By BOB WOOD
After having a very strong season, the Hood River Middle School cross country team hopes that its strength will carry over for state. The Panthers will send 11 runners to the Nov. 15 state meet, and coach Traci Lucas is excited.
“Our season went really well,” she said. “We ran against teams from the surrounding areas, and we generally had about five kids in the top seven.”
Among the runners going to state is eighth grader Anthony Walden. “This was Anthony's first year running with us,” said Lucas. “After the first few races, he was leading everybody.”
Joining Walden are eighth graders Ashley Braniff (who made it to nationals last year) and Alex Van Slyke.
“Alex has ran with us for three years and has improved every year,” said Lucas.
Also going to state are sixth graders Chris and Drew LaMaita, Hunter Knoll and Boo Lucas.
“Boo missed nationals by one place last year,” said coach Lucas, who is also Boo’s mom. “Age divisions go in increments of two years, and this year she’s in the younger end of hers.”
Sophomore Janne Lucas, who runs for Hood River Valley High School, will also be going to state with the team. And with such a strong showing this season, coach Lucas has high expectations for the Panthers.
“We’re looking for most of our kids to place high at state,” she said. “Then we hope to do the same at the regional level.”