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Tigers best Lakeridge and Sherwood in opening Three Rivers League competition

SHERWOOD — Spearheaded by a 2-3 finish by Abi Hein and Savanna Salmons, the Newberg girls cross-country team picked up its second win in as many meets, sweeping Lakeridge and Sherwood Sept. 13 in the first Three Rivers League contest of the season. SETH GORDON - With teammate Savanna Salmons just behind, Abi Hein pushes to finish the course at Sherwood High School Sept. 13. Hein and Salmons finished 2-3 to lead the Tigers to wins over Lakeridge and Sherwood.

The Tigers were coming off an impressive win at the Saxon Invitational four days prior, but were without their top finisher from that race, senior Casey Novak, who focuses primarily on soccer and generally is not available for mid-week races.

Hein and Salmons led for most of the race before Pacers freshman Holly Lane overtook the pair down the stretch to win in 20:01.5. Hein was next to place second in 20:05.2 and Salmons third in 20:07.6. For the second week in a row, Salmons also set a new personal record.

"It's just hard work and training in the summer," Salmons said. "Once track season ended, we all started training right away. Me and a few others ran a half marathon and that was kind of the jumpstart to our training. After that, we just stuck with it through summer. I PR'd last Saturday, too, so it's kind of been continuous, which is nice."

Rounding out the effort for the Newberg girls were Jaci Smith, who was ninth in 21:44.4, and sisters Rachel and Bailey Sherwood, who both posted the same time of 21:53.3. Rachel, a sophomore, earned 10th and Bailey, a junior, was 11th.

The collective effort was good enough to edge Lakeridge 26-31 and beat the Bowmen 24-31.

"Jaci stepped up to No. 3 for the day and the Sherwoods ran tough to put us ahead of the Sherwood pack," NHS coach Bruce Sinkbeil said. "Abi and Savanna led the race for the second half and ran a really smart, even race. The Lakeridge girl ran a 50 second PR and stuck with them and then outkicked them at the end."

Salmons said she is pleased with the 10-second gap within the team's lead group, with or without Novak, but the team is working hard to close the 1 through 5 gap, which was 1:48 in this event.

"Just getting the girls to run more together and train more together will help get our team aspect and bring the time gap down," Salmons said. "I (hope) that they'll all pick it up together and it will motivate each of them to be racing each other back and forth."

Junior James Busch paced the boys team with a seventh place finish, setting a new personal best by crossing in 16:55.4. Busch also credited his summer training, and senior captain Carson Herrick for leading that effort, for his early season success.

"I started at the end of May and I've never done that," Busch said. "This is our third race and I've PR'd already because I didn't wait until July to start training."

With Sherwood's Henry Giles (16:10.5) and Josh Quaglio (16:23.1) going 1-2 and Lakeridge taking the next four positions, the Tigers could not stay close in team scoring, falling 21-34 to the Bowmen and 16-45 to the Pacers.

However, following Herrick in 11th (17:31.1) and Hunter Whitehead in 14th (17:34.7), Newberg's final four runners all set new personal bests.

That group was led by junior Hunter Bensman in 16th (17:49.4) and senior Andrew Cartales in 19th (18:14.4) to round out the team scoring, with freshman Jonathan Rolfe taking 20th (18:15.6) and senior Nate Blair placing 23rd (18:21).

"Our 1-7 is really good, but our gap 1-5 was 1:24, which is all right, but 1, 2 and 3 need to move a lot closer together and our 4-5 really need to move up because that's the big gap, but we have a really solid group so it's not going to take much longer to get that all meshed into one," Sinkbeil said.

The Tigers are off until Sept. 26, when they will travel to Tigard for a three-way meet with Lake Oswego.

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