Marks uses his kick to win again; Pacer runners split with WL, OC

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lakeridge’s Dave Marks, left, turns on the speed to hold off Oregon City’s Jacob Goertz for an individual victory at last week’s cross-country meet at Mary S. Young Park. The Lakeridge boys and girls teams beat Oregon City but lost to West Linn in dual meets.

The cross-country course at Mary S. Young Park is not one of the fastest tracks in the Portland area. In fact, it's not unusual to see top runners finish a minute or more behind their career-best times. So, a lot of people took notice when Lakeridge's Dave Marks was just 18 seconds shy of his top mark at last Wednesday's league meet there against West Linn and Oregon City.

Mark won the race with a time of 16:16, and for the second time this season he beat Oregon City's Jacob Goertz in an exciting race to the finish.

The week before, at McIver State Park, Goertz appeared to be headed to victory before Marks chased him down with an incredible kick. Both runners were clocked with identical 15:58 times but Marks was awarded the victory with his surge at the end.

This time, Marks refused to give Goertz much of a cushion as they headed for the home stretch. In fact, Marks was nipping at the heels of the Oregon City runner as they emerged from the woods with about 400 meters to go.

Moments later, Marks made his pass and managed to hang on as the two runners sprinted full speed for the finish. Goertz made a gallant attempt to re-pass Marks but he wound up one second back with a time of 16:17.

'On the second loop (of the race), he got about 10 meters ahead of me on the downhill side,' Marks recalled. 'But I knew I could pass him and beat him with my kick.'

Marks has never suffered from a lack of confidence, but his performances this year have made the Lakeridge runner even more sure of himself.

'I know my kick is one of the best in the state. And, if I'm anywhere near someone, they're going down,' Marks said.

When it was noted that Marks didn't lack in the confidence department, the runner had to agree.

'Yeah, I'm pretty cocky,' he said.

And maybe for good reason.

'To run 16:16 on this course is just incredible,' Lakeridge coach Ken James said after the meet.

On the team side of the ledger, the West Linn boys can be equally boastful. They were ranked No. 5 in the state heading into last Wednesday's meet and the Lions didn't disappoint as they pulled off easy dual victories over Lakeridge and Oregon City. The Lions wound up with five of the top 14 finishers in a meet that also included Forest Grove and Canby, two highly-touted Pac-6 teams.

The Pacer boys finished fourth in the overall standings, but they were good enough to beat Oregon City. And it wasn't just because of Marks.

Lakeridge also benefited from an excellent race by Alex Anderson, who finished sixth with a time of 17:01. He needed a run like that to finish ahead of Oregon City's No. 2 runner, Alex Seigal, who took eighth with a time of 17:05.

But Anderson wasn't focused that much on Seigal. He was actually keeping his eyes on West Linn's top runner, Michael Bernert, who finished fifth with a time of 16:58.

'We were trying to put two guys in front of their first guy,' James said.

The separation between Lakeridge and Oregon City came with each team's third through fifth runners.

The No. 3 guy for Lakeridge was Rishi Rikhi, who claimed 17th place with a time of 17:45. The next runner for Oregon City was Alex King, who finished 33rd with a time of 18:58. In addition to Marks, Anderson and Rikhi, the Pacers had four other runners who finished ahead of King.

Next in line for the Pacers was Kevin Pearson, who took 23rd with a time of 18:23. Then came Seth Troisi, who was 25th at 18:25; Cole Flora, who was 26th at 18:26; and Jason Middleton, who was 32nd at 18:54.

Early in the season, James was concerned about the prospects of that second group, but those runners are now beginning to close ranks.

'We finished fourth (in the five-way meet), but we were only seven points out of second. Hopefully, we're going to become a lot better team about the middle of October,' James said. 'Since some of our guys are first-time cross-country guys, it's hard to get them where they need to be this early in the season.'

The Lakeridge girls also finished fourth in the five-team field, but they were also well ahead of Oregon City.

The leader for the Pacer girls was Kelly Bartz, who took ninth place with a time of 21:35. Not far back were teammates Zoe Newman, who was 14th with a time of 21:58, and Sydney Baker, who claimed 17th place with a time of 22:15.

'Our top three gals are running really, really well,' James said. 'In workouts, they're usually running really close to each other…

'But the one thing I'm really excited about with all of our girls, is they're all young and they're starting to run really well … I'm more pleased with the progress of our girls team than I am with our guys, just because of where we came from.'

Rounding out the top six for Lakeridge were Jenna Conan (23rd with a 23:15 time), Chloe Block (24th, 23:41) and Abby Poindexter (25th, 23:44).