The Newberg girls beat Tigard and Tualatin to complete their second consecutive undefeated dual-meet season, but still seek a bigger accomplishment

TUALATIN — Not knowing exactly how tough a challenge they would receive from a solid Tigard team at the final Pacific Conference dual meet of the season, the Newberg girls cross-country team simply brought their ‘A’ game to Tualatin High School Oct. 16. by: SETH GORDON - Back-to-back champs -- From left to right: Savannah Stanton, Margaret Halstead and Grace Hanna stick together about midway through Newberg's sweep of Tigard and Tualatin at a double dual meet Oct. 16 at Tualatin High School. With the wins, Newberg claimed its second undefeated regular-season Pacific Conference title.

That proved to be more than enough to dispatch both Tigard and the host Timberwolves, wrapping up the Tigers’ second-consecutive regular season league crown. But the team was far from satisfied.

That’s because a year ago, Forest Grove avenged an early-season dual-meet loss by edging Newberg for the district title. This year’s senior-laden group, however, is determined to capture the prize that eluded them last fall.

“It was our goal last year and we didn’t get that, so it would mean a lot,” senior Debora DeLeon said. “If we don’t, we’ll cheer on Forest Grove, say, ‘Great job and thanks for the great race.’ Other than that, it’s definitely a big goal. We’ll try to stick together and be a team out there.”

As she has done for most of the season, DeLeon led the charge for Newberg, placing second overall to Tigard’s Elizabeth Dean in 20:12.05.

The race was still undetermined after a mile, as Dean and Hannaly Duff-McGaughey were out in front for Tigard, but Newberg took control in the second mile.

In the final mile, senior Savannah Stanton overtook Duff-McGaughey for third overall, finishing just behind DeLeon in 2:13.92 thanks to her dependably strong kick.

Senior Margaret Halstead (20:43.2) and freshman Grace Hanna (20:51.69) both came in ahead of Tigard’s No.3 runner to place seventh and eighth overall, respectively.

That pretty much sealed the victory, but Debora DeLeon’s twin sister, Rebeca, came in just behind Tigard’s No. 3 in 10th overall (21:17.05) to put a bow on the 24-31 victory. The Tigers also beat Tualatin 18-39.

“This was a tough stretch of meets — four meets in a week and a half — but our top two girls came back and ran the same times they ran Friday and Friday was an easier course,” head coach Bruce Sinkbeil said. “And those were significant PRs, so to come back and do that is a good sign.”

Not only was the course at Tualatin tougher, but Sinkbeil was pleased with how the team dealt with the pressure considering a league title was on the line and put up similar times to the ones they posted at the previous meet at Sandalie Golf Course.

“There’s a little bit of strain and stress when you’re going for something,” Sinkbeil said. “It’s always more tense, whereas Friday was just one big meet and it was a non-league meet. I have a lot of confidence in them, though.”

Rebeca DeLeon has missed time due to a groin injury, which she is still battling and doesn’t expect to fully heal before the season is over, but is pleased with her senior campaign nonetheless. She said she believes the Tigers have what it takes to bring home the district crown.

“I feel like mentality is a big part of running,” DeLeon said. “If you set yourself to beating that one person and really turn yourself up, you can do it.”

The Newberg boys were without two of their top runners facing the league-champion Timberwolves and a solid Tigard group, falling 15-47 and 24-34, respectively. Westside Christian and Horizon Christian also participated in both boys and girls races, but had little impact on the overall placing.

Mike Miller recorded a personal best time of 17:40.94 to place 11th overall, as Tigard and Tualatin combined to take spots 1-10.

Quinton Read wasn’t far behind his teammate, placing 12th in 17:50.23, just ahead of Harrison Carsh, who was 13th in 17:55.52. Rounding out the scoring for Newberg were Aerie Baxter in 19th (18:20.03) and Jared Read in 22nd (18:31.72).

Both teams will head Thursday to Clackamas Community College for the district championship meet, which will get under way at 2:30 p.m. with the girls junior varsity race.

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