Photo by Robin Dickenson
PODIUM pride: Frances Dickenson savors the top tier at the 5A Cross Country Championship Saturday. To her right is teammate Brinna Weiseth, second, and her sister, Josephine Dickenson, at left, who placed fifth and backed up Frances in her strategic final-600-meter burst. Evelyne Nunez, far right, finished ninth.
Junior Frances Dickenson and freshman teammate, Brinna Weiseth, finished a tight first and second and the Hood River Valley Eagles captured the first state championship for HRV Cross Country women since 1993 on Saturday.
The Eagles team won the 5A crown with 43 points. The nearest teams were Wilsonville and Crater with 94, in the annual event at Lane Community College in Eugene.
“It’s super-exciting. I was mostly excited going into this race and working really hard all season and putting in the work. Our whole team deserved this outcome,” Dickenson said.
Dickenson won in 18:40 and Weiseth finished in 18:42 — a new HRV freshman record. Less than five seconds separated the top four runners: Dickenson, Weiseth, Madeline Nason of Corvallis (18:43) and Sophie Fisher of Crescent Valley (18:44.) Josephine Dickinson of HRVHS came in fifth in 18:50.
The HRV boys earned a sixth place finish with only 14 points keeping them from third place. Josh Haynes and Omar Quintana earned second team all-state with 11th and 14th place finishes.
Keeping close quarters in cross country works for strategy and in scoring. Hood River Valley coalesced for three runners finishing in the top five finishers and four in the top 10 on the 5,000-meter (3.1 mile) course.
Evelyne Nunez was the fourth Eagle in the top 10, finishing in ninth in 19:10. Chloe Bullock was the fifth runner for HRV, placing 28th; Lottie Bromham and Mieka McKnight finished out the HRV XC girls team with 37th and 54th place finishes.
“The conditions weren’t too true to the usual Oregon State Meet, which is usually 45 degrees and raining. We were given a partly sunny day and 55 degrees,” said coach Brandon Bertram.
Frances gave this account of the race:
“Going out, at mile one and two, my coach wanted me to stick with the front pick, and I knew there would be some girls in the lead pack I would have good competition with, so I focused on our ‘bullets’: Not getting too worn out, making sure each mile to put in surges, and making moves as we go.
“I was surprised at the second mile our group was five or six girls and in the last 800 meters, we spread out; in the last 600 meters, I felt really good,” she said. “I felt good throughout the race, but didn’t know how it would play out if I made moves at mile one or two, so I played it safe. But at 600 meters I pushed with that last bullet in mind: Make a move. In that split second, make a move now and finish strong or wait until I hit the track on the last 200 (meters). I decided to make the move earlier and it paid off.
“My really good teammate, Brinna, responded really well to that and followed right behind me when I made that move,” she said. “Sophie (Fisher) from Crescent Valley and Samantha (Prusse) from Wilsonville, who were in lead pack all race didn’t move up with me.
“It felt good to have her there, and to finally leave those girls and have a bigger gap, and it felt really good to have a Hood River girl right behind.”
Bertram said, “Brinna followed the lead of her teammate, taking over second place. Josephine passed five girls in the final half mile while Evelyn followed suit passing four more girls in the same distance. Bullock earned all-state honorable mention honors with her strong performance. Lottie Bromham’s inspiring leadership was an added motive behind a brave performance by all of the girls.”
In other boys’ results, Joshua Humann earned all-state honorable mention with a 28th place finish. Raine Melby and Braeden Blakeny finished the Eagles scoring with 48th and 57th place finishes. Ben Kaden and Geoffrey Schoaff were the sixth and HRV runners in 78th and 82nd.
Bertram also noted that the boys surpassed their 10th place ranking coming into the race.
“We had amazing support of parents, family, friends and teachers make the trip to support the team including former HRV cross country coaches Kristen Uhler and Rich Hedges. AD Trent Kroll and former AD Tom Ames also came to support,” Bertram said.
“I am lucky enough to work with this group of girls. Their commitment to the process beginning way back in June embedding a belief in each other and being able to watch those goals come to fruition throughout the season embodies everything that is rewarding about coaching,” he said.
“The boys put together a great season piece by piece, learning from every day. With such a young team, they showed they will be team to watch in the coming seasons.”