Huskies run ‘great’ races to wins at Cascade meet

Sweet Home’s boys and girls cross-country teams found strength in numbers Thursday at the Darrel Deedon Invitational at Cascade High School, finishing ahead of the other 4A schools at the event, which included two Val-Co League teams.

It was all about running together as a team for the Huskies, Coach Billy Snow said.

“We had a great race,” he said. “We sat down on Wednesday to talk about what we needed to do to be successful and they did exactly that.”

What the Huskies did was pack their finishers in, one right after another, even though the course was approximately 450 meters too long – meaning that they ran about 3 1/2 miles instead of the 3.1 (5000 meters) that is supposed to be the varsity distance.

The boys varsity were running in a tight pack at the 1-mile marker, within a second of each other, Snow said.

“I looked up and Ramiro (Santana), Robbie (Callagan) and Jayce (Calhoon) came through,” he said. “I looked down to write down their times and looked up again and Brinden (Sanders), Dallin (Holden) and Byron (Sanders) were coming through right behind them. Our top six guys all had the same time for the mile.”

Calhoon was the top finisher, running 19:09 to finish 12th out of 93 runners for the Huskies.

The other Husky varsity finishers were Santana in 14th (19:15), Brinden Sanders 21st (19:44), Byron Sanders 24th (19:50) Callagan 25th (19:57), Holden 27th (20:06) and Dustin Collman 42nd (6:22).

Team scores were still unavailable as of Monday, Snow said, but he said the boys easily beat Central and Newport, the two other Val-Co schools in the race.

For the girls, it was the same story, Snow said.

“That was incredible,” he said of the girls varsity race. “Amanda (Basham) led the way (finishing seventh overall in 22:41), then we had the next three runners go 13th, 14th and 15th” Olivia Johnson (23:35), Carissa Swanson (23:42) and Ashley Danielson (23:44).”

Running fifth for the Huskies was Justine Calhoon, who finished 26th in 24:40 while fighting a “congestion-type thing,” according to Snow.

He said the Huskies’ top four girls finished before any Newport or Central runners crossed the line.

In the junior varsity race, Land Florek was the winner while nursing a sore foot, running 11:29 over the 3245-meter course.

“That was probably the funnest race of all,” Snow said of the boys JV race. “Land takes the race at half a mile. When Josh (Rice) came through, he was fourth or sixth – I don’t remember – and Nikki (Smith) was about 10th. Land wins it, Josh comes in second and Nikki was fourth.”

Rice ran 11:36 and Smith 11:57. Rounding out the finishers in the race were Michael Simmonds, 27th among 101 runners in 13:19; Chris Thompson (37th, 13:38); David Rinehart (41st, 13:50); Alex Whitlow (55th, 14:09); Brad Pitts (59th, 14:19); Jon Lemar (70th, 15:14) and Conner Cunha (95th, 17:49).

In the girls JV race, Snow said freshman Jenna Kistner ran “a really good little race,” finishing 12th out of 57 runners in 16:15. Natasha Perry was 34th (18:19), Taylor Rodgers 37th (18:25) and Afton Rodgers 44th (19:41).

The balance on the teams is what makes Snow happy, he said.

“One week it could be Ramiro out front, another week it could be Jayce, another week it could be Robbie. It doesn’t matter as long as they run tight.”

The same goes for the girls, he said. Now it comes down to keeping the pressure on.

“I was pleased,” Snow said. “I just told the kids to keep their nose to the grindstone.

“I think there are some other teams we can run with that we normally can’t run with,” he said.

The Huskies are getting another test Tuesday, Sept. 18, on their own home course against Philomath, the only Val-Co League team they haven’t seen yet, along with Central, Stayton, North Marion, Junction City and Cottage Grove. Both Philomath and Cottage Grove are considered among the state’s stronger boys teams this year, according to polls, while the Philomath girls are ranked 11th in the state. On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Huskies will travel to Seaside for the Three-Course Challenge, in which runners will be assigned a race on the “hard,” “moderate” or “easy” course by lot. More than 60 teams are entered in the meet, including 21 from Washington state.