The Sandy girls come out in front in the team tally, while Isaac Mitchell finishes first in the boys race

For the first time since getting a new course two years ago, the Sandy cross country team finally got to host a meet. The Pioneers felt right at home.

Sandy had an excellent showing as it welcomed Milwaukie, St. Helens and Liberty on Wednesday in one of the final tune-ups before the district meet next week. The Pioneer girls won the event, edging out Liberty, while the boys took second place.

“I’m really proud of the way they came out and competed,” Sandy coach Anouxa Vixathep said. “It was very exciting for the girls, and for me, for them to finish first in the first race on our home course.”

As expected, Liberty’s Rachel Khaw was in a league of her own. She finished more than a minute ahead of every other girl in the competition (19:28.44), but once she was off the course, it was all Sandy. Led by Dalen Richardson (20:29.38), the next four runners to finish were Pioneers. Grace Knapp took third (21:06.22) behind Khaw and Richardson, Zayna Salveter crossed the finish line fourth (21:23.25) and she was followed by Terra Uhler (21:38.12).

Pamela Frasier and Paola Phipps were also in the running, coming in eighth and ninth, respectively. Sandy’s six fastest runners on the girls’ side all placed ninth or better.

The Pioneers were represented well on in the boys’ race as senior Isaac Mitchell (16:42.81) edged out Liberty’s Michael Francy (16:48.75) to win the event. Sandy’s Brody White also performed nicely as he claimed the No. 4 spot on the leader board (17:50.34).

Mitchell added to what has already been a sensational season with the win. He has finished in the Top-6 in every meet, and now has two wins and one second-place finish.

Mitchell’s success is especially remarkable when you consider him missing all of last season with an injury. His comeback this year has inspired and uplifted the program.

“It is so great to have him back and running again,” Vixathep said. “He is just a great kid and is someone everyone else can rally around.”

As a sophomore, Mitchell finished 10th at the NWOC district meet. He will be a definite contender to win it this season.

As a team, the Pioneers think they have a legitimate shot to compete for top honors at districts. Their performance against Liberty, St. Helens and Milwaukie only solidified their confidence.

“Our biggest goal is to qualify for state,” Vixathep said. “Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to plant the seed in their minds that it definitely could happen. Nobody is going to give it to us. We still have to earn it, but it is a real possibility.”

The NWOC district meet will be held Oct. 23, at Blue Lake Park. The state meet follows on Nov. 2, at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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