Miller leads Husky girls in first big cross-country competition
September 21, 2022
Sweet Home's cross-country teams got their first crack at the 5,000-meter distance Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Northwest Classic, held at Lane Community College, the site of the state cross-country meet.
Although the heat wasn't particularly excessive, the dust was, Coach Dave Martin said of the meet, which included 30-plus teams on both the boys and girls sides, including many of the state's large schools and some from out of state.
Since Sweet Home's runners are mostly new to the sport, Martin had them compete in the junior varsity races, which were big fields in themselves.
Sweet Home's girls finished ninth out of 20 teams in the team JV race. Freshman McKenzie Miller led the Huskies with a 15th-place finish in a field of 150 runners, running 22:09.00.
Rylee Markell, like Miller, continued steady improvement, finishing 26th in 23:00.60.
"McKenzie ran way faster than I expected her to," Martin said. "Rylee ran a minute and a half faster than she did at Stayton (a week earlier). She's taken almost three minutes off her time this season."
The two ran together for two miles – clocking 14:30 for that distance, before Miller pulled away, he said.
"They both had tremendous races. I'm really pleased," Martin said.
The other finishers for the Huskies were Natiyah Walters-Keonig (96th in 26:24.20), Amelia Sullens (98th in 26:25.80), Peyton Markell (109th in 27:10.90) and Meeja Bitter (146th in 32:27.10).
"The other girls ran well," Martin said. "I think both Meeja and Amelia were not feeling great, but they both ran mentally tough."
Lincoln won the girls JV race, tying South Eugene with 63 points, but winning on the sixth (usually non-scoring runner).
In the boys JV race, Ethan Delibertiss was the top finisher for Sweet Home, at 130th in a field of 260, running 20:48.70.
After the girls race, Martin noted, the course got very dusty, which affected his young runners. But he said he was happy to note that nobody had a blazing finish, which meant they left it on the course.
"All the guys were complaining," he said. "It was a hot, dry course. There was a lot of dust. Almost everybody who finished had grime on them.
"I know all the guys ran tough, ran as well as could. They ran hard and they were tired."
Other finishers for Sweet Home were Jim Morgan, 188th in 22:54.20, followed by Adrian Kast (193rd in 23:14.10), Vegas Mauer (206th in 23:47.60), and Will Jewell (244th in 27:12.50).
Sweet Home's team finished 28th out of 32 teams, with 837 points. Lincoln won with 46 points, placing its top six runners in among the top 17 finishers.
"Overall, I'm really satisfied," Martin said, noting that his runners are connecting what they do in practice with what's happening in races.
"I think we've learned some things. They've learned that they can run the distance, and they've learned that they can do better.
"I'm real happy. We're making good progress as a team."
Up next for the Huskies is the Harrier Classic at Bryant Park in Albany Saturday, Sept. 24. The meet is expected to draw even more teams than more than 40 schools from around the state and Washington. The JV races will be divided into upper- and underclassmen for boys and girls, with a separate varsity race following.