The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

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By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Cross-country boys return experience; girls need runners

 

August 29, 2017

CROSS-COUNTRY team members are, in front, from left, Connor Ford, Summer Hicks, Eric Roddy and Jaren Adams. In the second row, from left, are Zoe James, Zachary Zanona, Jake Hindmarsh, Corban Wright, Bryce Porter and Jessy Hart. In the third row, from left, are Tanner Sayers, Noah Dinsfriend, Tristan Saultz, Gavin Walberg, Cameron Taber and Noah Taraski.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Sweet Home’s cross-country program has experienced some bumps in the road over the past several years.

This season the Huskies start with their second new coach in as many years, but Kambria Schumacher brings personal experience with the program as both an athlete and an assistant. Her work will be cut out for her, however, as the girls program remains in a depleted state from what it was as recently as 2013, when they last qualified for the state championships.

As of last week, Sweet Home had three girls on the roster and Schumacher, who was handed the job literally a few days before fall practices opened, is looking for more.

“I’d really like to try to get a girls team together this year,” she said. The Huskies need five runners to be able to compete as a team at the district meet. Schumacher said she is hoping to at least find a couple of athletes in other sports who would be willing to double.

One of the state’s top triathletes, she has won the Best in the West sprint triathlon, held the second week in September at Lewis Creek Park, every year she has competed in it, and brings expertise as someone who personally has experienced everything she is going to ask her athletes to do (see page 19).

On the boys side, the Huskies look like a team that is going somewhere. They are coming off a fourth-place finish at last year’s district championships, but it was a lot closer than that, just 11 points between them and first-place Cottage Grove.

As of Friday the boys roster had 13 names.

“I think we will have a strong side for the boys,” Schumacher said. “Besides the seniors who graduated, the rest came back out.”

Leading the returnees is junior Tanner Sayers, who, she said, “got a really good base over the summer.”

Sayers won the Hero Half Marathon on Memorial Day weekend on a hilly course and in warm weather in what was his first attempt at the distance. He placed second to a former college runner in the 3.5-mile Solar Eclipse Run on Aug. 19.

“Tanner is way ahead versus the ones who didn’t train during the summer,” Schumacher said. “They’re playing catch-up. He should have a good year.”

Also back from last year’s varsity are junior Noah Dinsfriend, who is doubling with soccer as he’s done the past two years, seniors Ricky Yunke and Noah Taraski, and sophomore Zach Zanona.

Rounding out the team are seniors Jake Hindmarsh and Cameron Taber, who swung between varsity and junior varsity races last year; sophomores Connor Ford, Bryce Porter, Eric Roddy, Tristan Saultz and Corban Wright; and freshman Jaren Adams.

On the girls side are sophomore Zoe James, and freshmen Jessy Hart and Summer Hicks, all of whom come with track experience.

James qualified for the state track championships last year in the 400 and was also one of the top high jumpers in the league.

“I think Zoe is going to improve a lot this year. Jessy looks like she has a lot of potential as well,” Schumacher said prior to Hicks’ joining the team.

She said she hadn’t had a chance to analyze how the Huskies are likely to match up to the rest of the league.

The fact that 11 points separated the top four teams in last year’s district race indicates that this year will be a competitive one in the Sky-Em league. Seven of the top 10 runners were juniors or younger, three from Cottage Grove. The other teams in the top four were Junction City, which finished second, and Elmira.

On the girls side, Sisters won its sixth straight district team title and since five of the Outlaws’ seven finishers, all in the top 13, were juniors or less, including district champion Anna Bartlett, they look like the team to beat once again.

The Huskies are scheduled to compete Thursday, Aug. 31, in a warm-up 5,000-meter timed run in Independence.

They will officially open their season Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Darrel Deedon Invitational at Cascade High School. Their schedule includes two new races for this team: the Nike Portland XC at Portland Meadows Race Track on Sept. 30, and the George Fox XC Classic at Willamette Mission State Park in Brooks.

Schumacher said she’s optimistic about the boys’ chances.

“I think they’ll have a pretty good varsity team this year because they have a lot of returners,” she said. “I think they should compete well this year. They seem motivated.”

 
 

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