Local teams loaded with talent
Hillsboro-area cross-country teams are all hoping to be well represented at the state meet in Eugene
Can history repeat itself for Libertys girls cross-country team?
Led by then-freshman prodigy Rachel Khaw, the Falcons 2012 cross-country season was a superlative one, as last October the team edged Wilsonville by a single point at the Northwest Oregon Conference district meet to become the first harrier squad boys or girls to advance to the state meet in school history.
The following week in Eugene, boosted by Khaws 10th-place individual result, Liberty finished in 10th place.
With many of that teams top seven returning this fall, the Falcons figure to be in the mix again at this years district meet, slated for Oct. 23 at Blue Lake Park in Fairview. And with pretty much everybody back on the boys side, Liberty could double its fun with two teams in the mix for state qualification.
Both races, I think at the Night Meet and then (at the Bill Chapman Invitational), everybody is ahead of last year, Falcons coach David Douglas said. Were quite a bit faster than what they ran at the Night Meet last year, and then (at the Chapman), most kids were a minute or two, some were even two minutes faster than last year.
Khaw appears primed for another standout season and is once again ready to pull fall double duty. She is also an all-star midfielder for Libertys girls soccer team. Last Friday, she finished fourth in the Chapman, the top result of any female runner from a Hillsboro school. Her time of 19 minutes, 56 seconds on Rood Bridge Parks challenging and hilly course was close to two minutes faster than her mark in 2012.
Rachels right up there where she usually is, and thats where we kind of expect her, Douglas said.
The Falcons did graduate their second runner, Isabelle Cisco who took seventh place in the NWOC district meet off of last years state qualifying squad, but the rest of the top six ladies are back.
Alexanna Fisher and Kiley Bonin were the teams third and fourth runners a year ago, and sisters Sydney and Megan Rose also return. Senior Rebekah Fookes, who is out for her first season of cross-country, is showing some potential, having finished in the teams second spot last Friday. And Hannah Hill, a junior transfer from Sacramento, Calif., looks to be in the varsity mix, as she was the teams fifth runner.
Despite all of the available talent, though, a return trip to Eugene is not a guarantee.
I think its a little bit tougher this year for them, Douglas said. I think some of the other teams have improved and I guess we wont be surprising anybody ... this year like we did the last year. I think we were not on the radar.
As for the boys team, Michael Francy is already in fine form for the Falcons. Eleventh at the district meet a year ago, he led the squad with a fourth-place effort last Friday, dipping under 17 minutes for the first time ever.
Thats a really bright spot, Douglas said. Last year we had five or six guys within 30 seconds of him, so we gotta get those guys into closer contact with him.
Those guys include Dominick Marshall, Austin Finster and Jonathan Fookes. Another returner, Alex Dickinson, has also been running in the teams top seven in the early goings.
Were not really replacing anybody, Douglas said. Were just building on what we did last year.
Numbers are up for the Jaguars, who may not contend for team state meet berths but boast two of the most promising runners in the league.
Weve got a very young group, coach John Gill said of his team of 42. Its a big group. Its the biggest Ive ever had.
After running just two meets in 2012 and sporting a personal best of over 21 minutes sophomore Angel Salazar stamped himself as a Pacific Conference contender with his second-place, sub-17-minute effort at the Chapman last Friday. Gill said that time was the third-fastest by a Century boy in school history on that course.
Hes very intense, and hell just run solid all the time, Gill noted. Hes very, very young, so I have to let him know that youve got to take days off, youve got to pull back sometimes. Easy runs are just that, easy runs.
Other top runners on this years team include Drew Scott, Ryan Barclay and Caleb Younk.
And for the girls team, track star Braanna Weber has turned out for cross-country for the first time as a junior and already appears to be adapting quite nicely. She was 11th last Friday in 20:45, which Gill said was the fastest at that course by a Jaguars girl.
This past spring, Weber turned in one of the best performances of any athlete at the conference district meet, finishing second in the 1,500, 800 and 300 hurdles to qualify for state.
The first couple weeks of practice was kind of tough, because shes not used to running that much, Gill said. But now shes understanding that, OK, I can do this. And I keep telling her, Youre going to reap the benefits of this come track season. Shes kind of bought into it.
Other girls team leaders include Mira Gill, Kyra Jogensen and Ryann Fadden.
Glencoe Crimson Tide
Optimism is running high for the Crimson Tide.
Coach Dennis Rice is enjoying the largest turnout during his three-year tenure. Several returners are already showing great improvement, and the boys team could be a darkhorse contender in the Pacific Conference.
I am extremely impressed with both sides of our team, Rice said last Friday at the Bill Chapman Invitational. We have over 50 kids out this year, which is the biggest Ive ever had. We only have five seniors on the team, too, so were looking forward to continuing to grow this program.
The first runner Rice mentioned is junior Kari Zickel, who appears to be continuing the progress she made during the spring track season, when she was sixth in the 1,500 at the district meet. On Friday, she was 34th in the girls race and ran a nine-second personal best, dipping under 22 minutes for the second time in her career. Impressively, her time was almost four minutes faster than the one she turned in at the same meet in 2012.
Our boys team looks phenomenal, Rice said. Im super impressed with how hard those guys have worked all summer long and obviously it shows.
Senior twins Mason and Miles Rouches look to lead Glencoes charge this season. Mason won the boys varsity race at the Chapman, matching his personal best, and Miles was not far behind in ninth. Mason also brings state meet experience to this years squad. He took fifth in the league leading the Tide to a sixth-place result and 46th at the state meet last season.
Classmate Abe Teklu rounds out a solid 1-2-3 punch for the Tide. He was 12th at the 2011 district meet. Rice was also pleased with the efforts of his fourth through sixth runners at the meet, Landon Apeland, Nate Johnson and Brian Gerig.
As for the Tide ladies, they did lose 2012 state qualifier Rachel Gibbs to graduation. Erin Ruark, Megan Lince, McKenna Wilson and Ashlee Brown rounded out the top five at the Chapman, and Chloe Harris also returns.
The Spartans welcome a new coach in Derek Lopez, who takes over for Bill Kaemmer. Lopez is a 2007 Hilhi graduate and ran in college at Western Oregon.
We had a decent summer with some training, Lopez said. We have a few kids I have some high expectations for, but taking over a new program, you have new expectations. Ive definitely set that standard a little bit high so far.
Lauren Lykins is back for her senior season and should be at the front of the Spartans pack. She is a three-time state qualifier in cross-country with a best of 46th place in 2012 as well as a state qualifier in the 3,000 on the track this past spring. She took third place at last years district meet behind McMinnvilles Whitney Rich and Newbergs Erin Sanders.
She did some really great work this past spring, Lopez said. Shes trying to make it a fourth time at state, and so thats the goal.
The boys leader should be Tim McSpadden, whom Lopez is expecting back soon from an ankle injury. A senior, McSpadden finished 20th at last years district meet. Lopez also highlighted senior Johnathon Waters on the boys side and freshman Alana Baldwin-Joiner and junior Mikayla Fisher on the girls side.