WARRENTON — Trying to capitalize on a strong first-meet performance at the Sept. 11 Skip Sparks Invitational, the HRV boys and girls cross-country teams traveled to Camp Rilea on the Oregon Coast last Saturday for the Three-Course Challenge.
Hosted by Seaside High School, the 12th-annual event attracted nearly 150 teams from four states, and featured three courses that were labeled easy, moderate and difficult. The top seven runners from each team randomly drew the course they would run, and both separate and combined standings were kept.
Making the weekend all the more enjoyable, both Eagles teams had positioned themselves in the top four among Division II schools (901-1,400 students) after all three races were completed.
“The courses can be pretty brutal,” said girls coach Kristen Uhler, whose team tallied 388 total points. “Easy is long and rolling, moderate is hilly with sandy footing and water crossings, and difficult is the ultimate in cross-country running.”
Girls No. 1 Christy Paul drew the easy course, and finished in first place by more than a half minute. Freshman Jenna Fisher finished second on the team on the easy course. (Times were irrelevant, however, as the exact distances of the courses were not known.)
Two more freshmen, Brisa Jessup and Jennifer Jeffries helped the Eagles earn points on the moderate course, while seniors Joyce Yang and Allison Byers were the top finishers on the difficult course, along with freshman Janne Lucas.
For the boys team, sophomore No. 1 Alex Jimenez was the top finisher, taking 12th out of 279 runners on the moderate course. Also recording points in the moderate race was senior Eric Avila, who finished 37th overall.
Senior co-captain Jon Gehrig led the way on the difficult course, finishing 36th overall, and was followed by Jess Jennings in 60th and Joseph Broschart in 117th. Finally, senior Jeff Fisher placed 36th out of 271 runners on the easy course, and junior Jon Wherry placed 75th to round out the points winners.
“This team is getting better each week,” said coach Rich Hedges, whose team also won the Class Act award. “I’m very impressed with their work ethic. The new league is helping us train harder because there are fewer meets to wear us down.”
Both the boys and girls teams travel to Lane Community College in Eugene this weekend for the Northwest Classic — the site of the state competition. Paul will have her first test of the season, taking on fellow state front runners Meagan Armstrong of Tualatin and Erin Grey of South Eugene.
“Christy is confident she can give anyone a run for her money,” said Uhler.