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Interlake girls, Bellevue boys primed for return to state | Prep Cross Country Preview

After a fourth place finish at state in 2010, the Interlake cross country team knew it had to do find a new challenge during the summer. Coach Brad Barquist had exactly what they were looking for.

Six days a week during the summer, an average of 25 varsity runners gathered to cut into the 60 miles per week Barquist set as their goal.

"It was a real adjustment," junior captain Ellie Tansley said. "In the beginning, everyone was like 'there is no way we can do this', and then we settled in."

All the work over the summer looks to be paying off for the Saints, who finished second to defending 2A state champion Sehome at the first meet of the season. The meet used a modified scoring system, but had the meet been scored as a regular season or playoff meet, Interlake would have won going away.

"The girls especially looked great," Barquist said of the season opener. "They showed they are one of the top teams in the state."

The only loss from last season's top seven was Brooke Niemann, but Barquist and fellow head coach Jamie Hoeger have an infusion of new talent to fill the departed senior's role. That group includes California transplant Pleres Choi, fellow junior Nadia Lucas, Niki Waghani and the younger of the Tansley sisters, freshman Antoinette.

The Saints also bring back senior captain Summer Hanson (pictured with Waghani), who won the 2A state title in the 800 meters in the spring and was the highest finisher for Interlake (14th) at state in 2010.

"I feel really confident in our team right now because of how hard we are working," Hanson said.

"Focused" Bellevue boys after 3A title

Despite injuries, illness and losing a runner to the Sounders FC academy team, the Bellevue boys are ready for another run to the 3A state meet in 2011.

The Wolverines return five of the seven runners they sent to state in 2010, missing only departed senior Phillip Matthews and junior Ryan Harber, who was selected to play with the developmental Sounders FC squad.

"It's a dream come true for him," head coach John Hill said of Harber joining the Sounders organization.

Even without Harber and Matthews, Bellevue still has what looks to be the deepest and most experienced team in 3A KingCo. Will Sheeran, Nick Maclean, Addison Woolsey, Ryan Long and John Fowler all ran at state last season and were the driving force behind a league championship and second place finish at districts. Bellevue finished fourth at the state meet, the third consecutive season the team has earned a state trophy.

"There is a certain baton that's being passed from one group to the next," Hill said. "It's kind of a natural expectation, [state] is where we want to end our season." Hill's team has plenty of depth with 98 boys and 46 girls and each got a first hand look at the defending 3A state champions from North Central (Spokane) in the first meet of the season. Despite the flu bug that swept through the team, Hill said he was pleased with the performance of both the boys and girls in the opener and is excited to have such an experienced group leading the way in 2011.

"There is a great thing to be said about experience," Hill said. "The next step is how you improve upon that experience."

The Wolverines will have plenty of opportunities to continue building towards a state championship with conference foe Mercer Island (seventh at state in 2010) and district opponents Seattle Prep (third) and Bishop Blanchet (sixth). But believes his team has put itself in prime position to contend.

"These guys have been training really hard and are really focused," Hill said. "I think the guys and girls can both accomplish that [contending at state] if things go the way we hope they will."

Capsules

Sammamish

Head coaches: Carrie Holmes, Jed Danielsen Key returners: Laynee Viniotis, senior; Liz Green, senior; Pascal De Sa E Silva, freshman; Nick Martin, freshman; Alex Marvick, senior; Tommy Danielsen, senior; Hank Tea, senior; Zanwar Faraj, junior.

2011 outlook: Led by a strong senior class headlined by 2010 state participant Laynee Viniotis, Sammamish hopes to make some noise in 2011 with a team that has doubled in size in the span of a year.

In their own words: "We have an awesome returning group and great new freshman. We're really excited about this season and our growing program." - Girls head coach Carrie Holmes.

Newport

Head coaches: Caryn Heffernan, Cliff NixonKey returners: Grant Stein, junior; Chris Chamberland, junior; Mat Gabel, senior; Nick Taylor, junior; James Hamilton, sophomore; Jordan Harris, junior; Kye Dipboye, freshman; Daniel Smith, junior; Jessica Spray, junior; Alisa Poplawski, senior; Michelle Altizer, junior; Allison Lee, freshman; Venecia Xu, senior.

2011 outlook: The Knights qualified only one runner for the state meet in 2010, as Jessica Spray was the lone runner to make the cut. The girls hope to send accompaniment with Spray this season while Newport's boys have their sights set on the district meet in 2011, a place they have not been in five years.

In their own words: "We're a lot better than last year,"- Boys head coach Cliff Nixon. "The big goal is to go back to state, they've got the potential to do it."- Girls head coach Caryn Heffernan

Bellevue Christian

Coach: Ed Sloan

Key returning runners: Isabella Chaffey, sophomore; Bree Oldham, senior; Noelle Crosby, junior; Val Montag, senior; Alison King, senior; Daniel Nortz, junior.

2011 outlook: The Vikings finished eighth at the 1A girls state meet in 2010 and will run with a six person team in 2011. Those who are present will not lack for winning experience with Oldham and Crosby playing a major role in the school’s 1A state title three-peat in girls track and field.  On the boys side, the Vikings will have an inexperienced group and not a single senior, though Sloan is excited for the prospects of his freshmen and a handful of soccer players. BCS will play boys soccer in the spring in 2011.

In their own words: “All [six girls] have two-plus years of experience and the team is aiming for a top four finish.”- Head coach Ed Sloan

The Bellevue boys (third), Interlake girls (second) and Bellevue Christian girls (fifth) are all in this week's edition of the state coaches cross country poll.

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