EUGENE — For a young team to build confidence, it can’t be thrown to the wolves week in and week out.
So instead of having her team run against the best teams in the West at last Saturday’s Northwest Classic, Hood River Valley girls cross-country coach Kristen Uhler chose to enter her team in the junior varsity race instead.
And the plan worked, as the Eagles ran to a seventh-place finish out of 18 teams.
Led by sophomore Janne Lucas (30th overall) and freshman Melissa Kauffman (31st overall), HRV finished with a score of 220.
Sophomore Jennifer Jeffries was third on the team in 44th overall, while sophomore Jolie Hobbs was 51st, and senior Caitlin Becker was 64th.
“Our plan was to run up front and compete in the JV race,” Uhler said. “And despite the heat, most of the girls ran PR’s.”
Uhler said she wants her team to experience what it’s like to run toward the front of the pack, and in order for a young team to be competitive, sometimes it has to run against younger competition.
“This was a real learning experience,” she said. “We have been running JV times of late, and I think it’s for the best right now to run JV races.”
The Northwest Classic, held at Lane Community College, attracts the top teams in the Northwest, and provides an excellent midseason barometer for a team’s progress.
And after last Saturday’s race, the HRV boys discovered that they have a little ways to go before they can be considered one of the best in the Northwest.
The Eagle boys placed 19th out of 22 teams in the varsity race, with junior Alex Jimenez clocking in first at 49th overall (official times not available).
“Half of the team ran well in the heat, but the other half struggled,” boys coach Rich Hedges said. “The 95-degree temperatures definitely made it tough on everybody, and as a result, we took a small step backward.”
But, while the results weren’t as astounding as the Sept. 20 race at Seaside, Hedges said he was pleased with the progress of some of his runners.
“Chris Jennings and Kevin Dye outran two varsity runners, and they will jump up to varsity for our next race (today at Grant High School),” he said. “We need to run faster and pack better, but we have still trained very well the past two weeks.”
Hedges said that Jimenez had an “off day,” finishing behind 10 runners from Intermountain Conference rivals Mountain View and Hermiston.
Senior Fernando Ochoa finished second on the team, followed by senior Graham Hay, junior Jess Jennings and sophomore Carlos Quintana.
Senior Brian Crosswhite and junior Mat Foster each had rough outings, and will have to earn their way back onto varsity at today’s P.I.L. Crossover meet.
The JV boys finished 14th out of 23 teams, and were led by Chris Jennings, Dye, K.C. Christiansen, Gary Paasch, Ian Myer, Victor Martinez and Louis DeSitter.