Boys third among Val-Co cross-country teams at Philomath meet, girls first

The Sweet Home boys cross-country team knows where it stands now in its quest to make the state championships for the second year in a row.

The teams to beat are Philomath and Central – and based on what the Huskies saw on Saturday, it’s going to be tough.

Sweet Home finished behind those teams at the Paul Mariman Timbertown Invitational, on the same course where they will run the District Championship meet on Oct. 27. All five Val-Co League teams competed in the meet, so Coach Billy Snow got a chance to see how his team matched up against some of the state’s and league’s best squads.

North Bend, which had the top three finishers in the boys race, won the team title with 34 points, followed by Marist (50), Siuslaw (132), Philomath in fourth (149), Central in fifth (166), Scappoose (226,) Sweet Home in seventh (230), Estacada (245), Cottage Grove (272), and Astoria with 277 points to round out the top 10. Taft was 11th at 293 and Newport 18th with 440 points.

Ramiro Santana was once again the top finisher for the Huskies, in 35th place out of 133 runners, in 18:03.4. Brinden Sanders, who was not feeling well, ran 39th in 18:13.2, Land Florek was 42nd (18:22.9), Byron Sanders 48th (18:35.5), Dallin Holden 66th (19:09.9) and Josh Rice 68th (19:16.2).

Snow said the Huskies finished seventh without two of their top runners, Rob Callagan and Jayce Calhoon, but he said the boys have to run better if they want to make state as a team.

Philomath finished 12-21-25-37-54-55-58, with freshman Jeff Schreiner-McGraw leading the way in 17:19.1 as the Val-Co League’s top finisher. Louis Donadio (17:43.5) and Tyler Thomas (17:49.3) all came in under 18 minutes for the flat, fast 5000-meter course, with David Weiner fourth for the Warriors in 18:09.8, two spots behind Sweet Home’s top runner, Santana.

Central was 13-17-29-47-60-61-84, strengthened by the recent return of Javier Orozco, who was injured earlier in the season, but finished 29th Saturday in 17:55.5 as the Panthers’ third runner. Martin Saldana was Central’s top finisher in 17:20.3, with Joe Deardorff second (17:30.7).

Snow said he scored the meet based on the placings of just the Val-Co League runners and the numbers for the top three teams looked like this: Philomath 36, Central 43, and Sweet Home 66.

“Our first finisher was in eighth place,” he said. “We need to get four or five guys on that course in the 17s (minute range). It’s not impossible for us to do. They’ve got the ability but they have to show up and do it.”

The Huskies have been pushing hard in practice and haven’t tapered their training yet, which may result in some faster times. Plus, Callagan, who is normally one of their top four runners, became ill during the race and was unable to finish on Saturday.

“I think Ramiro can run with Louie (Donadio) and those guys,” Snow said. “He needs to go out with them. We need our guys to go out a tad harder and hang on as a group. Once Robbie fell out, our other guys didn’t pick it up.”

Dustin Collman, who was the Huskies top junior varsity finisher (eighth in 19:09.2) would have been the varsity’s fifth runner, Snow noted.

“If our guys are going to have success, our seventh runner is just as important as first runner,” Snow said.

On the girls side, things went better for the Huskies. Sweet Home finished as the top Val-Co team, in fifth place overall. Siuslaw proved why it is one of the best teams in the state with four runners in the top 10, – third, fourth, ninth and 10th, in the field of 123 runners, to score 65 points, followed by North Bend (68), Marist (85), Scappoose (97), Sweet Home (142), Philomath in sixth (182), Walport (222), Central seventh (223), Astoria (238) Central Linn (283), Newport tenth (285), and the other Val-Co team, Taft, 15th with 389.

Amanda Basham was Sweet Home’s leader, finishing 11th (20:54.5), followed by Ashley Danielson (24th, 21:40.5), Olivia Johnson (28th, 21:52.4), Carissa Swanson (33rd, 22:13.4), Justine Calhoon (66th, 23:55.3), Jill Mahler, (70th, 24:03.3) and Jenna Kistner (91st, 25:17.1).

“I thought the girls had another great race as a team,,” Snow said. “It was nice to see Justine back (from injury), though she’s not where she will be by the end of the season.

