Hood River Valley High School cross country had a busy weekend of running in the rain. The varsity squad was at the Portland Meadows race track Saturday, battling blustery conditions and hundreds of racers in one of the largest cross country meets in the Northwest — the Nike Pre Nationals. Meanwhile, HRV’s junior varsity runners competed Friday in The Dalles, as the varsity lineup in the annual Bridgette Nelson Memorial Invitational.

With continued improvement on all fronts, coach Kristen Uhler says the goal for the next few weeks is to stay focused with individual and team goals — particularly through this week’s Homecoming festivities — in preparation for the Columbia River Conference Championships now less than a month away (Oct. 26 at Pendleton).

Racing in the Nike Pre’s Division 2 category, the HRV girls finished fifth out of 25 teams and the boys were ninth out of 25. Ricardo Castillo led the Eagle boys among a field of 170 runners to finish 10th overall, while the HRV girls saw sophomore standout Sascha Bockius lead a pack of 156 until the final stretch, when a runner from Vancouver, British Columbia’s West Point Grey High School passed her to nab the win three seconds ahead of Bockius in second.

“We raced appropriately in Division 2, which was much more competitive and deep than last year — more competitive than Division 1 even,” Uhler said. “Sascha led the whole race in the wind and rain and the girl from British Columbia kicked on her right at the end. That’s just what Sascha wants to do in her next big race. It was a great learning experience; she went out like a champion and gave it her all.”

For the boys, Uhler said “this may be our best team in years. They are focused, hungry and led by great captains in Ricardo Castillo and Jorge Cuevas. The boys are focused on their goal of being district champions and qualifying for the state meet.”

Friday’s Bridget Nelson Invitational at Sorosis Park in The Dalles gave the Eagles’ junior varsity squad a taste of varsity action six Gorge-area teams. The hosting Eagle-Indians won both boys and girls team titles, while HRV finished third in the boys lineup and fifth in the girls. Torbjoern Joerstad, an exchange student from Norway, earned praises from Uhler for his seventh-place finish to lead the squad of seven HRV boys. On the girls side, sophomore Jenna Powell was the first to finish for HRV at 14th overall.

The Eagles run this Friday at the Oxford Classic in Bend against about 25 other high schools, many from the Central Oregon region. The following week they travel to North Marion for the Adidas XC Classic, with about 75 teams scheduled to attend. A five-way meet at Aloha follows on Oct. 16 before a 10-day break to fine-tune before the conference championships. As of this week, the Hermiston boys hold the fastest two times of the season, with Castillo a close third (16:43.49, Hood River Invitational) and the girls field is led by Pendleton sophomore Delaney Clem, who holds a two-second lead over Bockius’s fastest time of 19:37, posted at the Northwest Classic.

Varsity at Nike Pre:

Boys team: 9th out of 25

Ricardo Castillo, 10th, 17:21.35

Justin Crosswhite, 37th, 17:49.80

Jorge Cuevas, 60th, 18:11.24

Quinn Fetkenhour, 75th, 18:24.67

Nils Engbersen, 83rd, 18:31.94

Carlos Chairez, 86th, 18:36.94

Charlie Sutherland, 124th, 19:06.36

Girls team: 5th out of 23

Sascha Bockius, 2nd, 19:47.51

Lauren Robinson, 43rd, 22:12.87

Althea Dillon, 46th, 22:14.76

Daisy Dolan, 57th, 22:26.40

Sophia Marble, 58th, 22:26.93

Kailee McGeer, 65th, 22:34.64

Denali Emmons, 102nd, 23:47.21

JV at Bridget Nelson:

Boys team: 3rd out of 6

Tjorbjoern Joerstad, 7th, 18:54.2

Miguel Cuevas, 15th, 19.15.5

Rafael Villegas, 17th, 19:41.4

Daniel Fischer, 23rd, 20:09.9

Jacob Bromham, 29th, 20:59.9

Chase Colwell, 30th, 21:17

Cole Osborn, 36th, 21:40.7

Girls team: 5th out of 6

Jenna Powell, 14th, 23:44.4

Kainalu Bailey, 16th, 23:56.6

Abigail Kinoshita, 21st, 25:00

Marley Bloomster, 25th, 26:28

Payton Rigert, 26th, 26:54.6

Annie Veatch, 32nd, 30:09.2

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