Health Issues, heat hinder huskies XC

Scott Swanson

Despite some health challenges that prevented many of the Huskies from running, Sweet Home’s cross-country teams competed in the Paul Mariman Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Philomath.

The race has been a constant on the Huskies’ schedule for years and this year it was particularly important in that the district championships will be held on that course on Oct. 28.

Sweet Home was only able to field a full scoring team of five runners in the boys junior varsity race, due to health issues.

“Most of the kids who didn’t run were either hurt or sick,” Coach Dave Martin said. “We’ve been fighting both for the last 10 days or so.”

Times were not the best for most of the Huskies, due in part to the weather, Martin said.

“The weather was a bit warm – high 70s, low 80s for the varsity races.”

Freshman Conner Spencer was the only Sweet Home runner in the boys varsity race, finishing 66th out of 108 runners, in 21:20, well off his personal best.

In the boys junior varsity race, freshman Hunter Clark was the top finisher in a field of 73 runners, a nearly 50-second PR of 20:25.

Freshman Ryker Burr, who has been slowed by injuries and was only running his second race of the season, was fourth in 21:01, a 37-second personal best.

Sophomore Keagan Vogel was 33rd in 23:50, junior Christian Justham was 36th in 24:33 and junior Shayne Schuster was 68th in 31:20.

That was good enough to get the boys a fourth-place finish as a team, with 85 points, behind Cottage Grove (31), Philomath (71) and Scappoose (76).

“Hunter and Ryker both had big PR races,” Martin said. “I was especially pleased with Ryker’s, since that’s his first race since (season-opening) Ultimook.”

In the girls varsity race, sophomore Mckenzie Miller was eighth in a field of 83 runners, finishing in 21:26, about 40 seconds off her PR.

“Mckenzie ran a good race, even though she wasn’t running her sharpest,” Martin said. “Very solid effort.”

Junior Amelia Sullens was 71st for the Huskies, finishing in 29:15 in the race, which was won by Philomath’s Adele Beckstead, the league’s leading runner, who finished in 19:56, well off her personal best.

Sophomore Delainie Pratt finished ninth in a field of 31 runners in the girls JV race, running 29:25, with freshman Noelle Helfrich 12th in 31:31 and junior Koharu Yasuda 16th in 32:34. Philomath swept the top five places in the race.

“I thought Delainie ran a really strong race,” Martin said. “She ran a smart first mile, and moved at about the same pace throughout. She looked as smooth and strong at the end as she did in the middle. She even passed a girl on the track.

“The time doesn’t look like it compared to her PR, but it was one of the better races that (Assistant Coach) Andrew (McIntyre) and I saw.”

Sweet Home’s middle-schoolers also competed at Philomath, with eighth-grader Emma Whitton finishing second in 11:49, a 10-second PR, in a field of 120 runners in the girls 3000, behind Philomath eighth-grader Cassidy Smart (11:27).

Olivia Hernandez, a sixth-grader from Philomath, was third in 11:51, followed by Sweet Home’s Cassie Spencer, a seventh-grader, in 11:56, which was a 23-second PR.

Kali Vogel, also a seventh-grader, was 32nd in 14:46 for the Tigers, a 50-second PR.

For the boys, eighth-grader Wes Goff was 25th in a field of 145 runners for Sweet Home, running 12:21, a 20-second PR, followed closely by eighth-grader Evan Malabago in 12:32, two seconds off the PR he set two weeks prior at the Northwest Classic.

Eli Adams, also an eighth-grader, was 127th in 18:51.

“All three junior high girls had PRs,” Martin noted. “Evan was close to his PR but didn’t look sharp, so that’s exciting. Cassie was the same – she didn’t look sharp, but she still PR’d by a little.”

The Tigers will finish their season Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Northwest Middle School XC Showdown at Avery Park in Corvallis. Top runners from approximately 50 schools and running clubs from throughout northwestern Oregon are expected to participate. Races start at 3:30 p.m., with the fastest runners competing in the Champions races at 4:30 and 5 p.m.

The high schoolers are scheduled to compete Friday, Oct. 13, at the Escape the Rock meet at Fort Rock State Park, southeast of Bend, in a final tune-up for the districts.