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The Timberwolves return a strong group from last year's Three Rivers League runner-ups

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Junior Kaitlyn Gearin (left) and senior Sarah Hanson are two of the top returnees for the Tualatin High School girls cross country team this season.TUALATIN — Depth, talent, leadership, determination.

The Tualatin High School girls cross country team looks to have a lot going for it. That said, the Timberwolves are taking high hopes into the 2018 season.

"We have a young core group of athletes along with important veterans," Tualatin girls cross country coach Chris McIsaac said. "The girls showed up consistently throughout the summer to run and workout as a group. They are motivated and excited to see how this season shapes up. The girls team is the deepest it has been since I started coaching at Tualatin. We have 16 girls who are all varsity caliber runners."

The Timberwolves have a strong group of runners back from last year's squad that finished in second place in the team standings, behind only St. Mary's Academy, at the Three Rivers League district cross country championships.

Among those returnees is junior Kaitlyn Gearin, who finished in fourth place at last year's TRL district meet with a time of 19 minutes, 10.55 seconds for the 5,000-meter course.

"She's looking to improve on her 14th-place finish at state," McIsaac said.

Senior Sarah Hanson, who was 10th at the district meet last year, also returns.

"She's our fearless leader, who pushes and encourages her teammates every day," McIsaac said.

Sophomore Averi Lewis, who was 13th at district a year ago, is also back.

The Wolves are also looking for big things from junior returnee Taylor Cockrell.

"This is her first time training consistently for an entire off season," McIsaac said. "She's looking fit and fast."

Senior Mason Springer, who was 28th at district last year, also returns.

"She's one of our most consistent runners from last year," McIsaac said.

Other returnees for the Tualatin girls include sophomore Rachel Beddes, junior Kavya Balasubramanian and senior Manasi Sridhar.

Among the newcomers to the Tualatin varsity, who could all have an impact this year, include sophomore Olivia Seits, sophomore Lily Hughes, freshman Mahathi Sridhar and freshman Naiya Gates.

The big group of strong runners also boasts plenty of leaders.

"We have a very strong group of leaders on our team," McIsaac said. "Our seniors — Sarah Hanson, Mason Springer, Manasi Sridhar, Haley Harrington, and Kristina Reitan — have already stepped up and continued the tradition of a positive culture amongst the girls. We have a diverse team and every girl brings a uniqueness that contributes to our team culture. I have not worked with a more caring group of girls in my coaching career. From top to bottom, this team truly cares about one another and it shows on a daily basis."

As has been the case the past few years, the Tualatin girls could find themselves in a battle with St. Mary's for Three Rivers League supremacy.

"Once again, we have a very strong league," McIsaac said. "It looks like it will be between us and St. Mary's Academy for the league title. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead of us and look forward to the hurdles that we'll face throughout the season. Our team will be ready to compete at their fullest at the district meet."

And, again, the Wolves look to have a lot going for them as they aim at the top in the TRL.

"We have a very special cross country program at Tualatin," McIsaac said. "We have an amazing coaching staff in Andrew Bonica (boys head coach), Katie Schrage (assistant) and Amanda Cordes (assistant). Our athletes work incredibly hard and are some of the nicest individuals that I've ever met. Our goals for each season are to be happy, have fun, improve, do well in school, win, and to leave a mark. Our team works hard on a daily basis to accomplish this and are headed in the right direction."

The Tualatin girls showed there strength on Saturday, as they triumphed at the Tualatin Invitational, held at Tualatin High School. The Wolves claimed the top spot in the team standings with a score of 29 points. Central Catholic finished second with 51.

Gearin was the individual winner of the race, with a time of 19:04.61, and Seits was right behind her in second place with a mark of 19:05.34. Hanson was ninth and Cockrell was 11th.

Tualatin will open its Three Rivers League dual meet schedule on Wednesday, when it faces Lakeridge, West Linn and St. Mary's in a race to be held at Westmoreland Park. The varsity girls event is set to start at 5:45 p.m.

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