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Boys will have depth as they battle other strong cross-country squads in NWOC

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Sophomores Luke (left) and Rowen Suchoski are back as leaders for Scappoose in boys cross country.This could be one of those years for the Scappoose boys cross-country team. A year in which they make a run at it — at first place in the Northwest Oregon Conference.

"If we all put in the effort, we'll get it," said sophomore Luke Suchoski, who is back with twin Rowen to help lead the way.

Rowen and Luke finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in district last year, and the Indians were third, but only one point behind Parkrose (and two points in front of La Salle Prep), as all of them chased league champion Wilsonville.

The Indians then took 11th in the Class 5A championship race, two spots behind Wilsonville and one ahead of Parkrose.

"We want to place higher at state," Luke Suchoski said last week.

The turnover and enthusiasm have Scappoose coach Kevin Pinkstaff encouraged, too.

"The boys have a really good dynamic — they're working hard and having fun," he said.

The mix includes other returning runners and a couple of newcomers. Seniors Gustavo Villalvazo and Josh Lull are back, as is junior Griffin Barron.

New are Gage Ekstrom, who ran track last spring, and AJ Degrande, a top Indian wrestler.

They'll all follow the lead of the Suchoski brothers, who said they are better prepared for their second year in the high school program.

"It was challenging last year -- I don't think I had the base in miles for what I needed to do," Rowen Suchoski said. "This year, we have a better base, and we're more prepared. So is a lot of our team."

Freshmen Sam Soloman, Colton Lager, Colin Stafford, Talbot Friesen and Devin Butler "put in a strong training camp," Pinkstaff said, "and I'm glad they'll have a no-pressure year on JV to get some experience, and I can see them becoming strong varsity runners in future years."

The Scappoose girls are looking to create the kind of depth the boys' squad enjoys, after going through more of a rebuilding year in 2018 and now without their top district finisher, sophomore Sydney Hanke, as she focuses on soccer and on staying healthy.

Other injuries, to Hailey Keller, Emma Williams and Addison Graham, have been a setback as well.

"The mission for the girls now is to try to recruit more girls," Pinkstaff said, "both for the short-term goal of having a scoring varsity and JV team and then long-term to build a foundation for the team."

Keys to the girls team this fall figure to be sophomore Elise Briscoe and senior Tosha Lopez, both district competitors a year ago.

"Tosha is a worker, and Elise has a lot of potential," Pinkstaff said. "They put in a strong week at our training camp and are a long ways ahead of where they were last year as rookies, so they are the backbone of the girls team at the moment."

Sophomore Maizri Chandler, new to Scappoose, also is "showing a lot of promise," the coach said. Sophomore Angelina Dominguez "looks to be much improved," and soph Dylan Dietz can be part of the mix as well.

The Indians' first race is the Night Meet at Wilsonville on Friday, Aug. 30.

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