TILLAMOOK — With a course that features a massive mud pit, the annual season-opening Ultimook cross-country race isn't meant to be an accurate gauge as far as time goes, but rather a mental and physical challenge to help runners prepare for the season.
In that sense, Veritas coach Ken McChesney said he felt Saturday's event was a success, as sophomore Cam McChesney led the Watchmen boys to a ninth-place team finish and Chloe Wassei pushed the girls to 13th.
"I think the joy of a race like that is trying to figure out something new," McChesney said. "Both the girls and boys team studied it carefully, theorizing about the best way through. In the end, some of us got through well while others got stuck, just like with most other teams."
Wassei navigated the mud better than most, finishing the first mile in about 50th place before finishing strong to place 26th in 25:42.01. Madison McChesney was second for Veritas in 82nd (30:57.95).
"I heard that the girls really got stuck in the mud," Coach McChesney said. "Some of them said it cost them up to six minutes to get through, so again, I was really excited to see how tough they all were running."
He credited the girls for helping the boys team with advice for how to approach the mud pit and evidently it worked for Cam McChesney, who placed 10th in 18:43.79.
Thaddeo Pia followed up in 62nd (21:58.45) and Thomas Lattus was 67th (22:08.40) to help the boys break the top 10 in a field of 22 teams, which ranged in size from 1A to 4A.
"It was obvious that they were spent from the numerous challenges, yet they maintained their efficient running form well, and several were able to be aggressive in the last mile," Coach McChesney said. "While times on a course like this are frustrating because we can't really gauge where we are, the mental toughness that is developing in our girls and boys is exciting to see."
The Watchmen will return to action Saturday at the 13th annual Tualatin Invite at Tualatin High School.
St. Paul 40, Heppner 0 — The Bucks (1-0) led the 2015 2A state champions 27-0 at halftime and were never threatened. St. Paul will host Monroe at 7 p.m. Friday for its home opener.
Westview 6, Newberg 2 — The Tigers (0-1) fell behind 3-1 by halftime and were unable to rally in the season opener Aug. 28 in Portland.
Lake Oswego 3, Newberg 0 — The Lakers rolled to a 25-17, 25-1, 25-9 victory in the season opener Aug. 31 in Newberg (0-1).
Willamette Valley Christian 3, C.S. Lewis Academy 0 — The Watchmen (0-3) fell 25-13, 25-5, 25-15 Aug. 31 at Blanchet Catholic High School.
Bill Chapman Invitational — Senior Savanna Salmons placed 20th in 21:05.24 to lead the Newberg girls to sixth place with 178 points on Aug. 31 at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro. Junior James Busch paced the boys, who placed 13th (374), with 45th-place showing (18:18.02) and Carson Herrick finished 51st in 18:28.75.