Cross Country team battles suspensions and elements at Saturdays race

It’s been a tough week for the Crook County High School cross country team.

On Monday, the team found out that they had lost two team members for the remainder of the season, and several more for the next two weeks due to disciplinary action.

“It’s been a pretty emotionally draining week,” Head Coach Tracy Smith said. “Our team is not looking as strong as I had hoped it would. Unless we really make some big improvements, It will be difficult to finish in the top two at districts.”

On Saturday, at the Nike Pre Nationals in Portland, the wind gusted to 40 miles an hour while rain poured on the course, leading to miserable conditions and slow times.

Smith declined to talk about the suspensions, instead focusing on Saturday’s race.

“It was nothing spectacular,” he said. “We haven’t run on a fast course yet. This was supposed to be the course. A lot of teams go there because of fast times, but yesterday it was probably a minute slow.”

With the missing runners, Smith chose to run most of the team in the meet’s JV?championship. Grayson Munn was the lone Cowboy to run in a varsity race, competing in the Elite Jim Danner Championship. Munn placed 94th in the race with a time of 17:38.74, far off his season’s best.

Matthew Maton of Summit won the race with a time of 15:57.99. The time was a full minute off of Maton’s season best time.

“At times, there were 30-40 mile an hour winds and people were having their shoes sucked off in the mud,” Smith said. “It happened to at least one of our runners and I saw numerous others where their shoes came off in the mud. It was just mushy. Some places just turned into thick mud and other places were just saturated with rain water. It was just not the best conditions. There were lots of those canopy tents all over the place that were trashed because the wind blew them apart.”

Gig Harbor, Wash. won the championship with a score of 50, while Warren, Wash. was second with 103 points. Summit finished fourth with 197 points. With just one runner in the varsity race, Crook County did not count in the team scoring.

Meanwhile, in the JV race, the Cowboys finished 26th out of 35 teams with a score of 735 points. Warren, Wash. won the JV competition with 61 points, while Gig Harbor was second with 73 points.

Liam Pickhardt led the Cowboy efforts in the race, taking 51st with a time of 18:46.35. He was followed by Jesse Santiago (171st, 20:31.45), Blake George (172nd, 20:32.02), Sam Santiago (177th, 20:36.11), and Billy Mize (188th, 20:51.43).

“I think Pickhardt ran well,” Smith said. “He was hoping to get into the 17’s, but with the slow course it didn’t happen.”

Also running in the race for the Cowboys were Justin Glass who finished 191st with a time of 20:54.70, and Connor Chaney who wound up 196th in 21:00.92.

Yonatan Tesfasilase of Franklin won the boys JV competition with a time of 18:41.38.

The Cowgirls also competed in the JV championships. However, they were unable to field a complete team, so did not figure into the team scoring.

Timberline, Wash. won the race with a score of 45, while Sunset was second with 67 points, and Sheldon finished third with 78 points.

Sam Johnston of Mountain View, Idaho, won the girls JV race with a time of 21:36:16.

Shannon Love was the first Cowgirl finisher, taking 95th with a time of 26:47.62. Jayana Hinkle was the next Cowgirl in, taking 116th place with a time of 27:12.57. Courtney Viescas was the final Cowgirl in the race and finished in 201st place with a time of 32:48.56.

“Love and Hinkle, and Viescas ran solid races,”?Smith said. “They were way back in the pack in track last year — they didn’t finish ahead of much of anybody and this year, they are beating quite a few runners. I’m real pleased with them, but we didn’t have any other girls.”

Alexa Efraimson, of Camas, Wash., won the girls elite varsity race with a time of 17:59.57

Crook County is back in action on Saturday when they compete in the Oxford Classics at Drake Park in Bend. Races begin at 9 a.m., and continue for much of the day.

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