By David Krueger Herald Writer
Last weekend Katie Bianchini — who was already part of a 3A state championship-winning cross country team at Glacier Peak — put a cherry on top of her already impressive senior season running in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships at Balboa Park in San Diego.
“I just kind of looked at it as icing on the cake,” Bianchini said. “We already had a great season.”
Bianchini finished 36th in the girls race that featured some of the top runners in the country. She qualified after placing eighth at the West Regional on Dec. 1.
The senior enjoyed getting to know the other runners at the event, who she hopes to compete with — of against — for the foreseeable future.
“It was seriously an amazing experience,” Bianchini said. “I had so much fun there. The race was great. The people were awesome. It was just an awesome experience.”
Bianchini said her time of 18 minutes, 42 seconds wasn’t her best time of the year, but she was just happy to be down there for the race and get the experience of running against some elite competition.
“I wouldn’t say it was my best race of the season. … But I can’t really be too disappointed with that because it’s a really historical meet and it’s really cool to be a part of something big like that,” Bianchini said.
There was one particularly weird part of the whole race for Bianchini: not having her teammates around.
After the state tournaments, postseason races are club races and not done through high schools. As a result, Bianchini was the lone runner from Snohomish in San Diego last weekend.
“It is weird. I’m really used to running with the team,” Bianchini said. “This is the only really big meet I haven’t gone to without any teammates. This is the only race in all four years of high school that I’ve gone without any of them.”
One of those teammates is star runner Amy-Eloise Neale. Neale ran at the Nike National Cross Country championship in Portland on Dec. 1, while Bianchini was running at the Foot Locker regional round.
The two have led the Grizzlies to two 3A state team championships and a couple of second-place finishes in their four years at Glacier Peak.
But they’ve been running together long before that.
“I’ve actually never been on a competitive team without her,” Bianchini said. “We’ve run together since middle school. That’ll definitely be really weird without training around her in practice.”
While Neale, who recently committed to the University of Washington, has her college plans lined up, Bianchini is still lining up official visits to prospective colleges. She isn’t sure where she’s going to continue her running career — and major in Spanish — but she thinks it will probably be at a Christian university somewhere in the U.S.
She’s just not positive where.
“I’m still in the process of doing some visits and just looking,” Bianchini said. “I’ve looked at schools near and far.”
Bianchini, who hopes to decide on a school by the end of January, isn’t finished running around the Pacific Northwest just yet. Her Glacier Peak athletic career will officially be over once she’s done running track in the spring.
“That’ll finish up my high school running,” she said.