SH girls team, Johnson seventh in state X-C

Sweet Home’s boys and girls finished their season on a high note Saturday at the OSAA 4A State Cross-Country Championships, the girls placing seventh and the boys 10th at Lane Community College.

Olivia Johnson finished seventh in the girls race after winning the Val-Co district title the week before, running 20:27 on a slightly mushy course Saturday.

The Sweet Home girl’s team took seventh place and the boys were 10th as their leading runner, sophomore Nick Hall, who also is the district champion, placed 15th in 17:26.

“The kids had a good race,” Coach Billy Snow said. “Nobody had a PR, but I thought they ran really well.”

Marist ended a five-year state championship run for Siuslaw in the 4A girl’s race, despite Siuslaw’s Raelyn Robinson and Samantha Pummer finishing first and second. Henley slipped past Siuslaw, which was the favorite in the boys race as well, to put all five of its scoring runners in the top 15 to win the state title with 49 points.

At the beginning of the 4A girl’s race, Sweet Home’s Johnson, a junior, looked solid with fellow junior Carissa Swanson following close behind. Swanson, who had a cold going into the race, couldn’t stay with her and Johnson pulled away right behind the lead pack.

Johnson said although she was struggling to breathe during the last mile, she stuck to her strategy of looking ahead towards the next runner that she needed to pass. She held off Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley in the last 100 meters, who finished a second behind.

Swanson said when she saw that Johnson was in the top 10 ahead of her, she forgot about herself and began thinking, “Go, Olivia, go.”

Snow said he believes this was the highest-placing girls team and individual since the mid-1990s.

“I think Olivia is the second-highest finisher behind Jessie Schra, who won the state championship in 1993,” he said. “I think Olivia ran a great race. I was hoping for the top 10 for her.”

Caroline Amendola finished 45th (22:21) for the Huskies. Snow said Amendola, a junior, “made a big jump” this season from running 24:13 her sophomore year to a season best of 21:45.

Paige Sanders, a freshman, came in 79th (23:21) with Jessica Snow close behind. Snow, a senior who decided to run cross-country for the first time as well as play girls soccer, finished with a great kick on the track, passing several runners to place 89th in the field of 119, in 24:05. Junior Jenna Kistner was 104th (24:15) with senior Natasha Perry, 112th (25:17).

Perry had a great season this year, working her way back from an injury last year as well as becoming a key runner for the girl’s team.

The boy’s race did not lack excitement either.

During the first mile, Hall was in the top 30, running a 5:20 for his first mile.

“I knew I was going to come into state pretty used up and sore, but I stuck with it and did what Coach expected of me,” Hall said.

Billy Snow said Hall “ran a great race. He placed 15th and it wasn’t that far off his district time (17:11).

“He said didn’t feel nearly as comfortable in this one,” Snow said, referring to the district meet. “A lot of the kids said the same thing. I don’t know if it was nerves. None of those guys had run in the state meet before.”

Senior Byron Sanders was the next finisher for the Huskies in 57th (18:26).

There was concern when senior Jake Comstock came out way ahead of his normal pace, trailing not far behind Sanders, but he held it, finishing in 71st with 18:34.

“I just kept picking the next guy off ahead of me. I just felt the pressure and went for it,” said Comstock, who suffered a broken ankle during the summer and wasn’t fully healed until midway through the season.

Snow said Comstock “had a great race” and was only one second off his district time on a day when everyone else on both teams ran 15 to 20 seconds slower.

Behind Comstock, Sweet Home packed together, with freshman Daniel Danforth leading the way into the chutes in 90th out of 123 runners.

“It was pretty fun,” he said.

Snow said he had the team penciled in for 12th and thought if they had a good day they might be able to crack the top seven.

Senior Chris Thompson was next, finishing 94th (19:11), followed by senior Casey Keys in 103rd (19:18), and sophomore Lorenzo Virgen, who ran with a sore leg, in 116th (20:16).

“We had a lot of kids just step up and perform and do a pretty good job and take 10th,” Snow said. “It’s been fun to have a large group this year as well as be able to bring both groups to state and have them hit their predicted placement.”

The Huskies were happy to beat both Philomath teams, as the Philomath girls were 12th and the boys were 11th.

“I have a lot of respect for the Philomath program,” Snow said. “They have a lot of consistency, going to state for over 30 years, so you feel good about running next to them.”

Although the boys and girls teams had discussed their goals for the season, reaching those goals was not without challenges.

“We’ve dealt with a lot of injuries that changed who we saw at the beginning of the season making it to this point,” said assistant coach Lela Danforth.

