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The Pioneers return six of seven runners from team that placed second in district and advanced to last year's 6A state meet

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Oregon City's boys cross country team loosens up before Friday's time trial over the Pioneers' 3,000-meter home course. Senior Max Reed set the pace, finishing in 9 minutes, 59 seconds.Oregon City senior Max Reed set the pace for the Pioneers' boys cross country team during Friday's season-opening time trial, covering the 3,000-meter course in a time of 9 minutes, 59 seconds at Oregon City High School.

Senior Grant Pauli finished second in 10:16 and then the next three — senior Jonathan Schaffer, senior Daniel Polanco, and junior Christopher Lane, respectively — clocked in at 10:30, 10:31, and 10:32.

Sophomore Christopher Young (10:41) and junior Isaiah Jannsen (11:01) rounded out the top seven in a race to help decide the starting varsity lineup for Thursday's season-opening Bill Chapman Invitational at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro.

The Pioneers return six of their top seven runners from last year's team that finished second to West Linn at the Three Rivers League district championships.

With that much talent coming back, could this be the year Oregon City makes a serious run at a district title?

"That's what we're aiming for," Reed said. "Last year, we got second. This year, we're looking for first because we return a lot of guys.

"This is probably the hardest we've ever hit it as a team. In years past, there were one or two guys that would hit 60 miles a week, but right now, we have six guys over 60 miles a week, so ..."

Reed set out Friday to take down James Swyter's 3k school record of 9:40 set in 2014.

He was on record pace when he ran the first 1,000 meters in 3:09, but then settled into a 3:25 pace over the final two segments on a day when there wasn't anyone to push him and the temperature was somewhere in the mid-80s — conditions that weren't exactly conducive to running fast.

"The heat definitely played into it," Reed said. "The conditions two days ago (when the temperature was about 10 degrees cooler), we ran an interval package and everyone was flying on those, so we wish it had been more like that today.

"I was hoping I'd have a little bit more speed, but I'm going to have to work on that over the season, because I'm planning to have that speed by state."

Oregon City coach Brandon Lee liked what he saw from his boys team through the first week of preseason training camp.

"They're going to be really solid," Lee said. "They've been running up in the numbers of 60-70 miles a week for the past month or so, hitting much higher mileage than they did last year and they have much higher expectations and goals for themselves. So, they're pretty excited.

"We'll see on Thursday where we are conditioning-wise, but coming into this season, I think my boys are the team to beat in the Three Rivers League if we stay healthy. We kind of snuck in there for second place last year, and we going to be even stronger this year, so that's exciting."

In the girls time trial, sophomore Ellen Crooks led a field of 10 runners with a time of 14:14 and senior Kelby Beyer was second in 14:40. The Pioneers also were without four of the top runners who were competing in the annual Portland-to-Coast Relay.

By Jim Beseda
Sports editor
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