Another competitive invitational race is under the HRV cross country team’s belt this season and with it, another long list of Eagles athletes who are performing at peak, as evidenced by the numerous personal records set this weekend.
At the George Fox Invitational on Saturday in Brooks, four out of the six runners on the boys squad set personal records and three out of seven did for the girls, with the boys placing third overall and the girls placing ninth against a table of 6A schools and competitive 5A teams.
“We’re starting to pop; we’re starting to come around…” said HRV coach Brandon Bertram. “We had some pretty good runners in there dropping some pretty stellar times. Pretty impressive.”
Justin Crosswhite (17th, 16:12.50)
Quinn Fetkenhour (20th, 16:17.70, PR)
Connor Truax (30th, 16:28.70, PR)
Jesse Wiley (31st, 16:33.10)
Jacob Bromham (48th, 16:50.20, PR)
Finn Peterson (79th, 17:43.60, PR)
Daisy Dolan (24th, 19:11.90, PR)
Lauren Robinson (31st, 19:31.40, PR)
Josie Peterson (53rd, 20:29.80, PR)
Denali Emmons (82nd, 21:29.70)
Sophia Marble (89th, 21:57)
Victoria Kohner-Flanagan (98th, 22:23.40)
Natalie Lapierre (112th, 23:30)
Despite the weather, which turned the course into a “muddy, puddly mess,” according to Bertram, the majority of HRV athletes posted either their fastest times of the season or the fastest times of their lives and were excited about the prospect of running in the mud… “true cross country,” as Bertram put it.
For the girls, the top three finishers of Daisy Dolan (24th), Lauren Robinson (31st), and Josie Peterson (53rd), all set personal records. Both Dolan and Robinson went sub-20 for the second time in their careers, with Dolan breaking her previous personal record that she set at her last race by nearly 40 seconds.
“That’s awesome,” Bertram said of Dolan’s times. “To come in here and run a lifetime best by a lot says a lot.”
Running season-best times were HRV’s fourth and fifth runners of Denali Emmons and Sophia Marble, who placed 82nd and 89th overall, respectively, with times of 21:29.7 and 21:57. Bertram was especially pleased with the effort of Emmons, whom he referred to as “the heartbeat” of the girls squad.
“Denali, for her to get her confidence and have a good race is huge,” he noted.
The confidence is important as both teams head into Columbia River Conference races, with Bertram saying that his goal for the girls was “to have a good confident race… and we got that.” He added that the girls are now “looking at the CRC and saying, ‘Wow, we have a chance in this.’”
For the boys, Quinn Fetkenhour, Connor Truax, Jacob Bromham, and Finn Peterson all set personal records, with Fetkenhour, Truax, Bromham all going sub-17. Bertram highlighted the performance of Truax, a sophomore who has been battling health issues this season, and went sub-17 for the first time in his career.
“He’s just been patient, patient, getting healthy, doing all the hard work, and it just popped,” he said.
Fetkenhour, one of the team captains, concurred.
“Connor had a great race, huge PR, more than 30 seconds,” he noted. “We knew he was a true competitor; he’s getting over a sickness and he got back into it (this race).”
Equally important were the performances of the five and six runners, Bromham and Peterson, whose personal records set Saturday show the depth of the team.
In both the girls and boys races, placing was decided by the final runners on the team thanks to a tiebreaker situation, although neither situation went in the Eagles’ favor, with HRV falling a place behind Sheldon in the boys race and Forest Grove in the girls race though they scored the same number of points (in cross country, only the top five score, but the sixth and seven runners are used in tiebreaker situations).
“That kind of opened their eyes to how important they are to the team,” Fetkenhour said of Bromham and Peterson.
Bertram said the boys team will focus on finishing stronger in their races, although with the season the boys are having, he acknowledged that “it’s been kind of nitpicking for where these guys can improve.”
The team travels to Pendleton on Thursday for the Kyle Burnside Wildhorse Invite, which Bertram characterized as a “pre-CRC,” referring to the district championship meet that will be held Oct. 24 in The Dalles. The girls varsity race on Thursday starts at 4 p.m. and the boys starts at 4:45. HRV has gotten its best look this season at rival Hermiston, which HRV was able to beat in multiple races this season.