Year of growth for Sweet Home’s cross-country runners

Scott Swanson

It’s been a year of growth for Sweet Home’s cross-country runners, most of whom were brand new to the sport in September.

In 10 days the Huskies will be able to demonstrate how much they’ve improved as they head to the district meet, hosted by Philomath on Saturday, Oct. 28.

Meanwhile, some of Sweet Home’s high-schoolers completed their final tune-up Friday, Oct. 13, at the Escape the Rock meet at Fort Rock State Park, east of Bend.

The Huskies’ numbers were down due to injuries and hunting trips, according to Coach Dave Martin.

In fact, just two girls made the trip.

Mckenzie Miller was third in the varsity race, finishing in 23:07 behind LaPine’s Libby Smith, who clocked 22:39.

“Mckenzie ran well, though the time doesn’t look like it,” Martin said of the sophomore, noting that the course at the park, which is close to 5,000 feet in elevation, was hilly.

In the boys varsity race, Ryker Burr was 12th out of 24 runners, finishing in 21:30, followed by freshman Conner Spencer, 15th in 21:37, and Cannon Klumph, 18th in 23:56.

“Ryker continues to look better and Conner ran well,” Martin said of the freshmen. Burr has only been able to run three races this season, due to injuries.

In the boys junior varsity race, Hunter Clark was third in a field of 23 runners, clocking 20:42, followed by Keagan Vogel in 23:28 and Trent Harvey, who ran 23:29. Christian Justham was 19th in 25:46.

“Hunter had another strong race,” Martin said of the freshman who’s cut a minute and a half off his 5,000-meter times in four races this season and who was just 20 seconds off his PR at Fort Rock.

In the girls JV race, Delainie Pratt was the only finisher for the Sweet Home girls, in 31:37.

Martin said he’s hoping the Huskies can get back to health in the next week, as they will face some of the top runners in the state, particularly on the girls side, at the district championships.

Philomath, on paper, is one of the top girls teams in the state, though since every cross-country course is different, times are simply advisory until the athletes actually meet in person at the same venue.

Based on season times, Miller stands the best chance to make state, which will require her to finish in the top five at districts.

Sweet Home’s last qualifier for state was Tanner Sayers, who finished second in the district meet as a junior in 2017.

Although Miller was ranked ninth in the district going into this week, following Fort Rock, it remains to be seen how she matches up to the league’s top runners, since Sweet Home has competed in mostly different meets than most of the league’s other teams, so it’s difficult to know for sure who’s faster until they face off Oct. 28.

Middle School Showdown

Sweet Home’s junior high runners ended their season Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Northwest Middle School Showdown at Avery Park in Corvallis.

On the girls side, eighth-grader Emma Whitton was eighth, in 12:22, out of 125 runners, about 30 seconds off the PR she’d set the week before at Philomath. The girls winner was eighth-grader Cassidy Smart of Philomath, a third-year cross-country runner, who ran 11:33.

Seventh-grader Cassie Spencer was 14th in 12:59, about a minute slower than the PR she’d set the week before, and seventh-grader Kali Vogel was 56th in 14:55, nine seconds off her PR.

On the boys side, eighth grader Evan Malabago was 31st out of 134 runners, finishing in 12:29, a personal best. Winner Brandon Wagar of Stayton, also an eighth-grader, finished in 10:42.

Eighth grader Wes Goff was 45th, running 13:00.

Eighth-grader Eli Adams was 123rd out of 169 runners in a second boys race, finishing in 17:33, a PR of 1:10 to finish the season.