Dalton Susee sets JFK's top mark in the 5,000 at Bush Pasture Park

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Kennedy senior Dalton Susee sprints ahead of East Linns Jamin Hooley in the final stretch of Thursdays cross country meet at Bush Pasture Park to take first place. Susees time of 16:31.4 sets a new Kennedy High School record in the 5,000-meters, breaking the previous mark recorded in 2004.As Kennedy senior Dalton Susee raced toward the finish line at Thursday’s PacWest-West Valley meet at Bush Pasture Park, he knew he could break the school’s record in the 5K because he had already done so a week earlier.

“You know how cross country is,” said Kennedy cross country coach?Steve Ritchie after the race. “Because every course is a little different, in order to set the record, you have to do it at Bush Park.”

Susee had broken the school record on Oct. 11 at Sandelie Golf Course when he finished 38th with a personal record time of 16:40.1. It was seven seconds better than the school mark set by Corey Donohue in 2004, but it didn’t officially count on the record books because it wasn’t at Bush Park in Salem.

“We always have the district meet there, so that’s the course you have to set the record on,” said Ritchie.

Susee shattered the time at Thursday’s race. After spending the majority of the 5K in a two-way race with East Linn?Christian’s Jamin Hooley, Susee pulled away over the course of the final 200-plus yards to take first place overall and set the new JFK mark at 16:31.4.

“I?know that was a major goal for Dalton this year, so it’s really exciting that he was able to get it,” said Ritchie.

The race was the final regular-season contest for the Trojans before the team travels back to Salem for the district championship competition this Thursday.

“It was a big confidence booster for him going into district and state,” said Ritchie.

With the district championships this week, the Trojans appear to be peaking at just the right time.

Junior Lauren Stokley was uncontested Thursday, winning her fourth race of the season with a personal-record time of 20:15.7.

Stokley took the top mark of the race with a 30-second lead over the second-place finisher, and with much of the same competition coming back to Bush Park for districts Thursday, she is a virtual lock for earning her way to a state championship berth.

Back on the boys side, Susee was not the only Trojan runner to have a great day.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Sophomore Adrian Parra set the school's record for a sophomore when he finished fourth with a time of 16:58.7. Together, Parra and Susee helped the Trojans finish in second place in the team standings at Thursday's race in Salem.Teammate Adrian Parra set the school’s record by a sophomore after finishing fourth with a time of 16:58.7. Parra had set the school’s freshman mark in 2012, and his performance last week helped lift the Trojans to a second-place finish behind meet champion East Linn Christian.

“He’s a kid with a ton of potential, and he’s just really beginning to realize that,” said Ritchie. “He’s beginning to mature as a runner and he’s not so afraid of going out hard.”

Over the course of the season, Ritchie has seen Parra emerge as a more confident runner that starts races stronger instead of starting tentatively and moving through the field.

“In yesterday’s race, he was out in the top five right away,” said Ritchie. “That’s been a big change for him, to be confident enough to go out hard.”

Freshman Noe Jines finished 10th with a personal record of 17:34.9, while teammates John?Savage (27th, 18:43.2) and Brent Lang (50th, 19:44.9) rounded out the team’s scores.

“Noe is doing a great job as a freshman,” said Ritchie. “I?think he would like to be a little faster at this point in the year, but I think he’s doing very well.”

Ritchie pointed out that Jines is the team’s second-fast freshman in school history behind Parra’s times from last season.

Overall, the Trojans are the favorite to take the district championship and qualify the whole boys team for state.

The girls lack the requisite number to field a full team, so Stokley will be forced to challenge for an individual berth awarded to each of the top five finishers.

“I’ve been really pleased with their progress this year, and they have been able to stay healthy, which is a huge thing,” said Ritchie. “A lot of times after this many weeks of the season, there’s some nagging aches and pains, and physically, we only have one or two kids that I’m concerned about at this point, so that’s really positive.”

If things go as planned and both Stokley and Susee are running at the 3A/2A/1A State Championships on Nov. 2 in Eugene, Ritchie thinks his top runners have a chance to finish near the top of the ranks.

“They can both certainly shoot for a top-10 finish, and on a good day, if things go well, they can both shoot for a top five,” he said. “(Those) would be tremendous state meets.”

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