Boys cross-country keeps pace

In the sport of cross-country, it’s all about gradual improvement and peaking at the right time.

And, while the HRV boys have encountered some uneven terrain during their first five meets, they appear to be right on track for the Oct. 26 Intermountain Conference district competition in Bend.

“We have three weeks left to continue to improve before the tough IMC district meet,” said coach Rich Hedges, whose team has competed twice in the past week. “We are running faster and smarter with every meet, and that’s a good sign.”

Leading the way at Wednesday’s PIL/Mt. Hood Cross-Over meet in Portland was sophomore No. 1 Alex Jimenez, who set a personal record time of 16:46 — a time that places him among the top 10 HRV runners of all time.

Jimenez finished 16th overall to lead the Eagles, who wound up sixth out of 20 teams. Also blazing to PR times on Wednesday were sophomore Jess Jennings (17:24, 24th overall) and senior captain Eric Avila (17:45, 32nd overall).

Fellow senior team captain Jeff Fisher finished fourth on the team and 42nd overall with a time of 17:59, while sophomore Matt Foster ran an 18:38 to finish 56th overall and round out the Eagles point winners.

“Jeff ran a smart race the first two miles, leading some of our other runners to the first couple mile markers,” Hedges said. “He tailed off a bit the last mile, but it was still a good showing.”

Senior Brian Crosswhite (19:04, 70th overall) and freshman Kevin Dye (19:23, 81st overall) rounded out the varsity times. Sophomore Chris Jennings had a superb outing for the Eagles JV team, winning the race in 18:30. Hedges said that performance would be enough to move him into the No. 6 varsity slot for the next race.

Senior No. 2 Jon Gehrig did not run Wednesday, but competed well in last Saturday’s Northwest Classic at Lane Community College in Eugene. Gehrig broke the 18-minute mark to finish 58th overall (17:56) against an elite field, which included IMC favorite, Hermiston.

Hedges said the Eagles ran “fair at best” in Eugene to finish 14th out of 20 schools. Jimenez again led the way for HRV, finishing 39th overall with a time of 17:27. He was followed by Gehrig, Fisher (18:21, 74th overall), Jess Jennings (18:26, 80th overall), Avila (19:04, 111th overall), Crosswhite (19:53, 121st overall), and junior Jon Wherry (20:35, 132nd overall).

“We continued to show improvement even though it wasn’t our best race,” Hedges said. “I was most impressed with the JV’s, who are showing that they are going to compete for those last couple varsity spots at district.”

Foster posted the top JV time of 19:34 at the Northwest Classic, placing him 51st out of 250 runners. Graham Hay, Chris Jennings, Dye and Joseph Broschart also had strong showings. The Eagles have a week off before an Oct. 12 meet at Summit High School.

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