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Cross-country boys kick off season with fifth place at Ultimook


September 11, 2019

Scott Swanson

SWEET HOME'S Tristan Saultz negotiates a river crossing during the Ultimook Race in Tillamook Saturday.

Sweet Home's cross-country runners got their feet wet – very literally – Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Ultimook Race at Hydrangea Ranch in Tillamook.

The competition, held on a hydrangea flower farm, included a mud pit that veteran cross-country watchers agreed was one of the muckiest they'd ever seen, along with a pair of river crossings.

It was not a course that lent itself to personal bests, but it gave the many newcomers to the Huskies program a taste of what the sport could be like.

"I think it went very well, considering it's not a typical cross-country course," Coach Kambria Schumacher said. "It will be exciting to see what they do on a normal course."

They will find out Thursday, Sept. 12, when Sweet Home hosts its second annual invitational meet on the grounds at Community Chapel, 42250 Ames Creek Drive and neighboring GB's Trees Christmas Tree farm. Although the course includes a creek crossing and a short but steep hill climb, it will be a better indicator of what may be in store for the Huskies, time-wise, this year.

The Tillamook race drew more than 100 teams from Oregon and Washington, divided into small- and large-school competitions.

Sweet Home's boys were fifth in the varsity 5000 race, which was won by Newport (79 points), followed by Philomath (93), Columbia River (Wash., 121), Toppenish (Wash., 223) and the Huskies (238). Stayton was 11th with 349 points.

Senior Tristan Saultz placed 15th in a field of 241runners to pace the Sweet Home boys, finishing in 17:39.96.

"Tristan's time was good time for that type of course," Schumacher said.

Junior Gavin Walberg was second for the Huskies, 27th in 17:39.78, followed by junior Treyson Smith, 42nd in 19:15.43; sophomore Jorel Leyba, 68th in 19:44.80; and junior Tristan Calkins, 95th in 27:27.45.

Senior Ben Kirby of Stayton was the overall winner, in 16:50.56, followed by Philomath junior Grant Hellesto in fourth (17:04.96), Newport sophomore Sam Laurel in 12th (17:37.49) and Newport senior Tristan Scarborough in 14th (17:39.57).

"Jorel did really well," Schumacher said, noting that this was Leyba's first high school race after playing football last year. "He didn't know what to expect. Newbie jitters. I expect him to do really well this year."

In the girls varsity 5000, junior Jessy Hart was 30th in a field of 158 runners, 23:41.24. Junior Sicily Neuschwander was 108th (28:14.05), followed closely by junior Summer Hicks in 110th (28:34.87).

Sweet Home also fielded a boys junior varsity team, which also ran 5,000 meters.

Senior Zach Zanona was the top finisher, 53rd overall in a field of 181, in 22:59.40, followed by senior Bryce Porter (54th, 23:02.59), senior Eric Roddy (73rd, 23:48.15), sophomore Jesse Jamison (97th, 24:53.08), sophomore Aiden Shamek (115th, 24:53.08), and senior Jaren Adams (143rd, 27:41.90).

SUMMER HICKS battles out of the mudpit, which greatly increased running times for many.

In the 3,000-meter Novice race, freshman Meeja Bitter was sixth among 37 runners in her first cross-country meet, finishing in 16:27.62, followed by senior Lexi Schilling (11th, 17:35.38), also a rookie in the sport.

Schumacher said Bitter's performance was "exciting."

"That was her first race ever. I expect her to do really well."

The Husky Invitational starts at 3 p.m. Thursday, with middle school races at Community Chapel. Admission is free. Junior varsity races start with the girls at 4 p.m. and the varsity girls run at 5, followed by the boys at 5:40.

Teams expected include Cascade, Crescent Valley, East Linn Christian, Eddyville, Jefferson, La Pine, Lebanon, Madras, Mohawk, Oregon School for the Deaf, Pleasant Hill and Triangle Lake.


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