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Tigers' pack runs to an invitational victory

The Tigard girls cross country team takes first at the Jim Danner Invitational
by: DAN BROOD, PACK OF TIGERS — Tigard’s, from left, Ellie Bradley, Ali Davis and Cassie Carroll run together at the Jim Danner Invitational, held Saturday at Blue Lake State Park.

GRESHAM - The Tigers were looking to work as a team.

Not only did they work as a team, they worked as a victorious team.

The Tigard High School girls cross country team ran in triumphant style at the Jim Danner Invitational, held Saturday at Blue Lake State Park.

'We're looking real strong,' Tigard junior Sarah Walch said after the race. 'We try to work as a team. We're working well together. Working together really helps - we all push each other to keep getting better.'

The Tigard girls, competing in the Division 2 race at the invitational, claimed first place in the team competition with 109 points.

The Tigers edged second-place Molalla, which had a total of 110, by one point.

'This is an awesome group of girls,' Tigard girls coach Denise Foote said. 'They all work well together. They all encourage each other.'

The Tigard girls - including Walch, junior Cassie Carroll, junior Ali Davis, senior Ellie Bradley and sophomore Stephanie Fekete - ran as a pack for a good portion of the race.

However, shortly after the start of the race, that pack of Tigers was running near the very back of the pack of competitors.

'I was a little worried at the beginning,' Foote said. 'But it got better.'

Did it ever.

The Tigers, led by Walch, gradually and continually, moved their way up toward the front group.

Walch had the strongest finish of the Tigard competitors. She moved all the way up to 10th place, individually, turning in a time of 19 minutes, 50.8 seconds for the 5,000-meter race.

'I love this course,' she said with a smile. 'It was a good race. I'm happy - I had a better time then I did last year. I want to keep getting faster.'

Last year, Walch had a mark of 20:18.42 at the Jim Danner Invitational, meaning her time was nearly a half-minute faster this year.

Carroll finished in 16th place in Saturday's race in a time of 20:06.7. Right behind her were Davis, who was 18th at 20:07.6 and Bradley, who was 19th at 20:07.9.

Fekete finished 56th with a time of 21:20.9 and Tiger sophomore Andrea Kirch finished 123rd at 23:05.4.

'The girls did a real good job of moving up,' Foote said.

The Tigard girls are also eyeing the upcoming Pacific Conference district meet, which will be held Oct. 26.

'We hope to do real well,' Walch said. 'We're looking forward to it.'

Khaila Tidwell of Gresham was the individual winner of the Division 2 race at the Jim Danner Invitational in a time of 19:08.

The Tigard boys, competing in the Division 1 race at Saturday's invitational, finished in 21st place in the team standings with 463 points.

Senior Nick Lennartz was the top finisher for the Tigard. He ran to 61st place in a time of 17:10.4.

Tiger senior Jerry Carroll was 91st at 17:31.1, senior Michael Hinds was 92nd at 17:31.6, sophomore Ryan Humphrey was 115th at 17:50.6, sophomore Zane Rogers was 119th at 17:51.8, senior Brian Westlund was 134th at 18:02.2 and sophomore Dylan Hallums was 138th at 18:10.6.

Yonaton Yilma of Edmonds-Woodway, Wash., won the Division 1 boys race in 15:57. West Valley, Alaska, won the Division 1 team title with 136 points.

The Tigers were slated to compete in a Pacific Conference dual race at McMinnville on Wednesday. Results of that meet weren't available when the Times went to press.

Tigard will next be in action in dual meet competition Wednesday at Oregon City.