The Indians and the Lions cross country teams start off with a low-key 3K race.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - St. Helens' Ben Zuschlag and Carson Jackson led the 3K race between Scappoose and St. Helens on Aug. 25.Scappoose and St. Helens cross country runners raced in their first meet of the season last week.

The teams started the season with a 3K, though most of the races throughout the season are 5K.

Scappoose coach Kevin Pinkstaff described the Aug. 25 race as "low key… but it'll be a chance for our kids to gauge how much they might have improved since the start of last season."

Scappoose freshman Amalie Anderson took first in the girls' race with a time of 14:06. Scappoose girls took the top five spots and had 15 runners, while St. Helens only had two, race results show.

Scappoose sophomores Addison Halberg and Aimie Beutler took second and third, respectively.

Among boys, St. Helens runners took the top two spots in the 3,000 meter race.

St. Helens sophomore Ben Zuschlag took first at 10:48, followed by junior Carson Jackson.

Scappoose's Charlie Leader took third.

Pinkstaff said the team had a "pretty big turnout" as of Aug. 23. While sports like football and soccer hold tryouts and have set teams, cross country is no-cut. More kids sometimes join once the season already has gotten started, so numbers could change.

During the first week of official practices, which were permitted to start Aug. 15, St. Helens cross country coach Naomi Reedy said the team had very low turnout — but she was hopeful more kids would join.

"I'm always optimistic that as the school year starts, we have more kids come out," Reedy said in mid-August. "We have to sometimes be patient."

Reedy said participation on St. Helens' cross country team has trended downward in recent years, but it wasn't yet clear if that was primarily because of the pandemic or part of a larger trend.

Scappoose and St. Helens both moved to the 4A Cowapa League this year, which will mean less competition and a better chance at success than in 5A.

"At least in the cross country division, I think it's a much better fit for our sport, or program, number wise," Reedy said.

Pinkstaff said Scappoose kids were "excited for the new changes this year."

Scappoose cross country also welcomed a new assistant coach, Alyssa Bettendorf, who is a counselor at Scappoose High School and the sprints coach for the track and field team.

Scappoose and St. Helens Cross Country

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