By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
September 23, 2006
After running well at the Skip Sparks Invite last week on their home turf, the Hood River Valley Cross Country team was ready to see how well they shook out competing head to head against other Mt. Hood Conference Schools at a double-duel meet at Reynolds High School.
Among the three Mt. Hood schools in the in the race, Hood River, Sandy and Reynolds, Reynolds proved to be the team to beat. In head-to-head match- ups, both Hood River teams finished ahead of Sandy but behind Reynolds. Individually, however, Hood River showed it had several runners capable of taking on all challengers.
Leo Castillo finished second in the boys’ varsity meet, five seconds behind Franklin High School’s Bryce Burgess. It was the second straight meet Castillo and Burgess had dueled to the finish line and Castillo closed the gap after finishing 17 seconds behind Burgess at the Skip Sparks meet.
Andy Van Slyke finished 11th for the boys, just ahead of a pack of Reynolds runners. Van Slyke knocked 40 seconds off his time from the Skip Sparks invitational and came close to equaling his career best.
For the girls, Erin Jones finished first and took 14 seconds off her time from last week while Melissa Kaufman finished fourth and 32 seconds off her previous time.
Both runners bested the rest of the Mt. Hood girls’ field. The runners not only had to battle their opponents, but the weather as well, as they fought through wind and rain to the finish line.
“To see every kid improve so much on their time was very impressive,” Coach Rich Hedges said. “We ran so much smarter and even paced with strong finishes.”