The 2002 cross-country season at HRV began with apprehension and ended with a bright ray of hope for the future.
Heading into the most difficult conference in the state — the Intermountain, which features state-title contenders Hermiston and Mountain View — the Eagles had to cope with the losses of four varsity girls and three varsity boys.
Not exactly the recipe for immediate success.
But a major youth movement was about to take place on both rosters, and although both teams finished fifth out of eight teams at district, the coaches have plenty to talk about for next year.
Girls coach Kristen Uhler was ecstatic with her new additions after three members of last year’s varsity team chose to participate in other activities this fall.
The freshman quartet of Brisa Jessup, Jenna Fisher, Janne Lucas and Jennifer Jefferies all moved into vital roles on the team, and were each competing at the varsity level by the Oct. 26 district meet.
Jessup, who started the season at No. 4 on the team, vaulted all the way into the No. 2 spot, and will help lead the team for the next three years.
“Brisa and a few others are ready to make the commitment jump, and have had some great role models in Christy Paul and Allison Byers,” Uhler said.
Uhler said she will also look to freshmen Christa Chandler and Susi Valle to help fill in next season, after Paul, Byers and Joyce Yang graduate.
The boys weren’t as lucky to augment their roster from the middle-school ranks, but by season’s end, they had four underclassmen running varsity. Sophomore Jess Jennings finished first on the team at the Oct. 26 district meet, while twin brother Chris finished sixth.
Another sophomore prodigy, Alex Jimenez, ran in the No. 1 spot for the team all season, and hopes to qualify for state in 2003 after a disappointing district finish this year.
Junior Jon Wherry, who ran in the seventh spot on varsity, will also return to a team that graduates three seniors: Jeff Fisher, Eric Avila and Jon Gehrig.
The Eagle boys will look to younger runners like Mat Foster, Graham Hay and Brian Crosswhite to help the team get back to a competitive level.
“We’ve got some maturing to do before next year if we’re going to be successful in the IMC,” coach Rich Hedges said.