Cross-Country: Huskies need teamwork, leadership from veterans

Scott Swanson

Of The New Era

There?s a lot of good news for the Sweet Home cross-country program this year.

A substantial number of runners have turned out for the season ? 19 in all, which is fairly close to the ?magic?number of 24 (evenly divided between boys and girls) that Coach Billy Snow says he needs to field a full junior varsity squad.

?I haven?t fielded a complete JV team for at least two years,? Snow said.

The boys team looks to have a good pack of runners who should stay close in races, which is a good thing in a sport that scores on competitors? placements as they cross the finish line.

More good news is that there?s a high level of team spirit among both the boys and girls, according to Snow.

The sobering news is that the Huskies are facing a very competitive league on both the boys and girls sides.

Boys

The boys don?t have a single runner who Snow expects to dominate, he said.

?But we do have a group of six or seven guys who are all right there with each other,? he added. ?If we can get these six or seven guys to cut a minute from their times last year, we?ll have a tough team.?

The boys have a trio of runners who are back for their third year: senior Anthony Ertsgaard and juniors Jake Smith and Peter VanDerlip. Ertsgaard is back after having an injury-plagued junior season and Snow hopes he and the other veterans, along with Dallin Holden, a sophomore, and junior Jess Keys. Keys, Snow said, ?really learned to run? during last year?s track season, when he ran a ?hard 3000? at the Stayton Twilight Meet to finish in 10:26, nearly 45 seconds faster than his previous personal best.

The wildcards this year will be newcomers Ramiro Santana, a sophomore who was an up-and-coming quarter-miler on the track team last spring and freshman Robert Callagan, along with senior Adam Kistner. The other newcomer is Josh Rice, also a freshman.

Snow says he?d like to see the Huskies place higher than last year?s fifth-place finish in the Capital Conference.

?The guys? team is going to have a tough league right now,? he said. ?I?d like to see them place higher than last year. I think we have a group that can do that. Most everybody in the league, though, has everybody coming back.?

He expects Cascade and Sisters to be the favorites this year. Cascade is led by Kym Hunt, who was third in the district last year. Snow predicted that Mollala and Stayton will also be up there, with last year?s district champion Jared Swehosky, who also placed second in the state 3A 3000 (8:39.81) leading Stayton and senior Jarrett Ziemer, last year?s third-place finisher in the state 3A cross-country championships, pacing Mollala.

The key for the Huskies is to have at least their best runners drop down below the 6-minute-mile range, Snow said.

?If three of our guys can get down into the 17?s (over a three-mile course), we have a chance (to make the state meet),? he said.?I?m looking for guys with experience ? Anthony, Peter, Dallin and Jake ? to lead the team.?

Girls

Three of the Lady Huskies arrived this year having done roadwork during the summer, Snow said, and he expects them ? junior Jessica Trautwein, senior Kambria Schumacher and junior Cassandra Schumacher ?along with sophomore Ashley Danielson, to lead the way for the team.

The Schumacher sisters transferred to Sweet Home last year from East Linn Christian Academy. Kambria placed 12th and Cassandra placed 26th in the state 2A/1A cross-country championships to help lead East Linn to a fourth-place finish last fall.

Snow expects Kambria Schumacher to lead the Lady Huskies this fall, noting that she and her sister run in the low 7?s per mile.

?Jessica is a strong runner,?he added. ?She sets a pace and will give it what her body?s got.?

The rest of the girls team is rounded out by junior Staci Grove, senior Julia Henthorne, junior Lacey Hightower, senior Korina Thompson and senior Heidi Wilson.

That gives the Lady Huskies more runners than ?the bare minimum? Snow said they had last year for a team that finished fifth in the league.

?The question now is who will step up and fill the holes for us,?he said. He said he expects Wilson and Grove to be among those. Henthorne, he said, has some ?nagging injuries,?so it will be a wait-and-see situation with her.

?It?s a tough league on the girls side too,? Snow said. He said he expects Cascade to be the top team, thanks in part to its community?s strong junior high school program that continually provides experienced runners to the high school. Cascade is led by junior Linsie Michaels who won the district last year as a sophomore ? by nearly a two-minute margin.

Sisters and Mollala will be fighting for the league championship as well, he predicted. The rest of the spots will be some mixture of North Marion, Stayton and Sweet Home, he said.

Snow said the Huskies have less depth than other teams, especially Sisters, which has ?50 to 60 kids?out for cross country. ?They always are able to find some good runners from that bunch,? he said.

The Huskies will open their fall campaign with the Newport Invitational at Agate Beach on Saturday morning, Sept. 10. Their home meet will be Sept. 20 at Camp Tadmor, on McDowell Creek Road, with another close meet, the Lebanon Invitational, at Waterloo Park on Sept. 28.

What Sweet Home has to do this year is ?work hard and lay it on the line,?he said. ?They have to be willing to fail because if they fail once, they?ll succeed somewhere else,?Snow said.

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2005 Cross Country Schedule

Sept. 10 at Newport Invit. 9:30 a.m.

Sept. 15 at Cascade 4 p.m.

Sept. 20 Sweet Home Invit. 4 p.m.

at Camp Tadmor

Sept. 24 at Seaside 10 a.m.

Sept. 28 Lebanon Invit. 4 p.m.

at Waterloo Park

Oct. 4 at Junction City 4 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Philomath noon

Oct. 13 at Creswell 4 p.m.

Oct. 20 at Cottage Grove 4 p.m.

Oct. 28 District Meet 2 p.m.

at Salem?s Bush Park

Nov. 5 State Meet at Lane CC TBA

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