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Crook County High School sophomores lead the Cowboys to team win; Cowgirls also run well

ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras runner Hannah MacDuffee, left, and Crook County's Lindsey Mode splash through the water element of the Jere Breese Memorial Stampede Saturday, the cross-country season kickoff event at the Breese Ranch east of Prineville. Mode took third to lead Crook County.

The Crook County High School boys' cross country team won the Jere Breese Memorial Ranch Stampede, outdueling La Pine 49-65. Ridgeview came in third with a team score of 78. The girls race did not have team register official scores, however Crook County's four runners outperformed the quartet from Ridgeview as a team.

As for individuals, the boys' race was won by Ridgeview's Finn Anspach, who ran the course in 19 minutes and 17 seconds, followed by Wyatt Montgomery of La Pine (19:30) and Bryson Underwood of Redmond (20:45). Crook County sophomores Gavin Humphreys (20:55) and Jacob McKinnon (21:03) finished back to back, placing fourth and fifth. Senior Tucker Bonner took eighth place for the Cowboys with a time of 22:26. Duke Wentzel (23:09) and Daniel Olson (23:53) both registered top-15 times as well. Tanner Joyce (24:23), Aidan Bonner (24:30), Justin Mitchell (24:47), Logan Brasher (29:35), Ben McWilliams (32:13) and Joshua Belz (34:41) rounded out the list of Cowboy finishers.

On the girls side, the winning runner was Ridgeview's Morgan Shaw, who finished in 24:03. Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee took second with a time of 24:25, while Crook County senior Lindsey Mode (25:08) took third. Fellow Cowgirl runners McCall Woodward (27:19) and Patagonia Carne (28:15) also placed in the top ten, while Sawyer McDonald (31:08) was just outside.

Cross country runners from around the state came to Prineville over the weekend for one of Oregon's most notable meets. Crook County High School hosted the event, which has held at the picturesque Breese Ranch on Saturday morning.

"It's just awesome here," said Crook County athletic director Rob Bonner. "It's such a great relationship," he added, referring to the close ties between his school and the owners of the ranch.

The rural course is most noteworthy for its first obstacle, a flooded irrigation creek in the middle of a pasture. Runners hit the water at the quarter-mile mark, some at full speed and others on tiptoes. After the water is a short-lived straightaway that soon curves uphill for a steep climb into woodsier terrain.

Despite the watery passage in the beginning of the race, some runners seemed more put off by the rocky incline that follows.

"It's one of the worst because of the uphill at the start," said Crook County sophomore Aiden Bonner, who was competing in the event for the first time.

"But then it's downhill and you can run past everyone," he added with a laugh.

As for senior Daniel Olson, this was his second time at the Breese Ranch Stampede.

"Last time was my first 5K ever," Olson said. "I went from looking up to everyone to being the one trying to bridge that gap between the older generation and the new one."

"We're trying to rebuild and bring new life into the Crook County cross country program."

CCHS senior Lindsey Mode is another part of that older generation with Olson. Mode said of the event, "It was a good, challenging race for the first meet. I'm very excited for the rest of the season."

Fellow Cowgirl runner Sawyer McDonald, a ninth-grader, shared in her excitement and positive outlook for the meets to come.

"I'm pretty confident in this team," McDonald said. "We're all super nice and supportive of each other."

At that point, freshman Tanner Joyce chimed in.

"This is one of the best sports teams I've ever been on," he proclaimed boldly.

The other schools competing at the OSAA-sanctioned 5K events were Bend, Redmond, Ridgeview, Madras, Mazama, La Pine, and Trinity Lutheran. There were also open events held after the official high school meet had finished.

Crook County's next cross country meet is the Ash Creek XC Festival at Western Oregon University on Saturday, Sept. 11. The races will take place at the Ash Creek Preserve on the school's campus in Monmouth. The varsity girls' teams will start at 11:45 a.m., and the varsity boys will go at 12:15 p.m. More than 50 schools are registered to compete in the event.

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