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LO cross country teams off to strong start

by:  DAN BROOD Nate Normo was the top finisher for the Lake Oswego boys at last week’s Tualatin Invitational

Both of Lake Oswego's cross country teams are primed for strong seasons this fall.

The Lake Oswego boys return plenty of experienced runners including a pair of state qualifiers from last year.

Todd Macdonald and Jared Bell are both back after making it to Eugene last fall and will look to get the entire team there this season.

Nate Normo also returns following a terrific track season last spring where he made it to state in the 1500.

"He's a guy who's fought injuries for years and we're finally getting him healthy," coach Eric Lider said.

Normo was the team's top finisher at the Tualatin Invitational taking fourth place overall.

The Lakers have plenty of depth this season and Lider is looking forward to seeing who else steps up throughout the year.

"There's a lot of in-team competition. We have a really solid top seven and guys who are coming up who could help," Lider said.

Peter Banta is also back for the Lakers as a senior and is running some of his fastest times.

Phil Kearns is also back and turned in the Lakers' second best time at Tualatin.

Matt Agritelley is a strong sophomore for the team and Brendan Holser, Connor Wilson, Joel Porter and Sam Hoover should all contribute as well.

This year 115 runners came out for cross country which broke last year's record turnout.

"It's great that we're getting a lot of kids who are enjoying being part of this team," Lider said.

Lake Oswego is expected to be one of the top teams in the league this year and has made it a goal to get the team to state. It figures to receive a strong challenge from Lakeridge this year as well.

Lake Oswego's girls team is expected to be much improved this year and features a lot of new faces.

"It's going to take us a while to get there but we should be pretty solid by districts. We're not so much interested in meet results right now it's more about the experience," Lider said.

Freshman Shae Vallaire was the team's top finisher at Tualatin by nearly a minute, taking ninth place and should be one of the more exciting runners in the league this season.

Tatum Johnson is back for her senior season along with Paige Kehoe, giving the Lakers some veteran experience.

Alyssa Dragelin, Lexi Cheetham and Lauren and Kaitlyn Zurcher will also give the team some depth.

The Lake Oswego girls have been slowly building up their endurance and hope to make great strides over the next few months.

"We're looking for districts to definitely be our best meet," Lider said.

The Lakers will run at Blue Lake next which will count as their meet against Canby.