Cross-country boys get fast start at Newport

The Sweet Home cross-country team began its 2008 season with a second-place finish for the boys at the Newport Beach Run Saturday morning on the sand at Newport.

The Huskies finished second, behind 5A-level cross-country power, Crescent Valley, 61-50.

“The kids looked good,” Coach Billy Snow said. “Especially on the guys side. It was good pack running.”

Jayce Calhoon led Sweet Home, finishing the 5000-meter course fourth in 17:39, followed closely by Rob Callagan in fifth place (17:40). Byron Sanders was right behind in seventh (17:50), with Nikki Smith (20th, 18:48) and Casey Keys (25th, 18:57) rounding out the scoring for the Huskies.

On the girls side, Sweet Home remains thin but Snow said his runners showed marked improvement in their times over the same course last year, although the wind was blowing less this time than in 2007.

Olivia Johnson led the Huskies, finishing seventh as Crescent Valley came close to running the table with second through sixth places behind Erin McLaughlin of Milwaukie, who finished first in 19:54.

Johnson ran 21:26, ahead of Emily Everetts of Cascade, who was seventh (21:32) and teammate Carissa Swanson, who finished right behind Everetts in 21:35. Both Johnson and Swanson were three minutes ahead of their time last year, Snow noted.

Jill Mahler was 35th (23:38), Caroline Amendola 43rd (24:52) and Jenna Kistner was 49th in the 56-runner field, finishing in 26:23.

In the boys 3000 junior varsity race, top-10 finishers for the Huskies were Dakotah Keys, second in 10:27, followed by Nick Hall in fifth (10:55) and Jake Comstock seventh (10:56). Others were Joe Stroud (11th, 11:13); Chris Thompson (12th, 11:13); Michael Simmonds (17th, 11:28); Lorenzo Virgen (31st, 11:47); Avery Shamek (35th, 11:52); Alex Whitlow (63rd, 12:45) and Anson Davis (90th, 14:33).

The top finisher for Sweet Home in the girls junior varsity race was freshman Sarah Hawkins, 18th in 13:45, with Natasha Perry 58th (16:15).

“The kids looked good,” Snow said. “They competed well.

“I don’t know if Crescent Valley were missing kids or anything, but to finish that close in a big meet was good. It was good see them being competitive. It’s probably the best way we could have opened up the season, with the kids being competitive. We’re not tapering for these meets.”

Sweet Home will travel to Cascade on Thursday, Sept. 11, for the Darrel Deedon Invitational at 4 p.m.