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Pacers top Laker runners in dual meet, Adidas Invite next

The battle to make it to state in cross country appears that it could go down to the wire this year and, for both the boys and the girls, it could be a close fight between Lakeridge and Lake Oswego.

A sneak preview of what is to come at the district meet occurred last week in McMinnville when the teams squared off against each other.

The Lakers were running without John Paden on the boys side and without Tate Murray for the girls and the Pacers came away with wins in both races.

The boys meet was exceedingly close with the Pacers winning 26-31.

The anticipated showdown between Alex Anderson and Elijah Greer lived up to its billing. Both runners had different strategies.

Anderson started out quickly to put the pressure on Greer and ran the opening mile in 4:53.

'Alex went out hard and ran a really good race. He found out where he was at and now knows he needs to step it up a bit,' Pacer coach Ken James said.

But Greer was patient and bided his time. He steadily made up ground and, just before the 3K mark, he passed the Pacer and never looked back.

Greer expanded his lead up until he crossed the finish line and ended up with a time of 15:49, marking the first time the senior has cracked 16 minutes. It was also a new course record.

'Elijah ran smart. I wouldn't want to have to race him right now,' Laker coach Eric Lider said.

Lake Oswego's Paul Hoard took third in the race, running a new personal best.

'Paul went out slow and then caught some of the Lakeridge kids at the end,' Lider said.

But the Pacers won the day with their depth.

A talented group of juniors finished in a pack at fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

Seth Troisi was the Pacers' second runner and Kevin Pearson crossed the finish line just 11 seconds behind.

Twelve seconds later, Max Heninger finished the race, edging out a pair of Lake Oswego runners in the process.

'There's some good competition between all those guys,' James said.

Lake Oswego's Isaac Hayden and Reed Oliver finished in ninth and 10th place.

With Paden returning, the two teams figure to be very equally matched and it could be a photo finish between them to see who grabs second place behind West Linn at the district meet.

In the girls race, Lakeridge's depth was on display again. Kelly Bartz took second place overall, shattering her personal best time by over 20 seconds.

She was followed by Kayla Al-Khaledy in fifth and Zoe Newman in seventh. Each of those girls ran their best times of the year.

'For Kayla that was a great race. She's gone from our No. 7 girls to our No. 2 in this race,' James said.

Senior Sydney Baker also had a stellar performance, taking 12th place and Abby Poindexter took 16th.

'We have good depth and we know we have a lot of potential,' James said.

Lake Oswego didn't have its pace-setter in Murray but it gave its two through five runners a chance to experience a different kind of race.

Emily Hoard was the team's top finisher in eighth place and ran a terrific race.

'That was a new role for her and she really went after it,' Lider said.

Lake Oswego's entire team ran well with Molly Ponkevitch taking 13th. Sarah Morse and Jocelyn Aguilar finished close together in 17th and 18th and Irene Lee rounded out the Lakers' top five.

The Pacers won the race 18-38. Next up for both teams will be the Adidas Invite featuring some of the best teams in the state in what should be a terrific tune-up before districts.

The district meet will be held in two weeks at Clackamas Community College.