St. Helens cross country sweeps to victory at Trojan Relays
Things could not have started much worse for the St. Helens cross country teams last week.
First, the bus that was scheduled to take the Lions to the annual Trojan Relays meet on Oct. 4 showed up almost an hour late due a scheduling mix-up.
Then, that same bus broke down about halfway to Rainier's Trojan Park, eventually leaving the team just minutes to warm up before starting the race about 20 minutes after its scheduled starting time.
So how did the Lions respond?
Like champions, with both teams running to victory in a field that included six boys varsity teams and another 13 junior varsity teams, and six girls teams as well.
In the boys meet, St. Helens ran to first place with a team time of 54 minutes, 43.52 seconds, followed by Scappoose's 55:01.83, Rainier at 58:26.80, Banks with a 58:40.36, Mossyrock at 59:02.59 and Astoria with a 59:10.77.
The meet was a relay event with each team recording five varsity times over the 3,100-meter course at Trojan Park just south of Rainier.
"It was really stressful because we left on the bus an hour late, and then, as we were driving up, the bus decided to break down right at the railroad tracks," said St. Helens junior Cooper Montgomery, who finished first on his leg of the relay with a time of 10 minutes, 58 seconds. "They told us they would delay it for us but we didn't know how long so we just assumed we were going to get off (the bus), do a warm-up and then run which is exactly what happened."
Despite the unusual circumstances of their trip, the Lions showed they were ready to go, ready to compete and ready to win.
"I came in first (on my leg) which I'm really happy about. I finished first and I also think we have a chance to finish first as a team," Montgomery said. "I really do like this one because it's something way different from what we usually do. This one, it's a relay so you can cheer on your teammates (and) you can feel the team spirit that everyone has."
Junior Waylon Nichols set the pace for the Lions with his time of 10:24, and he was followed by junior Cash Lapping's 10:43, Montgomery and his 10:58, junior Evan Garrison with an 11:16 and junior Isaiah Ebert at 11:20.
"It's been a bit of a slow start because we've had people injured, but as we get closer to district, we can tell that people are really starting to pick it up," Montgomery. "We may have struggled at first … but we're catching up real fast and our times are getting faster. We definitely have a chance to get to state. It's really close between us and a couple of teams."
In the girls meet, St. Helens stepped up again and sped to first place with a time of 1:06:16, with Astoria second at 1:06:55 and Scappoose third with a 1:12.05.
The other team scores included St. Helens No. 2 at 1:14.30, Rainier with a 1:14:52 and the Rainier junior varsity team at 1:17:16.
Like their male counterparts, the Lion girls were able to overcome the long delay in getting to the meet and the attendant short warm-up.
"I wish I would have gotten a better chance to warm up but I think it was OK," said St. Helens senior Cheyenne Trainer, who posted her team's best time with a mark of 12:33. "I felt, well, not very warm, but I felt pretty good when I ran."
While the Lions didn't enjoy the bus ride out to Rainier, they did have a good time at the event, an annual favorite for many of the team's members.
"It's my favorite," Trainer said of her fourth appearance at the Trojan Relays. "I'm a track runner and I do (the 4 x 400 relay) so I like working with other people, plus it's so pretty running when the leaves are falling."
After Trainer's 12:33, senior Mackenzie Trainer was next fastest with a 12:36, followed by senior Kaitlyn Silva at 13:08, freshman Hannah Haydock with a 13:41 and sophomore Mattie Miller at 14:15.
"We kind of use (this meet) as a workout," Trainer added. "It's more about speed and we use it towards our 5Ks, to speed up towards the end and get our legs up higher and just do a different type of running."
Next up, the Indians run against St. Helens, Hillsboro and Milwaukie at St. Helens' McCormich Park on Wednesday, then runs in the Valiant Invitational at Valley Catholic on Oct. 18.