Cross-country team seeks competitors to get SH on scoreboard

Scott Swanson

The biggest challenge facing Sweet Home’s cross-country program this season is … finding runners, it appears.

“To be honest, the numbers are just not there right now,” Head Coach Kambria Schumacher said last week. “There are not a lot of expectations for this year.”

That doesn’t mean the Huskies will necessarily be no-shows at their meets, but finding enough runners to compete as a full team may be a challenge. It takes five runners to score as a team, though seven or more can compete in most races.

Both the boys and the girls had enough runners to score as a team in the district meet last spring, but four senior boys – Gavin Walberg, Ethan Hurst, Treyson Smith and Trace Marler – have graduated, and the girls lost Jessy Hart, Sicily Neuschwander, Maren Weld and Summer Hicks to graduation.

Junior Meeja Bitter returns for the girls and is joined by sophomore Lydia Wright, who turned some heads in track last season in the short distances as Sweet Home’s second runner in the 200- and 400-meter races behind Hart.

Returning for the boys are seniors Nate Coleman and Aiden Shamek, and juniors Jacob Sieminski and Dakota Seiber.

Sieminski, who finished first in two races for the Huskies last spring, will double with football, but he’s using cross-country to get in shape for wrestling, he said.

“This will be Jacob’s first full season, so it will be interesting to see how he does,” Schumacher said. “He’s doubling with football, and he thinks he can do it. We’ll just have to see.”

Coleman posted the Huskies’ fastest time of the year last season, an 18:42.0 at the Cascade Invitational meet, which Sieminski didn’t compete in.

Schumacher said she’s looking for results from both him and Shamek, both of whom are four-year runners.

“Hopefully, they’ll be able to do well individually,” she said.

The Huskies start with the Ultimook Race in Tillamook Sept. 4, which is a true mud event, and will compete four more times before district, according to their schedule going into the season. The home Husky Invitational, scheduled for Sept. 11 at Community Chapel and GB’s Trees, has been canceled due to lack of response, Schumacher said.

The location and date of the district meet is still up in the air, Schumacher said, as Woodburn will be hosting it, possibly at Bush Park in Salem.

The rest of the Oregon West Conference looks typically dominant this year, she said.

“Philomath and Sisters are always strong and Stayton has some good ones too.”

She said she’s hoping for more students who are willing to give the sport a try.

“I’m hoping more kids trickle in so we’ll at least be able to score as a team. The biggest thing is we just need some new blood, freshmen and sophomores.

“Lydia is a sophomore and she’s our youngest kid.”