YAKIMA, Wash. — Sunny, pleasantly warm and, best of all, good air to breathe.

That’s the local forecast for Saturday, and while everybody associated with high school athletics has appreciated the smoke-free relief we’ve received in September nobody savors it more than cross country runners.

Avoiding the indoor imprisonment that beset the early season in 2017 and 2018, local teams have competed in invitationals all across the state in the last two weeks and on Saturday most of them will convene in Naches Heights for the 14th edition of the Apple Ridge Run Challenge.

Eastmont boys and Hanford girls will return to defend their team titles along with 15 local schools who will likely push the Challenge to a record number of participants. Apple Ridge’s flagship event, which was canceled in 2012 because of smoke, actually got last year’s races in on the first decent weekend of the season and set a record with 850 runners, many of whom were running their first race of the season. Saturday’s event, which features three varsity races on the property’s Figure 8, Race and Horseshoe courses, could reach 1,000.

Apple Ridge hosted the CWU Invitational last weekend and Selah graduates Lily Tyrrell and Molly Mattson, right at home on their former home course, ran 1-2 for the Wildcats.

La Salle’s 12th man

Humble as you are Cody Lamb, you’re going to have to enjoy this one.

After a pair of solid wins over CWAC teams to start the season, the seventh-year La Salle football coach was named Seattle Seahawks coach of the week for 2A, 1A and B schools.

The Lightning have defeated East Valley and Selah and will open its SCAC West season on Friday at Goldendale.

La Salle will receive a $500 donation for its football program along with a framed certificate signed by Pete Carroll. Lamb will receive two tickets to a home game later this season and be recognized on the field.

The Seahawks will obviously pick for you, Cody, but there are two holiday specials on the home schedule — Arizona on Dec. 22 followed by San Francisco a week later.

Off and running

Nine catches, five touchdowns.

Yeah, Mike Rivera has his playmaking skills in high gear through two games and last week’s effort earned the Sunnyside senior WIAA Class 4A boys athlete of the week honors. His eight receptions for a school-record 206 yards and four scores was a breakout even for him.

With the big single-game jump, Rivera moved into the Valley’s all-time career yardage list at No. 10 with 2,119 yards. The Grizzlies (2-0) head to Richland (1-1) on Friday for a game they very much want to win after last year’s 28-27 setback to the Bombers.

The three CBBN receivers we featured on the cover of Kickoff 2019 — Eisenhower’s Malachi Spurrier, West Valley’s Jack Van De Brake and Rivera — have hauled in 46 passes for 846 yards and 13 touchdowns in just two games.

Week 3, like last year, is a rugged one in the CBBN with West Valley traveling to Camas (2-0) and Coeur d’Alene (2-1) visiting Eisenhower.

Looking back to Week 1, the shutouts posted by Davis and Eisenhower marked the first time the Yakima schools have opened the season with goose eggs.

Change of pace

Wanting more than just one day between league matches, the CBBN girls soccer coaches adopted a Tuesday-Saturday schedule this fall and scraped the previous Tuesday-Thursday arrangement.

The league started the one-year experimental schedule this week. In addition to more recovery time between league matches, coaches also liked the idea of less out-of-class time with Saturday matches.

The CBBN boys use a Tuesday-Friday schedule in the spring but with football consuming facilities on Friday the girls coaches opted to go with 1 p.m. kickoffs on Saturday.

Blakney on Board

I sent this out in the Twitter-sphere last month but here it is in print: Wapato principal David Blakney has joined the WIAA Executive Board as the District 5 representative. He will serve alongside Toppenish superintendent John Cerna, the Region C representative.

Blakney replaces Naches Valley principal Rich Rouleau, who held the District 5 position for 13 years and was the Board’s president in 2011-2012. In his final year, Rouleau was busy chairing a classification committee that crafted the free-and-reduced amendment that will take effect next fall.

SunDome Festival review

Aided by a senior-dominated squad, Rogers of Puyallup became the first westside team in 13 years to win last Saturday’s big-school tournament in the SunDome Volleyball Festival. Redmond won in 2005 and 2006.

The Rams, who were 6-0 for the day, have four all-SPSL seniors, including 6-2 middle blocker Chelsey Harmon. This crew won last year’s SPSL tournament but went 1-2 in the West Central district and missed a trip to Yakima for state.

Clearly they seemed ready to return in November.

On the subject of state, the WIAA has set sites and dates through 2025 and, as was the case with last year’s new two-week set-up, Yakima will basically be the center of the universe.

The SunDome will always host the 1A, 2B and 1B tournaments the first week with St. Martin’s University taking one tournament during the second week. The rotation for St. Martin’s will be 2A this season, 3A in 2020 and 2021, 4A in 2022 and 2023 and back to 2A in 2024 and 2025.

Reach Scott Spruill at sspruill@yakimaherald.com and on twitter at @ScottSpruill