Danforth said the success may spur some new runners to turn out for next year’s team.

“Any time you have success at the district and state level, people want to be a part of that,” she said.

OSAA 4A State Championhips

Boys Team Results

(1) Henley 49; (2) Siuslaw 57; (3) Sisters 109; (4) La Salle 135; (5) Pleasant Hill 156; (6) Hidden Valley 162; (7) Estacada 190; (8) La Grande 222; (9) Scappoose 231; (10) Sweet Home 249; (11) Philomath 250; (12) North Bend 286; (13) Baker 298; (14) Tillamook 362.

Boys Individual Results Top 20 plus Sweet Home finishers

(1) Jed Tolbert (Sr., Henley) 16:04; (2) Brady Beagley (Sr., North Valley) 16:17; (3) Parker Bennett (Sr., Sisters) 16:23; (4) Joseph Campbell (Sr., Siuslaw) 16:40; (5) Jacob Berkner (Sr., Siuslaw) 16:42; (6) Brad Finnell (Sr., Siuslaw) 16:49; (7) Earl Brown (Sr., Hidden Valley) 16:50; (8) Taylor Steele (Jr., Sisters), 16:55; (9) Zorg Loustalet, Soph., Henley) 17:00; (10) Parker Elder (Sr., Scappoose) 17:05; (11) Troy Prettyman (Sr., Estacada) 17:15; (12) Seth Schneider (Sr., Sisters) 17:18; (13) Aaron Bellini (Sr., Henley)17:22; (14) Remington Henderson (Sr., Henley) 17:25; (15) Nick Hall (Soph., Sweet Home) 17:26; (16) Garrison Iams (Soph., Henley) 17:26; (17) Sean O’Hollearn (Jr., La Salle) 17:29; (18) David Madison (Jr., Molalla) 17:31; (19) Cortland Henderson (Sr., Henley)17:32; (20) Nicholas Cooper (Soph., Pleasant Hill) 17:32; (57) Byron Sanders (Sr., Sweet Home) 18:26; (71) Jake Comstock (Sr., Sweet Home) 18:34; (90) Daniel Danforth (Fr., Sweet Home) 19:07; (94) Chris Thompson (Sr., Sweet Home) 19:11; (103) Casey Keys (Sr., Sweet Home) 19:18; (116) Lorenzo Virgen (Soph., Sweet Home) 20:16.

Girls Team Results

Marist 58; (2) Siuslaw 66; (3) Hidden Valley 106; (4) Cascade 147; (5) Banks 161; (6) Molalla 167; (7) Sweet Home 173; (8) Sisters 194; (9) Phoenix 207; (10) North Bend 216; (11) Scappoose 247; (12) Philomath 293; (13) La Grande 332; (14) Baker 349.

Individual Results €“ Top 20 Plus Sweet Home Finishers

(1) Raelyn Robinson (Jr., Siuslaw); (19:47); (2) Samantha Pummer (Sr., Siuslaw) 19:50; (3) Chelsea Spencer (Jr., Sutherlin) 20:10; (4) Patricia Guterrez (Sr., Cottage Grove) 20:16; (5) Katie Romanko (Jr., North Bend) 20:21; (6) Heidi Gori (Sr., Marist) 20:24; (7) Olivia Johnson (Jr., Sweet Home) 20:27; (8) Sierra Brown (Fr., Hidden Valley) 20:28; (9) Linda Paredes (Jr., Siuslaw) 20:33; (10) Shannon Walsh (Fr., Marist) 20:39; (11) Ashley Kinney (Sr., Cascade) 20:41; (12) Molly Bohrer (Fr., Marist) 20:51; (13) Alyssa Watson (Jr., Hidden Valley) 20:57; (14) Sara Reaser (Fr., Banks) 21:00; (15) Emily Sears (Soph., North Valley) 21:03; (16) Clarita Twombly (Sr., Siuslaw) 21:08; (17) Tia Carnahan (Fr., Scappoose) 21:11; (18) Jessica Markham (Jr., Banks) 21:12; (19) Jordan Huffman (Sr., Central) 21:17; (20) Casey Robertson (Jr., Illinois Valley) 21:21; (22) Carissa Swanson (Jr., Sweet Home) 21:27; (45) Caroline Amendola (Jr., Sweet Home) 22:21; (79) Paige Sanders (Fr., Sweet Home) 23:21; (89) Jessica Snow (Sr., Sweet Home) 24:05; (104) Jenna Kistner (Jr., Sweet Home) 24:51; (112) Natasha Perry (Sr., Sweet Home) 25:17.