more runners being allowed to come out of the NTN National meet. Given that those two girls (Sarah Cummings & Shelby Buckley) then went on to place 37th & 39th out of 40 in San Diego, Stephanie would appear to have gotten slighted.
Andrea Nelson of Shadle Park was a four-time state qualifier. She competed on the 4A level her first two years placing 2nd & then 1st in 20006 & 2007. Her times of 18:16 & 18:26 respectively are quite credible. As a junior the school was moved to the 3A division & she won there with a time of 18:25. This year back on the 4A level she placed 4th in 18:37. Andrea did not compete in the Border Clash, as it is held on Sunday, but she did make the effort to compete against the best heading to Foot Locker West from 2006-8, where she placed 42nd, 15th & then 15th. This last year she moved to NTN and placed 7th in the Northwest in a time of 18:30. That earned her a trip to Portland, where she took 21st in 18:21. All in all quite a solid career.
It should be noted that the next few young ladies were very difficult to separate and probably in a different frame of mind they could be ranked differently and there are numerous reasons to argue slightly differently but that said…
Nicole Cochran of Bellarmine Prep was a four-time qualifier at the 4A state level. She finished 4th, 5th, 3rd & 8th from 2004-7. Her freshman & sophomore years she placed 2nd at the Jim Danner, when the meet had a very strong field. Her times of 17:35 for both years were obviously solid. In 2006 she won both the Northwest Classic (18:05) & the Puma Bend Meet (18:16) As a freshman in 2004 she joined senior Brie Felnagle to the NTN meet, where she contributed a 24th place finish to aid in the team’s 4th place national team effort. In 2006 she competed at Foot Locker West placing 53rd in an off day. She was a participant all four years of her high school career at Border Clash earning 10th, 14th & 3rd before winning the title in 2007. With that she decided to end the long season on a positive note, so we can only guess how she would have fared at Foot Locker but hers was a very solid career.
Kenna Patrick of Jackson placed 8th & then 9th at the 4A level before claiming the title in 2006 as a senior. Her time of 18:13 was impressive as well. As a three-time competitor at Border Clash she finished 33rd,,21st & 2nd. As a senior she placed 24th at the Foot Locker Northwest Regional.
Kayla Evans, also from Bellarmine, was often overshadowed by her team mate Nicole Cochran but hers was a formidable presence in any race she entered. She earned 4th at State as a junior & then scored a runner-up finish in 2007. She was 2nd at Bend in 2006 & at Border Clash she contributed to the Washington cause by garnering 7th & then third. Kayla challenged the West’s best placing 45th in 2006 & 19th in 2007. It should be noted that her senior year due to inclement weather the traditional Mt SAC course was not utilized and they ran on an alternate course, which was more of a road race. There is no question the normal course was quite dangerous, but as a quality hill runner, Kayla chances were decreased. Still she was not far removed from qualifying.
Sandra Martinez of A C Davis was another, who at times was over-shadowed by others but, when you look at the overall opus of her career, one has to take note. Competing at the 4A level she finished 44th 7th & 3rd before taking 2nd as a senior in 2008 in a time of 18:20. She was 6th in a loaded 2008 Sunfair with 18:34 & she ran twice at Border Clash: 19th as a sophomore & 11th as a senior. She was also 2nd on the South Whidbey course in ’08. Her final year she competed in the NTN Northwest Regional placing 4th at Eagle island in a time of 18:16. That earned her a trip to Portland, where she finished 8th overall in a time of 18:08.
Baylee Mires of Mead is a runner with a career that has had to deal with injury, so she probably has never had the proper base mileage in her high school career. Still, when she is right, she is a real force. She won the top flight at Sunfair in 2008 with a time of 17:59 & was 5th in the event this year. Her senior year marked her only time at State and she placed 5th in 18:37. That earned her a trip to Border Clash, where she had an off day taking 18th. What makes Baylee so intriguing are her trips to Foot Locker where she has been so close to qualifying for nationals. In 2008 Baylee was 14th & in 2009 she took 12th in 18:45 & was just two places from a berth to San Diego.
