Hood River Valley High School cross country runners were among the masses at Saturday’s Northwest Classic in Eugene. The event, held annually at Lane Community College, brought together several dozen teams from schools across the state to test their mid-season progress against one another and get a feel for the course many will aspire to see again in about six weeks at the Oregon state championships.
Coming off a hot and taxing home meet Sept. 11, Hood River’s varsity squads competed in ideal conditions Saturday in the 5A/6A division, against 28 teams for the boys and 23 for the girls.
As with the team’s first 5K of the season, Ricardo Castillo and Sascha Bockius led the way for their respective teams, with Castillo 33rd out of 189 runners with a time of 16:48 and Bockius 18th out of 157 with a time of 19:37.
“Conditions were perfect, especially after the sweltering heat and hills at our home course last week,” coach Kristen Uhler noted after the meet. “We had many PRs and many season’s bests competing in the 5A/6A division, which was extremely competitive.”
The race is run on a similar but not identical course as the state meet, to be held Nov. 2 for the top qualifying teams and individuals from each conference.
“Our kids ran the exact course after (the meet) for a cooldown, which hopefully the varsity will be racing the first weekend in November,” Uhler said. “This was a big, competitive meet. The kids need this kind of exposure to learn how to handle the pressure and be prepared for Nike Pre Nationals (Sept. 28, Portland Meadows Race Track) and to put our four-team league into perspective.”
Behind Castillo, Justin Crosswhite was the standout of the day for HRV with a PR-shattering time of 17:02, good enough for 50th place. The sophomore beat his time from last week by 90 seconds and his last year’s district conference time by 30 seconds.
“He almost broke 17-flat, which is a big milestone,” Uhler said. “Justin has a fantastic attitude, trained all summer and went to two running camps, so he is improving greatly, as expected.”
Quinn Fetkenhour and Carlos Chairez also set personal records at the meet.
On the girls side, Bockius improved from her Sept. 11 time by nearly 20 seconds to lead what Uhler says is a work in progress.
“We aren’t running a hundred percent yet,” Uhler said about the girls team. “Grace (Grim) didn’t race, Sascha was recovering from a cold and we ran Daisy Dolan in the JV race as she has been nursing some shin splints this past week.”
Uhler said Lauren Robinson and Kailee McGeer stepped-up the intensity to put in their best performances of the season, both finishing right around the 22-minute mark.
The team sends runners to two meets this week: the Bridgette Nelson Memorial Invitational Friday in The Dalles and the Nike Pre-Nationals Saturday.
HRV varsity girls: 12th out of 23,330 points
Winner: Ella Donaghu (so.), Grant, 17:43
Sascha Bockius, 18th, 19:37
Lauren Robinson, 64th, 21:25
Kailee McGeer, 21:55
Denali Emmons, 22:00
Madison Freeman, 22:51
Kainalu Bailey, 24:00
Varsity boys: 14 out of 27,393 points
Winner: Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski (sr.), Forest Grove, 15:41
Ricardo Castillo, 33rd, 16:48
Justin Crosswhite, 17:02
Quinn Fetkenhour, 17:55
Carlos Chairez, 18:03
Nils Engbersen, 18:06
Jorge Cuevas, 18:24
Nick Salter, 19:05