Cross Country runners deliver PRs at Oregon City

Scott Swanson

Saturday was a hot day in more ways than one for Sweet Home’s runners as they competed in the Oregon City Cross-Country Invitational at Oregon City High School.

The girls and boys with varsity experience turned in big PR’s, said Coach Dave Martin following a day in which temperatures were well into the mid-80s, on the tail end of a heat wave.

“All our high school runners ran well,” he said. “We’re continuing to get faster and stronger.”

Sophomore Mckenzie Miller, who was running with an injury, still managed to PR by some 35 seconds, finishing 26th out of 124 runners in 21:15.

The three-loop 5,000-meter course was comprised of mostly dirt trails and on grass, with a few small hills.

But the big performance of the day was senior Rylee Markell, who ran 22:17 to place 47th, chopping more than 2½ minutes off the time she ran the week before in her first race of the season at Stayton, for a personal best of nearly a minute.

Junior Natiyah Walters-Koenig finished in 25:46, good for 95th, bettering her Stayton time by about a minute and a half.

“All three of those girls, I was really pleased with what I saw,” Martin said.

Rounding out the varsity lineup were junior Peyton Markell, who was 105th in 26:48; sophomore Anabelle Morris, 114th in 27:56, and junior Amelia Sullens, 118th in 28:59.

With six runners, the girls had enough to score as a team, placing 12th out of 14 teams that were mostly larger schools from the Portland and southern Washington areas.

The varsity boys race only had four Huskies in the field of 181, and sophomore Jim Morgan had to drop out with an injury, which left three finishers: freshman Kason Koenig, who was 117th in 20:15 – a PR of 1:09; freshman Conner Spencer, who posted his third straight PR with a 128th-place finish of 20:33 – 30 seconds faster than his time at Stayton; and junior Kasey Kast, who finished 157th in his first-ever high school 5000, in 21:54.

Sweet Home’s four JV boys, all running a high school 5000 for the first time, were led by sophomore Cannon Klumph who finished 108th out of 261 runners in 21:45; followed by sophomore Keagan Vogel, 225th in 26:23; junior Shayne Schuster, 230th in 26:48; and junior Boden Sayer, 248th in 29:08.

“Cannon went a lot faster than I expected,” Martin said. “I was really pleased with all of our runners who ran a race for the first time.”

In the girls JV race, sophomore Delanie Pratt finished 70th out of 97 runners in 30:21.

Martin said his team is continuing to make definite strides.

“We continue to make progress,” he said. “Our varsity guys race was really close (in terms of the proximity of finishers to each other). Right now we have six guys who can go under 22 minutes. And we have two who are almost under 20.”

Last year’s fastest time clocked by a Husky was 20:48, by Ethan Delibertis, who isn’t running cross-country this year.

Sweet Home’s junior high runners continued to offer hope for the future as well.

In the 3,000-meter middle school race, eighth-grader Emma Whitton was the top finisher out of 42 girls, finishing in 12:47, a one-second PR. Seventh-grader Cassie Spencer was right behind in fourth, running 13:27.

In the boys race, eighth-grader Wes Goff ran a nearly 30-second PR of 13:29 to finish eighth out of 46 runners, with eighth-grader Evan Malabago right behind in 13:49, good for 11th, and first-timer Eli Adams, also an eighth-grader, finishing 38th in 19:49.

“We’re right on track,” Martin said. “We’re continuing to improve.”

Up next for Sweet Home is the Northwest Classic Saturday, Sept. 23, at Lane Community College, where the state championship meet will be held. The meet will include some 60 teams from all over the western and central parts of Oregon, including some of the favorites for the 4A state boys and girls titles. Approximately 20 teams are expected in the middle school competition, which starts at 10 a.m. High school races begin at 11 am.