There are so many athletes, who have contributed to our sport and just a few of note follow here. Ruby Roberts of Kingston is another of our four-time qualifiers at State. She placed 13th in 4A in 2006 & then won 2A in 2007 in 18:39. She was 2nd in 2A in 2008 (18:34) & then won 2A again last year in a fine 18:06. In her two years at Border Clash she placed 17th & 16th respectively. In her junior & senior campaigns she ventured to Boise for NTN, where she took 14th in 2008 & 9th in 2009. She also traveled to Walnut, Ca., where she placed a very respectable 18th at Foot Locker West in a time of 18:52.
Amy-Eloise Neale had a fine freshman campaign & won the state 3A last year. Her time of 18:08 was solid. She finished 3rd at Sunfair in 18:16 and then was 4th at NTN NW in 18:19. In Portland she took 14th in 18:11. Down the road it will be interesting to follow her career & one can only hopes that she will challenge the nation’s best at Foot Locker.
Anna Daley ran a stunning 17:58 to win the 4A State title yet was only 7th at Sunfair. With out challenging the best it is hard to place her higher on the list.
Annie Moore of Sehome is anther of our four-year qualifiers. Racing at the 2A level she finished 3rd, 2nd, 9th and 4th. Her Border Clash from 2006 & ’07 saw her score 14th & 9th. Of course Annie’s race against Bronwyn Crossman her freshman year deserves special recognition in its own right.
Jessica Pixler of Eastlake placed 2nd at 4A in 2005 with a fine time of 18:10. She added a 2nd place effort at Border Clash. Of course, if this list was not limited to high school statistics, her college record would make things much different.
Jessie McLaughlin of Olympia ran only two years in the decade yet she placed 5th & then 1st at 4A. her time of 18:20 as a senior of 18:20 is also creditable. We should note she was 3rd in 1999 and at Border Clash as a senior she won the title. Sadly she does not have a record beyond the region to assess.
Bronwyn Crossman of Squalicum placed 15th at the state 3A level in 2004 & then finished 4th. She claimed victory as a junior & then a senior with times of 18:44 & 18:46. As noted she won at New Balance in 2006 (18:22). She was pretty consistent at Border Clash in her four years taking 10th, 8th 5th & then 7th. She also won at South Whidbey in 2005.
Bobeya Krishnek of Mt. Baker also ran two years in the decade & placed 4th in 2A in 2000 before winning the title in 2001 in a solid 18:22. She challenged the West’s best at Foot Locker placing 31st on the Mt. SAC course..
Amanda Miller of Eastmont ran three years at the 3A level winning the state title in her first attempt in 18:29. The following two years she placed 3rd (18:37) & 4th (18:41). She added a Border Clash title in 2002 after placing 5th the previous year.
Amber Nickelson of Lake Stevens improved from 15th in 2001 (19:42) to 1st in 2002 (18:26) & then slipped back to 5th the following year (18:46) At Border Clash in 2002 & ’03 she placed 3rd & then 16th respectively.
Becca Noble of Rogers earned a trip to State three times placing 40th in 2002 & then 9th in 2003. She had the misfortune of running against Brie Felnagel & Stephanie Sipes as a senior but she finished ahead of Nicole Cochran with a time of 18:39. At Foot Locker West she placed 54th in 2004 after finishing 90th in 2003.
Ashlee Vincent of Squalicum placed only 9th at state in 2000 but then headed down to test the waters at Foot Locker, where she placed 24th in the West.
Jode Adams-Moore of Newport-Bellevue won the 3A state title in 2000 after taking 2nd the previous year. She ran a time of 18:36 as a senior & topped off her campaign with a victory at Border Clash.
Meredith Crane of A C Davis placed 2nd in 4A both in 2000 & 2001 with times of 199:54 & 18:29. She mixed it up at Foot Locker West in 2001 placing 20th in a time of 18:54.
Other runners considered to name a few were Kateryn Knight, Amanda Stopa, Stephanie Sipes, Annie Dear, Kesslee Payne, Laura Hogdson, Amanda Adams, Kara Sporrong, Sarah Lord & Amanda Andrews.