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Ready for state

November 5, 2005

With torrential downpours throughout week, training for the 4A state cross country meet was tough. After cold and wet workouts early in the week, coaches Kristin Uhler and Rich Hedges decided to give Leo Castillo, Erin Jones and Melissa Kauffman a break from the rain on Thursday with some light indoor training, complements of Big Gym.

The three Hood River Valley High School runners qualified for state as individuals at last weekend’s Intermountain Conference district meet in Prineville.

Castillo placed third in the boys’ meet with a time of 16:07, while Jones placed fourth at 18:34 and Kauffman fifth at 19:18 in the girls’ meet. Of the three, Kauffman is the only one with state experience.

The state cross country meet, held each year at Lane Community College in Eugene, is the big show for Oregon’s top high school runners and teams. The course is flat and fast, and the 4A boys’ and girls’ lineups will be about 150 runners wide. Last year’s 4A state champion times were 15:35 for the boys and 18:19 for the girls, with Jesuit taking the team titles for both.

Despite the painfully intense 5,000 meter race ahead of them, the three were relaxed and light-hearted Thursday; poised in the face of their biggest race of the year.

“I think about a quote from Prefontine,” Castillo said. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

“You know you’re giving your personal best when it really hurts,” Kauffman said.

Jones, a freshman at HRVHS, added with a smile, “Being one of the youngest on the team means I had to work harder. Girls like Melissa (Kauffman) helped push me towards my best.”

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