BEND — The Hood River Valley cross-country teams found out last Saturday just how far they have to go to compete in the perennially stacked Intermountain Conference.
But after a pair of stellar performances at the Bend Cross-Country Classic, the Eagle boys and girls also realized how far they have come this season.
Led by junior Alex Jimenez’s fourth-overall finish of 17 minutes, one second, the boys placed sixth out of 13 teams in the “invitational” division. Meanwhile, the girls rode freshman Melissa Kauffman’s legs to a first-place finish in the JV race.
“The girls seem much more confident now,” girls coach Kristen Uhler said. “Our front-runner, Melissa, really wants to win, and Janne Lucas is right behind her. Our goal is to get our top five under 22 minutes, but we have still come a long way since the first couple meets.”
Kauffman’s time of 21:38 paced the Eagle girls, who were without two of their top runners, Komisa Schwartzel and Jennifer Jeffries.
Lucas was second on the team and fourth overall with a time of 22:43, while Melissa Princehouse finished third on the team and ninth overall at 23:45. Sophomore Jolie Hobbs was 11th overall at 23:59, and sophomore Jenna Fisher was 14th overall at 24:15.
“We’re gaining the vision, and have a lot more depth to our lineup now,” Uhler said. “We have plenty of time to prepare for districts, and it would be great to see more PR’s at Centennial on Wednesday.”
The HRV boys will also travel to Centennial High School today for their final district tune-up. Coach Rich Hedges said he was pleased with his team’s showing at the Bend Classic, but there is still room for improvement.
“All of our varsity runners must give it their all at districts if we are going to be competitive,” he said. “We have three of the top 10 teams in the state in our league, and it will be tough.”
Jimenez is the stand-alone No. 1 at this point, with Jess Jennings, Fernando Ochoa, Mat Foster and Graham Hay rounding out the top five.
Jennings finished second on the team at the Bend Classic with a 17:51 (24th overall), Ochoa was third at 18:11 (37th overall), Foster was fourth at 18:44 (60th overall), and senior Brian Crosswhite was fifth at 19:18. Hay clocked in at 20:01 (73rd overall), and sophomore Carlos Quintana finished at 20:06 for 75th overall.
“We now know what we have to do to compete at the Oct. 25 district meet,” Hedges said.