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Potampa destroys his old PR time to help lead the Bulldogs to fifth-place finish

PMG FILE PHOTO - Culver senior Troy Potampa, shown here at the Culver 2-Mile Time Trial, set a new personal best at the Gold Rush Run in John Day.With their final warm-up in the books, the Culver cross country teams have their eyes fixed on tomorrow's District 2 Championships in Lebanon.

"We have run at Cheadle Lake Park several times over the last three years," said head coach Carter Spear of the venue for the district meet. "The kids know the course well by now because it is the same course, whether it be the Champs Invite or Districts. On one hand this does give them a mental edge, as long as they don't get too comfortable (or) negative about the specifics of the course."

One runner showing no signs of complacency or negativity is senior Troy Potampa, who set a personal best last week at the Gold Rush Run in John Day. Potampa didn't just beat his old record of 19:53.3 — he shattered it, running a cool 18:24.2 last Thursday.

Behind Potampa, other Culver runners that factored into the scoring were Aiden Guest (19:25.0), Debren Sanabria (20:00.1), Thadius Brown (20:09.0) and Hudson Burgi (20:26.2). Even without stalwart senior Evan Powell, who did run in John Day, the Bulldogs were able to post the fifth-best team score at the Gold Rush Run. Enterprise won the meet with 36 points, while Union edged out Burns for third place with 52 points to the Hilanders' 61.

The boys team is currently projected as the best in District 2, setting them up for a good day tomorrow if everything goes according to plan.

The Bulldogs did not have enough girls in the Gold Rush Run to log a team score, but Olivia Rydman led the team with a time of 23:58.3, her fifth sub-24 minute time in seven tries this year. Rydman's season-best time of 21:59.0 stands at 11th-best in District 2, which means the sophomore may need to deliver the best race of her young career tomorrow in order to make it to state.

"We have a young girls team this year," said Spear. "Three freshmen, one sophomore and a senior. As this younger group continues to run the next few years, they will be better positioned at districts to make it to state. Olivia is right on the cusp to individually qualify. We will see."

Coming off the trip to John Day, the Bulldogs are now turning their sights back to the ultimate goal — bringing a state championship banner back to Culver High School.

"The Gold Rush run is our last tune up before districts," said Spear ahead of Thursday's race. "It doubles as the last hardest practice before districts as well. We have slowly been tapering off so that our legs will be ready for next week's run at winning districts."

"It is definitely the grind part of the season," he added. "We have to stay focused and running this meet helps us keep our mind right for a push at Districts and State."

The District 2 Championships will be held tomorrow, Oct. 27, at Cheadle Lake Park in Lebanon. The Culver girls team will run at 4:20 p.m., while the boys go at 5 p.m. in the next heat.

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