Junior starts cross country on right foot

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior Erin Gregoire made her triumphant return to the cross country team with a victory at the Tualatin Invitational last Wednesday.

The fortunes of the Beaverton girls cross country team have changed in the past year.

Twelve months ago, Erin Gregoire didn't run for the Beavers due to injury, Emma Bowder ran hurt, and Olivia Rabin was in eighth grade.

If Beaverton's outing at the season-opening Tualatin Invite on Wednesday is any indication, then it might be wise to invest in the Beavers' stock come Metro dual meets.

Gregoire was stellar in her first cross country meet in two years, taking first-place honors with a 19:14 finish. Rabin and Bowder traded positions back-and-forth for much of the race until Bowder nosed her freshman teammate by one second to take sixth place (21:00).

Alexis Amesquita's ninth place (21:44) and Anisha Malynur's 28th place (22:55) helped round out Beaverton's 50 team points and overall first place over South Salem.

“I'm really excited about this season,” said Gregoire. “We have a lot of new girls. Olivia is a freshman. We have a lot of underclassmen. Hopefully, we can just go up from here.”

“I think we all get along really well and work well together,” Bowder. “I think it'll be a good year.”

Gregoire said she was nervous coming into the race, being that she was the defending Tualatin Invite champion from a year ago. Furthermore, Gregoire didn't run cross country as a sophomore due to injury, so she was anxious to get a race under her belt.

West Linn's Johanna Briscoe actually had the lead over Gregoire as the two competitors looped around Byron Elementary School and up back toward the football field with a mile to go. However, the Beaver sophomore patiently bided her time and breezed by Briscoe with a half-mile left to pick up the first place.

“I was really tired when she started to pass me,” said Gregoire. “I kind of thought that was it, but when I saw her at the top of the track, I knew it was the last mile, and I had a bit left so I was able to pick up to her and pass her. Thankfully.”

Gregoire said she was encouraged about the last mile because she was able to kick it in and have just enough left in her legs to close it out.

“I was completely dead,” said Gregoire. “But I knew if I didn't do my best, then I'd be really disappointed in myself afterward, and so I just tried to go for it and it worked out.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beavertons Emma Bowers, front, and Olivia Rabin, back, went six-seven for the Beavers at the Tualatin Invite last Wednesday.

Part of the squad

In her varsity debut, Rabin ran like a seasoned vet, taking seventh overall (21:01).

“I felt good,” said Rabin. “This is my first race, so I was just glad I finished. I was really nervous before the race, but I felt good during the race, and I had Emma Bowder to run with, so it was nice to have someone to try and stay with.”

Rabin said she'd like to reach the 20-minute range this season and be one of the top runners on the girls' team. The Beaverton upperclassmen have taken the freshman under their wings and made her feel like part of the squad early on.

“I'm really excited,” said Rabin. “I did the summer practice and everyone on the team is so nice. I'm just glad to be a part of it.”

Bowder said she wasn't feeling the best mentally out on the course, but still was at the top of the leader board and able to place in the top 10. Last year, the sophomore ran injured and didn't put up the times she'd hoped to. Bowder pointed out that if she can stay healthy, then she'd like to break the 20-minute barrier and get into the 19's.

“I feel like within this month I can get back to where I want to be,” said Bowder. “I definitely want to do well at districts, and I'm hoping to make it to state sometime during my high school career. I'm not sure about this year with me coming back and getting my times down, but hopefully I can go to state. I think the team could too, if we keep improving.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Alohas Oralia Funez Mojica, left, and Sara Henderson, right, helped the Warriors have a standout showing at the Tualatin Invitational last Wednesday.

Open audition

Aloha senior Sara Henderson and sophomore Oralia Funez Mojica used the Tualatin Invite as an open audition of sorts. With the Aloha girls varsity cross country team resting for their trip to New York, they competed as varsity runners. They're on the cusp of earning one of those coveted varsity spots. Wednesday's outing for both athletes did little to hurt their case.

Funez Mojica (22:16) took 17th, and Henderson (19th place) wasn't far behind with a 22:18. Jackie Molina (22:49), Elaine Reger (23:01) and Heather Kristoff (24:38) helped the Warriors take fifth overall ahead of Silverton and Tualatin.

“We're working our way up there,” said Henderson. “I think as the season goes on, we'll get a place on varsity. I have a good feeling about that. My PR last season was 21:25, and last year I started at 24 minutes. So, to start out at 22:16 is really good. I'm really excited to see what I can do later on in the season.”

“It can only get better from here,” added Funez Mojica. “We're working up there. From here on I can only improve and get better. I'm excited to see how everything's going to work out. The girls here are working their butts off, and they're just amazing. This season is going to be the best.”

Henderson received a varsity letter last year as a junior, but the Tualatin Invite was her first actual varsity race. Henderson said she wanted to pinpoint her mindset, especially on keeping her technique solid and her arms pumping up the hills of the trek.

“I really focused on not letting my mind interfere with what my body can do,” said Henderson. “I really let that take charge throughout the race.”

“It was really scary because this is my first time doing it, but it felt great. It was awesome,” said Funez Mojica. “I was focusing on the girl in front of me because I have a really bad habit of looking down, but I looked up and didn't let her go. I slowly went from there and went one-by-one.”

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