“Amanda, what a great race. She just ran through, did the first mile in 6:24 and kept running.”

If the Huskies can keep doing what they’re doing now, Snow said, things look good. Scoring the meet with just Val-Co teams, Sweet Home ended up with 34 point to Philomath’s 49.

The key, Snow said, is how the Huskies have been able to finish in clusters.

“Our strength is how we bunch them,” he said. “It’s going to come down to our fifth and sixth runners” in determining how Sweet Home will finish at districts, Snow predicted.

In the junior varsity race, all four girls set personal records for either the season or the course, with Afton Rodgers dropping about four minutes from her time last year.

Taylor Rodgers led the JV girls, finishing 38th in a field of 62 (29:11.1), followed by Natasha Perry (43rd, 29:43.3), Afton Rodgers (52nd, 31:51.4), and Louise Wilcox (58th, 36:11.6).

Behind Collman in the boys field of 100 runners, Nikki Smith was 12th in 19:31.3, followed by Michael Simmonds (39th, 21:32.9), David Rinehart (63rd, 22:45.3), Chris Thompson (69th, 23:14.7), Alex Whitlow (71st, 23:23.1), Jon Lemar (75th, 23:32.5, Dakota Nave (95th, 26:49.8) and Conner Cunha (98th, 27:51.8).

The Huskies will travel back to Philomath Friday, Oct. 12, for the second annual Philomath Forest Run at Beazell Memorial Forest in Kings Valley. Races are scheduled to begin at noon.

Junction City Richardson Park Invitational

Sweet Home’s boys and girls placed second to Marist in both the boys and girls varsity races Tuesday, Oct. 2, in a fast race over a flat course at Fern Ridge Reservoir.

Thirteen teams participated in the event, with the Marist boys running away with six of the top eight spots in a fast boys field of 75 runners to nail down the Spartans’ win with 20 points. Matt Hollander led Marist in 16:26.

Sweet Home was second with 76, led by Ramiro Santana in 12th (17:29) and Brinden Sanders in 13th (17:37). Rounding out the top five for the Huskies, in a tight pack that was key to the win, were Jayce Calhoon (16th, 17:41), Rob Callagan (17th, 17:42) and Land Florek (25th, 17:57). The time was a PR for Florek, he said. Byron Sanders (25th, 17:57) and Dallin Holden (33rd, 18:25) finished things off for the Sweet Home varsity.

Behind Marist and Sweet Home, team finishers for the varsity boys were (3) Central 103; (4) Cottage Grove 116, (5) Bandon 127; (6) Elmira 130; (7) Waldport 146; (8) Stayton 149; (9) Monroe 255; and (10) Junction City 267.

In the girls race, Sweet Home was much closer to the Spartans. Marist scored 40, with the Huskies close behind with 57 points. Central was third with 103 points and Cottage Grove fourth (116).

Amanda Basham led the Huskies with a third-place finish in 20:34.00, a personal best for her at the 5000 meter distance, behind winner Meghan Whalen off Marist (19:35) and Patricia Guterrez of Cottage Grove (20:11) in a field of 62 runners,. Olivia Johnson was eighth (21:25), Ashley Danielson ninth (21:28), Carissa Swanson 11th (21:36) and Jill Mahler 27th (22:59) to round out the scoring for Sweet Home. Jenna Kistner ran 25:21 for 49th place to finish sixth for the Huskies. Behind Whalen, Marist had runners in fourth, seventh, 13th and 15th to seal the team victory.

In the JV boys race, Sweet Home placed third as a team with 64 points behind Marist (17) and Central (56), and followed by Stayton (116) and Cottage Grove (134).

Dustin Collman was sixth out of 62 runners for the Huskies, in 18:56, behind five Marist runners. Behind Collman were Nikki Smith (eighth, 19:17), Michael Simmonds (ninth, 19:52); Chris Thompson (22nd, 21:12); Brad Pitts (41st, 23:12); Alex Whitlow (42nd, 23:19) and Conner Cunha (62nd, 34:10).

Sweet Home did not have enough runners to field a girls JV team, but the Huskies were led by freshman Taylor Rodgers, who finished 14th out of 23 runners, with Natasha Perry (15th, 30:08) and Afton Rodgers (22nd, 35:25) rounding out the scoring.