Laura Harmon is settling in nicely.
After spending the last decade coaching at the collegiate level, Harmon accepted the girls cross country and track & field head coaching positions at Jesuit High School prior to the 2021-22 school year. Since she's led the girls cross country team to a second place finish at last fall's 6A state cross country championships and now has the Crusaders track & field team poised to make some noise at the upcoming Metro League and state championships in May.
"We went into the season and looked at our roster to see what we had, knowing there'd be some holes to fill," Harmon said. "We've been able to kind of fill-in some of those areas, and I think the season has been building and as a whole we're doing pretty well."
The Crusaders girls team is led by senior Chloe Foerster who was the state's 2020-21 Gatorade Player of the Year for Oregon Girls Cross Country and placed second at last fall's state cross country championships individually.
Additionally, Foerster won the 800 Meter race at both the 2019 and 2021 OSAA 6A State Track & Field Championships.
"Chloe is incredibly focused," Harmon said. "She has her goals and she's taking all the steps necessary to reach those goals."
Harmon said it's been wonderful working with the senior talent, but added that the athlete's talent and will is only trumped by her enthusiasm for the success of those around her.
"She is one of the most humble high-level athletes you could ever work with," the coach said. "She's very much about the team and puts the team first. Which is great."
In addition to Foerster, Harmon mentioned boy's standouts senior John Schuler and junior Jacob Nenow, the former of which placed third in the 800 meters and eighth in the 3,000 at the prestigious Oregon Relays April 22-23, at Hayward Field in Eugene, while the latter placed an impressive 14th in the 3,000 at the same event.
Harmon spoke highly of both, but noted Schuler has opened even his eyes of late with his ability to move between the middle and longer distances.
"He's been doing really well," Harmon said. "He had a big weekend down at the Oregon Relays and he's been proving to himself that he's not just a mid-distance guy, but that he can move up into the 3,000 and be really successful."
It's not just the Crusaders upperclassmen that are showing out either, as freshmen Emma Bennett and Maura O'Scannlain too have impressed.
O'Scannlain (5:00.31) and Bennett (5:04.91) finished ninth and 14th in the Mile at the Oregon Relays and Harmon said it's nice to see that talent coming into the program, as Foerster prepares to leave in June.
The coach also said she's been encouraged by the progress they've been making in the girl's sprints events, including the 4x100 relay team consisting of freshman Cameron Gatlin, sophomore Maggie Gaur, and seniors Megan Cosper and Madison Hawkins—who Harmon said provide the necessary experience to excel.
"Having a little bit more experience on the team is helpful," the coach said. "I would anticipate we'll get under that 50 second barrier soon."
The girls aren't the only ones making noise in the relays either, for the Crusaders' boys Mile Relay team consisting of Gus Clevenger, Dominic Ricci, Joshua Augustine and Caden Swanson ran the country's second fastest Mile Relay time of the year while finishing second at the Arcadia Invitational April 9, in Southern California.
Harmon said the quartet's success speaks volume to the depth at the middle to long distances.
"I think sometimes you have guys like Gus (Clevenger) and Josh (Augustine) who get overshadowed by the John Schuler's and Jacob Nenow's," she said. "But they're honestly racing at a very high level. For those guys to finish second at Arcadia is a really big deal."
Now, with districts and state on the horizon, Harmon said they'll be working to dial-in who will be competing and in what events in an effort to optimize their point potential. She said that's never easy, especially with the depth they have at Jesuit, but that when they make their decisions it will then be up to the athletes to maximize their potential when it matters most.
"I think the chances of some of our kids winning or finishing in the top-three or top-five are pretty good, and I think some of the kids that might appear just on the outside are going to have to compete really well in order to be in scoring position," Harmon said. "But I feel good about us being able to get a pretty good showing at the state meet and nobody should really count themselves out."
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