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Braves hoping for big things despite relatively low turnout

Banks cross-country team will focus on improving over the course of the season

Small in size, great in fun — that might best describe the Banks cross-country team this fall.

“It’s an incredible group of kids,” said coach Rob Frank, back to lead the Braves after a one-year hiatus, taking over for Brandon Begley. “They work so hard that going to practice is a lot of fun.”

A total of five boys and seven girls have turned out this year, and Frank knows pretty much all of them due to their participation in track and field. Those numbers are just enough to field varsity teams, should Frank elect not to spread his team between varsity and junior varsity races, and the team focus is on improvement.

One runner who has shown plenty of that already is Jamie Borchers, who was the girls’ top runner last season and finished ninth at the Cowapa League district meet. In the Braves’ two races this season, the Night Meet in Wilsonville and the Ultimook Race XC Invitational in Tillamook, the junior posted much faster times than she did in 2013.

Pushing her up front are two freshmen who also double as soccer players in Hannah White and Josie O’Harrow. White finished within one second and one place of Borchers by taking 23rd in the varsity 1A through 4A division at the Ultimook meet, and O’Harrow finished in 30th despite getting lost on the course, helping Banks land seventh among 21 teams.

“The three run together, and they kind of feed off each other,” Frank noted. “I think they’re going to help each other out. It’s nice to have people that you can compete with in practice every day.”

Frank is hoping to get a couple more kids to join the team this season, but the other girls who already turned out are junior Tiffany Jansen, and sophomores Anna Klein, Julia VanDerZanden, and Jaime Evers, who finished seventh in the Cowapa district track meet in the 400 meters and is working on her endurance.

As for the boys, sophomore Erik Larsen was the team’s top runner at the Ultimook, and fellow track team participants Levi Carreon — a district meet placer in the hurdles — Beck Cameron and Noah Denker are trying their hand at distance running. Kane Hilliard recently turned out after racing a couple of meets for the Braves last fall. Both Carreon and Cameron played soccer for Banks last fall, but due to low turnout, the Braves will not be fielding a boys team this year.

With Class 3A power Valley Catholic joining the Cowapa and talent on other teams as well, Frank expects the league to be a tough one for cross-country in 2014.

“I think the league is really strong, stronger than it’s been in all the years I ever coached cross-country,” he said.

Banks races next on Saturday at the Molalla Invitational. The Cowapa district meet is slated for Oct. 25 at Camp Rilea on the coast.

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