The Kingsmen sport a veteran lineup

Putnam cross country coach Brent Eggers is hopeful that his girls cross country team will finish among the top three teams in the eight-team Northwest Oregon Conference when the district meet rolls around on Oct. 24.

“It would be difficult to crack the top two, with Sherwood and Wilsonville so strong,” Eggers said. “But we could crack the top three if we have everyone and they all run well. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t finish in the top half of the league.”

The Kingsmen return their top five runners from last year’s varsity team that finished sixth at district. But Eggers rarely sees two of those runners — seniors Maddie Makinster and Brianna Barnes — because they are also playing soccer.

Competing without Makinster and Barnes in a four-team meet at St. Helens on Sept. 26, the Kingsmen still defeated cross-town rival Milwaukie 25-34, and they gave St. Helens a run for its money in a 27-29 loss. They lost to Sherwood, the fourth team at the meet, 20-42.

“It was a pretty solid effort,” Eggers said. “Considering we didn’t have everybody there, it was a pretty good meet for us.”

The Kingsmen return two girls Eggers believes have the ability to place in the top five at district and qualify for state as individuals in seniors Kelsey Hilsenteger and Makinster.

Hilsenteger was second and Makinster was fifth at district a year ago, and both girls ran in the 2011 state meet.

“Kelsey this year is capable of being a district champion and placing in the top 10 at state,” Eggers said. “She’s gotten off to a slow start, but we’re hoping she gets to that level....

“I think Maddie has a good chance of duplicating last year.”

Hilsenteger placed ninth at state as a sophomore and 15th at state last fall.

Rounding out the Kingsmen top six are: Barnes and juniors Monserrat Martinon, Kendra Goulter and Shelby Van Leuven. Van Leuven ran jayvee last season.

Eggers said of Martinon, “Monserrat is a really hard worker and she has really improved over last year.”

Hilsenteger was Putnam’s top runner in last week’s meet at St. Helens, but she finished a distant second to Milwaukie senior Sasha Gonzalez over the 5,000-meter course, 19:48 to 20:26.

Asked if she thinks she has a chance of making state this year, Sasha Gonzalez said, “I am going to state.”

Gonzalez was the No. 2 runner for the Mustangs last year, when they won the NWOC title and placed eighth at state.

With only Gonzalez and junior Becky Ponnay returning, it’s likely to be a lean year for Milwaukie’s girls cross country team this fall.

Still, Milwaukie coach Jen Seibel likes her two returning runners’ chances.

“Right now Sasha has the third best time in the Northwest Conference, and she’s always working really hard,” Seibel said. “Becky is top seven, and she’s already near her PR.”

Gonzalez placed 38th out 165 runners last Saturday competing in the highest division [Jim Danner Championship Division] of the Nike Pre-Nationals. Her time for the Portland Meadows 5,000-meter course was 19:26, just 14 seconds off her best time from the 2011 season.

Competing in the Nike Pre-Nationals junior-senior race, Ponnay placed second in a field of 242 runners, finishing in a near-PR of 21:03.

Having graduated their top four runners, Putnam’s boys cross country team is awork in progress. Three juniors have been battling one another for the No. 1 spot this season — Joe Venetucci, Logan Anspach and Nik Walters.

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