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New coach guides deep Pacer cross-country teams

Scott Spear heads up a Lakeridge team looking for a quick return to prominence

Photo Credit: VERN UYETAKE - Noah Belcik returns as one of the top runners for the Lakeridge boys cross-country team this year. After losing a large number of top-tier runners in recent seasons, Lakeridge's cross-country team is hoping for a return to prominence this year.

Scott Spear has taken over the head coaching job after longtime coach Ken James stepped down over the summer. Spear has assisted with the Pacers for the past three seasons.

Lakeridge is already off to a very strong start this season. The Pacer boys team claimed a narrow victory at the Ultimook Invitational in Tillamook while the girls finished second in the same meet behind Grant.

Lakeridge's top two runners this year are Noah Belcik and Daniel Ragsdale, both juniors but the Pacers are loaded with depth.

“I think our top six is really only separated by about 15 seconds so far,” Spear said.

Alex Harbert, Gabe Smith-Nilsen, Justin Miller and Reed Mederos have all been solid early in the season, along with senior captain Tim Jordan.

“I think, if we stay healthy and progress, the guys should be right in the thick of it,” Spear said about the Pacers' chances in the TRL.

The Lakeridge boys could be a formidable pack, working together to push each other in the season but Spear is also hoping that a few individuals emerge who can move up and challenge some of top runners in the league.

“It's funny, on paper it looks like the team finished as one big pack but everyone ran very different races,” Spear said.

For the girls, the team is also fairly young with just one senior and a pair of freshmen expected to make an impact.

Elli Newman is back as the squad's top runner this season. She took eighth at the Tillamook race and is poised to be a big leader for the Pacers.

Junior twins Sophie and Lillie French who recently transferred in from Washington should also provide Lakeridge with depth this year along with Maj Wehrmeister and Riley Humbert.

Early in the season, the Pacers are working on helping each other and getting into the best possible shape.

“A lot of the kids haven't really run together as a cohesive team yet. We'll know more about ourselves in the next few races,” Spear said.

Lakeridge ran against Lake Oswego and Tualatin at Lake Oswego Junior High on Wednesday.


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