The necessity for pain tolerance in cross country is unrivaled by any other high school sport.
Wrestling is a close second, but a lot more comes into play there. With cross country, runners are in pain basically from start to finish. Some suffer less than others, but that’s usually because they’ve suffered more ahead of time in training.
“There’s a certain point in every race where you pretty much feel like you’re going to die,” said Grace Grim, Hood River Valley High School’s top varsity girls cross country runner. “You have to be willing to go through that pain if you want to win. You have to fight through it; the faster you run the faster you are done.”
As a junior and first-year cross country runner, Grim passed a huge milestone over the weekend at the Adidas Cross Country Classic in Portland. Her 18:09.7 5,000 meter time was fast enough for a ninth place finish in the race’s varsity elite division and is a new school record for that distance.
The record replaces the previous one set in 2007 by Erin Jones (18:17.54).
“I have run my whole life, I was just busy with other things in the fall,” Grim said before practice this week. “I was always curious if I’d be good at racing and this year I decided to go for it.”
Grim said she grew up running in the Post Canyon area, which is why cross country was such a natural fit. With less than two weeks before the district meet (Oct. 27 at HRVHS), she has her sights set on beating Hermiston’s senior standout Maggie Coleman, who is favored as the top conference runner and one of the fastest in the state. Earlier this year, at the Hood River Invitational, Grim finished second with a time of 19:47; 39 seconds behind Coleman. She’s closing that gap, however; at Saturday’s meet Grim was just seven seconds behind Coleman.
“I want to beat her when it counts; at the district and state meets,” Grim said of Coleman.
“Grace has the right make-up to be a champion runner,” said coach Kristen Uhler. “She absolutely hates to lose, has a high pain tolerance, is very intelligent and a fantastic student and possesses tremendous aerobic potential.”
With just one more meet before the Columbia River Conference district championships, HRVHS’s fastest runners are fighting for the boys’ and girls’ top seven varsity positions. The team is training hard with the goal of qualifying both varsity squads for the state meet at Lane Community College on Nov. 3.
To challenge the runners as a lead-up to districts, Uhler entered both boys and girls in the elite divisions of Saturday’s meet.
“There were other divisions we could have entered, but we chose to race in the most competitive to see how we would stack up,” Uhler said. “
The boys placed 27th out of 40 teams and the girls were 11th out of 35.
Ricardo Castillo, 16:57, 84th
Jorge Cuevas, 17:34, 142nd
Miguel Cuevas, 17:45 - 153rd
Ben Dane, 17:55, 162nd
Juan Carlos Rios, 17:56, 165th
Justin Crosswhite, 18:18, 184th
Charlie Sutherland, 18:22, 187th
Grace Grim, 18:09, 9th*
NEW SCHOOL RECORD
Sascha Bockius, 19:25, 32nd
Lydia Gildehaus, 20:53, 102nd
Lauren Robinson, 21:09, 115th
Althea Dillon, 21:22, 122nd
Denali Emmons, 21:48, 143rd