Grayson Munn, Nathan Carmack, Blake George, and Liam Pickhardt lead Crook County efforts

The Central Oregon Cross Country Relays are not your ordinary cross country race. by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Liam Pickhardt races towards the finish line of the Central Oregon Cross Country Relays. Pickhardt, Grayson Munn, Nathan Carmack, and Blake George finished second in the event with a time of 47:51.

“It was a fun day for the team,” said Crook County Head Coach Tracy Smith. “They ran hard even though it was fun. They didn’t take it too lightly.”

While most cross country races are individual races with runners competing on a 5,000-meter course, the relay event consists of teams of four runners each completing two legs of a little more than a mile each. Teams can be boys only, coed, or girls only with places awarded in each category.

The meet is intended to be a fun event, but coaches use the race to work on speed just before their team’s respective district meets. Runners frequently dress up in costumes, but that doesn’t mean that the race isn’t serious.

“This beats training a ton,” said Crook County senior Grayson Munn who wore a white dress shirt, bow tie, and black suspenders during the race. “This is a way to disguise a hard workout. It’s like doing two tempo miles, but you don’t think of it as a workout. You think of it as a race, so it’s fun.”

Munn and teammates Nathan Carmack, Blake George, and Liam Pickhardt raced their way to second place in the event with a time of 47:51 over the eight plus-mile race. Dakota Thornton, Dalen Gardner, Imran Wolfenden, and Adi Wolfenden of Mountain View were the overall winners with a time of 46:46.

“I didn't think we would get second,” said Pickhardt. “We were just out here to have fun and get a good workout, but seconds good.”

“It’s a great way to get ready for district,”?said George. “It energizes your legs and gets you pumped and ready to go.”

“I feel like it went pretty good,” added Carmack. “It sets us up for district.”

A Mountain View coed team of Tia Hatton, Sage Hassell, Sam King, and Gabe Wylie finished third with a time of 49:45.

Cowboys Michael Seyl, Justin Myers, Connor Chaney, and Sam Santiago also ran well, finishing eighth in the 66-team race with a time of 53:36. Dustin Seyl, Irene Morales, Ashton Morgan, and Stephen Dalton were the next Crook County team, finishing 30th in a time of 59:21. Maggie Kasberger, Reilly Connolly, Tobi Hanes, and Jesse Santiago were the next Crook County team to finish, taking 39th with a time of 1:01.09. The final Crook County squad was Jayana Hinkle, Shannon Love, Payton Owens, and Charsie Brewer who finished 56th with a time of 1:08:21.

Smith also ran in the race, but did not count in the final standings.

“I told them this was a tuneup opportunity to get quick for a mile,” Smith said. “They honored that, so I’m really happy. They are starting to act like real experienced runners. I think it looks pretty promising for next week at districts. I think our boys and girls both have a shot at winning titles.

The district meet will be held in Milton-Freewater on Saturday, Oct. 26. Race times are still to be announced.

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