The Crook County cross country ski team will open their sixth season this Saturday in the Mount Bachelor Classic
If you're one of the many Crook County residents who's jonesing for a rivalry with Redmond, there's still at least one league where it exists.
On Saturday, the Crook County High School cross country ski team - a club sport at CCHS - will compete in the Mount Bachelor Classic in Bend against teams from Summit, Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Bend, Sisters and, of course, Redmond.
The 5K race at Mount Bachelor is the first meet of the season for the newly-created Oregon High School Nordic (OHSNO) league, but a cross country ski team at CCHS has been in existence for six years now.
And while the members of the team have struggled in years past - the squad's best showing was six years ago at districts when the boys team finished third - Coach Tim Zook says the squad remains competitive in a rather rigorous league.
"They are competitive, but they understand the disadvantage we have," Zook said, commenting on the proximity advantage teams in Redmond and Bend have to sno-parks and mountains. "When they race, though, they race really, really hard. They give 100 percent."
Unfortunately for Crook County, OHSNO is made up of some of the better cross country ski teams in the state. Last year at the state meet, Zook said, Redmond, Bend and Mountain View (not in OHSNO) walked away with all the trophies for both the boys and girls teams. And Summit, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year, remains the team to beat with some national-class cross country skiers.
Teams are made up of three skiers, so for Crook County, only the girls team - made up of Leslie and Michelly Foley, Emily Stack, Natalie Hisaw and Molly Zook - will compete as a team. The boys squad, with only David Fisk and Jason Salyer, will compete as individuals, but will still be able to compete at the state meet.
Despite that, however, Zook sees his girls team finishing "middle of the pack," and hopes his members gain an appreciation for the sport.
"I'd like for us to do really well, but if not, there are some bigger, broader goals," Zook said. "My hope is that it will keep growing. If the kids get their own equipment, they'll do it forever, either for fun or competitively."
Zook added that the sport teaches the players how to manage their ski equipment, and allows them to meet students from other schools who are interested in the sport. Said Zook, "The high school ski community tends to be really upbeat and really positive, so it's fun to see the kids be involved within that community."
As Zook says, the sport is also a great aerobic workout. The team practices on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, doing dryland drills, running and lifting in the weight room. On Saturday, the squad tries to get onto the snow, either at Mount Bachelor or Meissner, a sno-park located on the way to Mount Bachelor.
"It's a great sport for cross country (running) because it's really low impact but high aerobic," Zook said.
The state meet will take place on President's Day weekend. Feb. 17-18, 2007 at Mount Bachelor. Up until then, however, Crook County will compete in four meets leading up to the state finale.
Since the state meet is all inclusive, Saturday's Mount Bachelor Classic will simply be a tune-up for things to come.