SPOKANE, Wash. — The high school fall sports season is upon us, and there one team in the region that is just better than the rest.
"I don't know if I'll ever have a team like this, we're just so close knit. We work so hard. It's been the Dream Team," said junior Allie Janke.
"As you can see from the smile on my face, it is going to be another exciting season," said head coach Dempsey Ortega.
It's the North Central girls cross country team, and they’re ranked ninth in the nation.
"It's one of those groups of athletes I think that some coaches may only get once in a career, maybe twice," said Ortega. "They’re that type of group."
The Indians return all seven of their top runners this season. That group has won back-to-back state championships.
"It's really amazing. It's like, just having your team as your family basically," said senior Erinn Hill. "We spend more time practically together than I do our family. So just being able to come back, every one of us, and just try to get another shot at it is just really special."
"I'm just I'm so excited for the potential that these girls show, and to just go back to state this year and to just dominate. But to also improve and to just, I mean last year was amazing, last year was like walking on cloud nine afterwards, but this year I think we can even do a little bit more," said Janke, who also happened to place 22nd individually at Footlocker Nationals last year.
Last year, the team obliterated the 4A and 3A state meet record, scoring 21 points.
The previous record? 42.
"It was kind of surreal because we had done the math in our head, and we had tried to figure out how the race might go for us like best situation, worst situation, and 21 points wasn't even in the picture," said Janke.
"We knew we could break that state record, but 21 points was not quite what we had in mind," said Erinn Hill. "This year we'll see what we can do, maybe break 20? Who knows."
"The goal is definitely to beat last year's and it's going to be quite a challenge but I think we can do it," said Erinn's twin, Mia. "We've all been working really hard over the summer and we're returning with all of our girls so I think that if there's ever a year to do it, I think this is it."
The squad's goals extend way beyond the state of Washington.
They want make it to Nike Cross Nationals.
A tough feat, as they’ll have to be one of the top two teams in the Northwest region to qualify.
"We've been trying to make it to Nationals for like the past four years. Every year we've had a little disappointing race, but this is the year. We know we can do it, and we'll just hope it all comes together on that day. I think that it's gonna be the season remember," said Erinn.
No matter what though, this group of girls has left a legacy.
In a North Central cross country program dominated by the boys and their plethora of championships, the ladies have now taken center stage.
"It means everything to me," said Janke. "Just knowing that other girls are looking at us and maybe inspired by what we do and inspired about what they could do. Just trying to get other people in the area into running and just the impact we can have now. It's so cool because the NC girls have never had a spotlight like this, but we work really hard, and we're all excited about what we've been able to do together."