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Originally published Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 8:04 PM

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Amy-Eloise Neale leads Glacier Peak girls' 3A dominance | NW District cross country

Grizzlies senior wins 3A girls title. Kamiak boys, Roosevelt girls and Oak Harbor boys also win team titles.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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No disrespect to Amy Eloise who is arguably one of the best runners in the nation, but... MORE

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ARLINGTON — Some runners had a lot riding on the Northwest District high-school cross-country championships Saturday at Lakewood High School.

Not Glacier Peak's Amy-Eloise Neale.

The two-time state champion used the meet as a warm-up for the state meet next Saturday in Pasco. Her focus is on winning the 3A state individual title that eluded her last year. She finished second to North Central of Spokane's Katie Knight, who also returns.

"I'm not going to pretend I wasn't disappointed last year," Neale said. "I was."

With Neale leading the way Saturday, the Class 3A girls race was over almost as soon as it started. The senior, who has led the Grizzlies from Snohomish all season, gained a big lead on the first pass around the Lakewood track.

The only other runner remotely close throughout the 3.1-mile race was Neale's teammate, Katie Bianchini. Neale took first place — as did her Glacier Peak team — in 17 minutes, 13 seconds. Runner-up Bianchini's time was 18:02.

Neale said she and Bianchini find motivation when they pull away from the field, as they did Saturday.

"In many ways I think it just makes us more mentally tough, because we're having to push out there by ourselves the whole time," Neale said. "We don't have people pushing us along, and so I think it makes us stronger for when we do have that competition because we know we can stick with them."

As a team, Glacier Peak couldn't be feeling better heading into the state meet. Mikayla Ingram finished fourth, Megan Davis fifth, and Katherine Dittman 11th.

The Grizzlies also return senior Marlee Rothschild from a stress fracture. Rothschild, who finished 19th at state last year, returned just days before the previous week's WesCo meet, and finished 17th Saturday.

Teams advancing with Glacier Peak to state are No. 10 Oak Harbor and Stanwood. The top three 3A teams and top 15 individuals qualify for state.

Garfield senior Jamie Coughlin won the boys 4A race, but he and Jackson's Aaron Roe dueled until the end. Coughlin took his first lead at about 2 ½ miles of the 3.1-mile race.

"The first mile went out really fast," Coughlin said. "I was stuck in the back of the pack. I just started to slowly work my way up and put myself in good position at the end."

Coughlin finished in 15:36, with Roe second in 15:40.

In 4A, five teams and 25 individuals qualified for state. No. 7 Kamiak of Mukilteo won the boys race, followed by Jackson of Mill Creek, Eastlake of Sammamish, Garfield, and Lake Stevens.

Roosevelt edged Snohomish by one point, 113-112, for the 4A girls team title. Jackson, Redmond, and Eastlake qualified, as well. Chandler Olson of Woodinville was the individual winner in 18:22.

The 3A boys winner was Oak Harbor, with 67 points. Glacier Peak was second, and Shorewood third. Ferndale's Connor Jungkuntz finished first in 16:05.

Sehome of Bellingham won both the boys and girls 2A team titles. The Mariners' girls had four top-20 state qualifiers, led by winner Emily Pittis in 18:37. Patrick Gibson of Squalicum of Bellingham was the boys winner in 15:41.

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