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The boys finish fourth among a large field of 6A teams, girls are seventh on Friday at Champoeg Invitational

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - NHS' Asher Tatsumi finished fifth in the 5,000-meter race at the Champoeg Invitational on Thursday with a time of 16:29:04.

Taking in the natural beauty of Champoeg State Park in St. Paul, the Newberg High School cross-country team seized an opportunity to continue its steady ascent. The Tigers had strong performances on both sides at the Champoeg Invitational – the boys especially – as they entered the home stretch of their season.

Leading the pack among the boys was junior Asher Tatsumi, who finished fifth in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 16:29.04. He was trailed by the Geisch twins – freshmen Zachary and Anthony – who finished 10th and 13th,, respectively, with times of 16:40.03 and 16:46.73. Junior William Stewart added to a solid day for the boys with a 27th place finish, posting a time of 17:12.57.

The boys finished fourth among 19 teams in attendance, many who have individual and team state championship contenders on their rosters. Hood River Valley senior Omar Quintana took home first place individually with a time of 16:15.49, while The Dalles finished first as a team after it had runners finish second, third, 11th and 21st.

The time gap between the first and third runners for Newberg was a season-best 17 seconds, despite being without one of its top runners, senior Jonathan Rolfe, due to illness. The Geisch brothers' times – along with that of Stewart – were personal records.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Senior Kendall McKibbon (far left) placed 24th with a time of 20:13:65.

"The boys were missing Jonathan because of illness, but if he would have been able to run we probably would have won the boys race because his is normally right next to Asher," NHS coach Bruce Sinkbeil said. "The Geisch's both ran under 17:00 for the first time and are now second and third on the all-time Newberg freshmen list."

The Newberg girls team finished seventh among 21 teams, but the margins were so tight in team points that only a few seconds here and there separated them from the fourth-place squad, Union. The top three was defined, though, as Hood River Valley, Aloha and North Salem topped the standings.

First to cross the finish line for the Tigers was senior Kendall McKibbon, who placed 24th in 20:13.65. Half a minute later, senior Abigail Hein crossed to finish 37th in 20:45.91.

A trio of Newberg runners finished at or near the 50th place mark, with freshman Acacia Czuk placing 46th in a personal record 21:06.54, senior Rachel Sherwood finishing 50th in 21:18.05 and sophomore Sophia Redwine finishing 53rd in 21:32.37.

"The girls improved from last year and their time gap is getting much better," Sinkbeil said. "Acacia ran another PR and Rachel ran her fastest time in two seasons, which is very encouraging."

Up next for Newberg is a Pacific Conference dual meet with Liberty and Century, hosted by the Jaguars. That meet will take place on Oct. 23 as the Tigers gear up for the district meet on Oct. 30 at Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville, where they aim to qualify for state with an impressive finish among conference foes. The 6A state championships are Nov. 9 at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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