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Running hard at Skip Sparks

Hood River Valley High School cross country hosted the annual Skip Sparks Hood River Invitational Wednesday afternoon. With near-perfect running weather and 11 teams with 300 runners in attendance, the meet is only one of two home contests for Eagle runners this season. Teams return to the course Oct. 27, when Hood River hosts The Dalles, Pendleton and Hermiston for the Columbia River Conference championships.

Highlighting Eagle runners in the team’s first 5K race of the season was junior Grace Grim, who finished second in the varsity girls race in 19:47.46. Freshman Sascha Bockius followed 23 seconds later for a fourth-place finish, while Hermiston senior Maggie Coleman dominated the field for most of the course to finish first in just over 19 minutes. Kate Marwick of Hermiston finished third between Grim and Bockius to help the Bulldogs do a first-place team finish just two points ahead of Hood River.

Hermiston also won the boys team title, followed by Franklin, Cleveland, Wilson and Hood River in fifth.

“Our goals are to continue to improve as the season progresses, which is what we’re doing,” said coach Kristen Uhler. “For the boys team, we didn’t put our fastest lineup all at varsity. We have a lot of younger runners and our goal at this meet was to let some of them experience success at the junior varsity level rather than putting them at varsity and having them get lost in the middle of the pack. The girls finished just two points behind Hermiston, and we are a much deeper team. Hermiston has a few really strong runners, but not a lot of depth. If any one of them gets hurt, they’re in trouble. We have a lot more depth, so we feel pretty good about being able to beat them next time around.”

Uhler said the varsity lineup, particularly for the boys team, will change after this race, as some of the younger runners at JV are moved around. The Eagles’ JV boys and girls squads both finished first this week, with sophomore Jessica DeHart and junior Kailee McGeer finishing first and second for the girls and Ben Dane leading the way for the boys in third, followed by Charlie Sutherland in fourth and Justin Crosswhite in fifth.

HRV cross country is on the road for the rest of the season until the district meet. Next up is the Northwest Classic at Lane Community College next weekend. Hosting districts this year gives the team a home-field advantage, which is particularly valuable on a course like Hood River’s.

“People love the course because it’s so different than any other,” Uhler said. “It’s a real cross country course with hills and steps and bridges and forested trails. It’s much hillier and diverse than most, which will give us an advantage at districts because we can train for the course.”

HRV highlights:

Varsity girls

(Winner: Maggie Coleman, Hermiston, 19:08.59)

Grace Grim, 2nd, 19:47.46

Sascha Bockius, 4th,

20:10.28

Lauren Robinson, 11th,

21:45.68

Madison Freeman, 15th,

22:02.68

Denali Emmons, 17th,

22:08.88

Junior varsity girls

Jessica DeHart, 1st,

22:22.32

Kailee McGeer, 2nd, 22:37

Alia Burck, 4th, 23:40.30

Varsity boys

(Winner: Alejandro Cisneros, Hermiston, 16:19.01)

Ricardo Castillo, 9th,

16:57.08

Jorge Cuevas, 29th,

18:10.78

Miguel Cuevas, 30th,

18:12.70

Brodie Sutherland, 32nd,

18:32.67

Ryan Colesar, 51st,

19:55.34

Junior Varsity boys

Ben Dane, 3rd, 18:21.84

C. Sutherland 4th, 18:24.30

J. Crosswhite, 18:31.92

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