|10/3/2017 12:20:00 PM|
Outlaws runners picking up the pace
|Freshman Ethan Hosang rounds the corner on his way to a personal best at the Nike Portland XC meet. photo by Charlie Kanzig|
By Charlie KanzigThe hazy days of the early season have cleared to brilliant fall skies, and with the change has come a quickening in the pace and competitiveness of the Outlaws cross-country team. That is evidenced by a flurry of season and personal bests by the team at the Nike Portland XC meet held at Portland Meadows horse track on Saturday, September 30.
The meet attracted teams from throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California and included four divisions, making it the largest multi-state of its kind in Oregon. The elite race, dubbed the Danner Championships, is held in honor of long-time Aloha High School coach Jim Danner. The meet's origin dates back all the way to 1980, a year after Danner became the coach at Aloha. He died at age 34 from cancer.
Sisters competed in Division II, which pitted the Outlaws against over 35 teams from all over the Northwest. The looping course takes place entirely on the infield of the horse track, making it a very spectator-friendly event.
Going into the meet the Outlaws girls looked forward to getting a gauge on their race readiness since the squad had only completed one 5,000-meter race this season due to two meets being cancelled due to poor air quality from the state's forest fires. A flat, fast course with a quality field of competitors would likely provide a clearer view of how the team compared to other 4A schools.
Things played out quite well as all of the girls ran season bests, including team leader Anna Bartlett who ran a personal best, which came as a bit of a shock to her.
"I was surprised," she said. "I didn't think that would be possible." According to Coach Josh Nordell, Bartlett's 12th-place finish in 19:57 was a result of running a very strong second half in the race.
"We all know Anna is a good runner, but her effort in this race showed a further deepening of her toughness and race savvy," he said.
Bartlett, whose previous best of 20:09 came at last year's OSAA State Championship where she placed 10th, appears to be in good position to defend her Sky-Em District title and lead the team at state.
Madison Elmore of 6A South Eugene won the Division II individual title in a blazing time of 18:13.
Her teammates all came through with season bests as the Outlaws placed 17th among 27 teams, mostly from larger schools.
Three Outlaws moved through the race together on their way to their fastest times of the year. Ella Cole (21:58.7), Amy Hills (21:58.8), and Tate Ricker (22:05), all juniors, gave Nordell reason to smile.
"Seeing them running as a tight bunch is so cool," he said. "If they can continue to push and pull each other along our team will just keep getting strong and stronger."
Senior Engracia Diez (23:20) and her freshman sister Iris (25:19) rounded out the team results for Sisters. Junior Brooke Robillard started the race but was unable to finish due to foot pain.
"The girls took a good step forward today, and as we enter into October's racing season I expect to see a continued upward trend," he said.
The Outlaws boys had equally positive results, with personal bests throughout the team. Jordan Pollard continued his stellar season with a tremendous sixth-place finish among 261 finishers. His time of 16:10, a personal best by 14 seconds, ranks second to only John Kavulich of Scappoose who ran 15:54 Saturday, among 4A runners this season. Kavulich clocked 15:41 earlier this season in a course that was almost certainly short.
"Jordan proved that he is tougher and stronger than ever," said Nordell.
The pace went out very fast in the race with the leaders passing the mile in well under five minutes. Pollard stayed among the top 10 through the halfway mark, dropped back a bit past the two mile mark, but moved all the way up to sixth by the finish.
"I have never seen Jordan finish a race stronger than this one," said Nordell. "He was incredible."
Caleb Olsen of Hanford (WA) ran away with the individual title in 15:33.
Pollard's young teammates did their part to help the team as well. Freshman Ethan Hosang blazed to the finish line in 17:07, followed by fellow frosh John Peckham in 17:46. Despite not feeling well, sophomore Josh Liddell also ran a personal best, breaking 18 minutes for the first time with a clocking of 17:52.
Yet another freshman, Will Thorsett, completed the scoring for Sisters with a best time of 18:53.8. Jed Kizziar, a junior in his first season of cross-country, came through in 20:23.
Three Oregon 4A teams were in the race, and all are ranked in the top 10 in the latest coaches' poll. Stayton, ranked No. 1, beat No. 8 Sisters 399-456, but the Outlaws outpaced No. 4 Valley Catholic, which finished with 560 points.
Overall Sisters placed 17th among 39 teams in the race.
"Our young team is showing tremendous competitiveness and potential," said Nordell. "There are a lot of 4A teams this year that are similar to us, with no real separation among the top 10 or 12 teams, so it's going to be interesting to see how we continue to stack up in the weeks to come, but I couldn't be more pleased with how these boys come ready to race."
The Outlaws will be staying close to home this week for the Oxford Classic, set for Friday, October 6, at Drake Park.
"Since our one home meet of the year got cancelled, we decided to run at Oxford in the hope that our families can more easily come and see their kids run," said Nordell. The meet begins at 1 p.m.
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