The Watchmen feature four varsity runners, three who play other fall sports for the Newberg school

C.S. Lewis Academy's four varsity runners are just two meets into the program's inaugural season, but it appears the Watchmen may already be hooked on the school's newest sport.

"I really like the coaches and I like everyone on the team," junior Ally Trowbridge said. "We're all pretty enthusiastic, so it's pretty fun."

SETH GORDON - C.S. Lewis Academy junior Ally Trowbridge emerges from the woods at the Southwest Christian Invitational Friday in Beaverton.
Three of the team's varsity runners – Trowbridge and freshmen Nicholas Hurst and Jennessa Hoekema – also played either soccer or volleyball this fall, so it's been a bit of a juggling act. In general, they practice cross-country twice a week and play their primary sport the other three days, unless there is a meet.

Guiding them are George Fox University students and co-head coaches Jillian Studer and Sarah Aanes. Both ran cross-country in middle and high school and were intrigued by the opportunity to shape a new program. Studer is also a member of the Bruins' tennis team.

"It's truly amazing to see them balancing between these different practices," Studer said. "It's been great getting to know them, middle school and high school alike. They're really passionate kids that do exactly what you tell them to and they're constantly pushing themselves."SETH GORDON - C.S. Lewis Academy freshman Nicolas Hurst sprints to the finish line Friday at the Southwest Invitational.

None of the runners had participated in a 5K race prior to the first meet Sept. 19 at the Santiam Christian Invitational.

Trowbridge had an impressive debut, finishing 10th in 24:56.59, with Hoekema coming in 29th in 29:22.14. Hurst was the top boy's finisher, crossing in 37th place at 20:19.45, with freshman Matt Oliver placing 67th in 29:04.89.

"They all blew us away with the times they came away with," Studer said. "Everybody finished and was faster than we anticipated them to be, so we're really excited. It was a pretty unanimous declaration that they all felt like they could go faster, so they were excited for the next race."

The Watchmen encountered a more difficult course Friday at the Southwest Christian Invitational, with Trowbridge placing 19th in 25:28.

In part, she joined the team because she had signed up to run a half-marathon with her sisters in southern Oregon later this month.

"I like running and I wanted to push myself to do something new," Trowbridge said.

Hurst placed 37th Friday in 20:55.6, followed by Miller in 104th (31:21.3).

Although it has been a lot harder than he expected, Hurst said he is enjoying the experience so far and that knowing each other previously from other sports has helped the team bond quickly.

"It's been really good getting to know the athletes," Aanes added. "Because the team is so small, we're able to really quickly ... know individually what their goals are. A lot of them are doing other sports, too, so doing cross-country helps them in their other sports."

C.S. Lewis will return to action Saturday at the Bowmen Raceway Invitational at Portland International Raceway.

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