Calm, cool, cloudy weather. Home course advantage. Solid racing all season long.
Conditions were perfect for the HRV cross country team at Wednesday’s Columbia River Conference championship at the high school.
And both the girls and the boys executed a nearly perfect race.
For the first time, the HRV girls and boys both won the CRC title — the boys winning it for the second year in a row. In both scores and times, none of the other three CRC teams were close. The win gives both teams a trip to the 5A state championship next Saturday, which, like always, will be held at Lane County Community College in Eugene.
“Outstanding. No other words to describe it… That was by far the best race of the season for both the boys and the girls. They put it all together,” said an elated Brandon Bertram, head coach for the HRV girls and boys. He added that he wasn’t surprised though, as the team has been working hard all season.
“Everybody believed in each other and what they were doing and it showed,” he said Thursday morning. “It was awesome. It was very special yesterday.”
It was a muddy race on what Bertram called one of the most challenging — if not the most challenging — cross country courses in the state, which was reflected in the fact that only three runners total, of any team in either the boys or girls race, posted personal records.
But times aren’t all that important in cross country, especially in a championship race — it’s about how many bodies you can put in front of your opponent.
And HRV put about as many bodies in front as they could. The girls nearly achieved a perfect score of 15 points, putting runners in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth spots to score 18 points. The boys scored 23 points and put their top five in first, second, fifth, sixth, and ninth. The next closest team to the girls was The Dalles with 45 points. For the boys, it was also The Dalles, with 48.
Jesse Wiley led the way for the boys, clocking in at 17 minutes, 8.32 seconds to place first overall. Jacob Bromham ran with him the entire race and finished in second place — just 1.28 seconds behind his teammate. Connor Truax, Elkin Parker, and Omar Quintana rounded out the HRV top five and hung close with the top runners — times were all within a minute of Wiley’s.
For the girls, Daisy Dolan and Lottie Bromham had a similar finish. Dolan took first overall with a time of 20:14.4 and Bromham was a mere 1.37 seconds behind her in second. The two have been neck-and-neck in may races this season and Bertram said if they could saw the trophy in half, they would.
“They both deserve it. Ever since the start of the season, they haven’t been competitive against each other, but have worked together to make the team better,” Bertram said. “Obviously, that has worked.”
Dolan and Bromham were lonely at the front of the race, pacing the third-place runner, Emma Mullins, of The Dalles, by over a minute. Mullins hung with HRV’s top two runners for the majority of the race until Dolan and Bromham shook their tail in the final mile.
Like the boys, the girls finished fairly close together — the range in time between HRV’s first runner to their last runner (Josie Petersen, 10th place) was about 1:45. Evelyn Nuñez, Celia Acosta, and Reed Bauer finished 4, 5, 6, and prevented any other team from having a chance.
Further pleasing Bertram, no runner on either the boys or the girls team fell back a place in the final mile of the 3.1-mile race, and many gained spots. And while this race was muddier and more challenging the last month’s Skip Sparks Invitational on the same course, several runners ran faster than they did the previous race, including Nuñez, who finished an incredible two-and-a-half minutes quicker on Wednesday.
Looking ahead to next Saturday’s 5A state championship, Bertram would like to see an improvement over last year, where the boys finished fourth and the girls finished 11th. Bertram noted that the Eagles times these year “don’t reflect how good we are” because they have chosen to run on some challenging courses. HRV could very well be entering the state race as a bit of a sleeper, but Bertram certainly is aware of what his athletes can do with this opportunity.
“We’re very excited. We would be no matter how yesterday turned out,” he said. “That doesn’t really change much as far as our goals go. We want to move our trophies up on both sides.”
Girls team results:
- HRV (18) 2. The Dalles (45) 3. Hermiston (73) 4. Pendleton (102)
Boys team results:
- HRV (23) 2. The Dalles (48) 3. Hermiston (71) 4. Pendleton (88)
HRV INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
Daisy Dolan (20:14.40)
Lottie Bromham (20:15.77)
Evelyn Nuñez (21:20.33)
Celia Acosta (21:24.04)
Reed Bauer (21:42.57)
Josie Petersen (21:59.76)
Jesse Wiley (17:08.32)
Jacob Bromham (17:09.60)
Connor Truax (17:32.86)
Elkin Parker (17:41.55
Omar Quintana (18:01.52)
Finn Peterson (18:17.39)
Muir Emmons (20:05.37)