Tualatin has strong returnees and talented newcomers

by: DAN BROOD - BACK AND RUNNING STRONG -- Matthew Lovos, shown her at last year's Pacific Conference district meet, is back for his junior year at Tualatin. Lovos raced to second place at last year's district event. TUALATIN — The Tualatin High School cross country teams are hoping they have the right combination this season.

For the Timberwolves, that would be the combination of solid returning runners and some promising newcomers.

“Our turnout is more than 60 runners,” Tualatin head coach Paul Zitzelsberger said. “(Assistant) Coach (Andrew) Bonica has done an excellent job recruiting new runners. It will be an interesting blend of veterans and a lot of newcomers. We cannot wait for the season to begin.”

The Tualatin boys team features some strong returnees from last year’s Timberwolf squad that went 5-2 in Pacific Conference dual meets and then earned a Class 6A state meet berth by finishing second in the league’s district meet.

That group of returnees includes junior Matthew Lovos, who was the individual runner-up at last year’s Pacific Conference district meet, where he turned in a time of 17 minutes and 1 second for the 5,000-meter race.

Also returning from last year’s state-qualifying Tualatin boys team are senior Tyler Snyder, junior Ben Love, sophomore Malachi Seib and junior Billy Calder.

Snyder ran to seventh place at district last year in a time of 17:23. Love was 11th at 17:32, Seib was 24th at 18:00 and Caulder was 40th with a mark of 18:29.

They’ll be pushed this year by sophomore Tucker Leneve, sophomore Jason Stallkamp, junior Eric Breyer, senior Adam Mitchell, senior Griffin Jack, senior Derek Maidel and senior Kevin Haudbine, who will be looking to challenge for varsity spots.

Sophomore newcomer Mark French could also be in the mix.

“He’s been impressive after putting in miles during the summer,” Zitzelsberger said.

Other newcomers could also be a factor for the Wolves.

“We have a large freshman class and look forward to see how that group develops,” Zitzelsberger said.

Zitzelsberger sees his team having to battle with Forest Grove, McMinnville and Tigard to get one of the league’s two team berths to the state meet.

The Tualatin girls have a pair of returnees, sophomore Amanda Keen and senior Alyssa Fuji, from last year’s varsity squad that went 4-3 in the dual meet season and then finished in fifth place at the district meet. Keen placed 30th at last year’s district event and Fuji was 43rd.

Tualatin has more returnees with experience, including sophomore Sarah Krill, junior Krista Zobrist, sophomore Kristen Elder and junior Jane Westenhaver.

The Wolves also have 16 first-year runners, including the team’s largest freshman class in years.

“It will be interesting to see how the season develops,” Zitzelsberger said. “They are working hard and improving each day.”

Zitzelsberger sees Forest Grove, Newberg and Tigard as the girls teams to be to get to the state meet this season.

The Tualatin teams will open their season Wednesday when they host the annual Tualatin Invitational, that will be held at the high school.

The event starts with the girls 3,400-meter junior varsity race, starting at 4 p.m. The boys 3,400 junior varsity race will begin at 4:25 p.m. The girls 5,000 varsity race will start at 4:50 p.m. and the boys 5,000 varsity race is slated for 5:25 p.m.

Other schools slated to compete at the event include Aloha, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, South Salem, West Linn, Life Christian, Portland Lutheran, Portland Waldorf, Scio, Southwest Christian and Westside Christian.

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