Disciplinary reasons caused several cross country team members to be unable to compete

by: LON AUSTIN - Nathan Carmack was the highest finishing Crook County runner at the state meet. Carmack, a junior is expected to lead next year's team.

The Crook County High School cross country team started their season filled with optimism.

The Cowgirls had reached the state meet every year since Crook County moved down to Class 4A. The Cowboys had finished last year with one of their strongest teams in years, and all of the key runners were back.

Adding to the optimism early in the season, the Cowboys earned a trophy at the Seaside Three Course Challenge — the first time the boys team had accomplished that feat.

Then came problems. Two key team members were removed from the squad for disciplinary reasons. Several other team members were suspended for a major portion of the season.

It would have been easy for the team to fold, instead they pulled together and completed a solid season. Led by a first-place individual finish from Grayson Munn, the Cowboys took second at the district meet, qualifying for state. The Cowgirls also had a solid district meet, tying for second. However, they lost the tiebreaker and failed to reach the state tournament.

Once at state, Munn had a subpar performance, but once again other team members stepped up. Nathan Carmack had the best race of his career, finishing 25th overall, and 17th in the team scoring to lead the Cowboys to a 10th-place finish.

Munn, graduates as does Blake George and Jesse Santiago, but the Cowboys have a solid contingent of runners returning. In addition to Carmack, Liam Pickhardt, Sam Santiago, and Justin Meyers all ran at state this year.

Things look even better for the Cowgirls. Freshman, Maggie Kasberger, placed fifth at district, earning a trip to the state meet as an individual. Once there, she ran a career-best time of 21:41 to place 51st. In addition to Kasberger, all six other Cowgirls who competed at this year's Greater Oregon League Championships return next season.

Irene Morales led the team all year, while Ashton Morgan, Charsie Brewer, Shannon Love, Peyton Owens, and Jayana Hinkle all showed improvement.

With a solid core coming back, both the Cowboys and Cowgirls have a solid opportunity to qualify teams for the state meet next year regardless of whether the cross country team continues to compete in the Greater Oregon League, or is moved to the Tri-Valley Conference with all of Crook County's other team sports.

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