The shot from the starter’s pistol momentarily trumped the screaming crowd. The digital clocked started counting, and a pack of varsity girls cross country runners pushed off the starting line, gravel crunching beneath their running shoes. Leading the way was Emily Bever.

Bever took first in Tillamook the week prior, helping to secure Molalla’s first-place team finish. She ran 5,200 meters in 20:52, more than a minute faster than the second place finisher.

Seven days later, she was ready to run again. “I’ve been training a lot,” Bever said.

The Molalla Invitational is hosted by Highland Tree Farm. Teams from all over Oregon meet in the woods there. The 5,000 meter course runs along a lake, mostly on a narrow gravel road.

This weekend, the morning started out misty and cool. By the time the girls lined up at the starting line at noon though, the sun shined through the canopy, casting splotchy shadows on the trail.

The pack of girls thinned within a hundred yards of the starting line as the faster runners broke away, disappearing up the trail, into the woods.

From the starting line, you could hear the cheering spectators, mostly parents or other runners, as the girls rounded the lake. And you could, at times, see them in the distance, a flash of colorful jerseys zipping through the green.

Bever maintained the lead. Only one girl kept up, and that was only for the first mile or so, she said.

Just more than 19 minutes later, the crowd lining the finish began to cheer. From the woods, Bever appeared. She was trucking, a full-blown sprint, but she looked as if she had only run three hundred yards, not three miles.

She was calm and confident as she cross the finish line three dozen strides ahead of the second-place finisher.

As the rest of the runners began to trickle in, two other Indians came in among the top ten. Amanda Clarizio finished fourth and Brianna Loughridge tenth, followed by Hanna Clarizio in 11th. Heather Loughridge zipped in 22nd. Emilee Carr took 24th and Kayla Watkins 36th.

The team as a whole took first again.

Other Molalla Invitational results

4A division

Molalla boys: Ninth. Top runners: Cameron Fischer 15th, Matthew Borowczak 21st and Damon Seward 26th.

3A, 2A, 1A division

Colton boys top runners: Cole Travis sixth and Louis Norton ninth.

Colton girls top runners: Brylee Moyle first, Mikaela Shelton second and Cheyenne McCoy third.

Country Christian boys: 16th. Top runners: Levi Losli third, Ben Grandle 12th and John Kendall 13th.

Country Christian girls top runners: Anna Cunningham eighth and Carolyn Botsford ninth.

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