Cross country: St. Paul runners continue to improve
As the 2018 fall cross country season begins to round into shape, the St. Paul Buckaroos were able to get a sneak preview at the upcoming district championship after traveling to Stayton Middle School for the Stayton/Regis Invitational on Thursday.
The event featured a number of small schools from throughout the Willamette Valley and surrounding regions, along with a few 4A and 5A programs to round out the field of runners.
Seeking to make a return trip to the state championship race after a surprise berth last year, the St. Paul girls were led by a top-20 finish from senior Rachel Vela, who finished 17th with a time of 23:24.90 to lead the Bucks to a seventh-place finish among the 10 full teams competing.
It was a season-best time for the Bucks' top runner, who has cut more than a minute and a half from her 5K time from her first race of the season. Although she is still a ways off her PR of 22:33.70 set at George Fox last year, Vela's finish was nearly 13 seconds better than her time at last year's Stayton/Regis Invitational and already on par with her time at the 2017 district championship event.
Further down the lists, fellow senior Taysha Veeman clocked in at 25:53.50 for 40th, followed by junior Jackie Diaz at 27:12.10 in 47th and sophomore Mayra Lozano at 27:41.60 in 53rd. Veeman's time has hovered in the high 25-minute range for the past month, while Diaz's time was the second-best of the season thus far.
Lozano was just a few seconds off her season-best time set the previous month at Oregon Episcopal.
Rounding out the girls team was junior Abby Gonzalez, who placed eighth in 31:49.80.
On the boys side, sophomore Broden Lear continues to push his name toward the top of the ranks among the district's elite runners. Lear was coming off a career-best time at Jefferson on Sept. 25 in which he clocked in at 17:56, his first ever mark under 18 minutes.
The sophomore nearly matched that at Stayton, finishing in seventh place in 18:01.30, his second-best time of the season, leading the Bucks to a sixth-place finish out of a 14-team field.
It was Lear's third consecutive finish in the top 10, all of which have been below the 18:02 mark. Of the competitors from 3A/2A/1A schools, Lear ranked third overall, placing behind Cam McChesney of Veritas (4th, 16:51.0) and Isaac Whitney of Oakridge (5th, 17:27.30).
Junior teammate Gianni Grasso also enjoyed a stellar day at the races, placing 33rd with a season-best time of 19:46.40, falling three seconds shy of the personal record he set last year at George Fox.
Following behind were senior Wyatt Bean and sophomore Hayden Schindler, each of whom finished with season records for 2018. Bean placed 50th with a finish in 20:41.50, while Schindler was 52nd in 20:45.30.
Rounding out the field for the boys was senior Turner Lear, who was 89th in 23:40.70 and junior Josh Hershberger, who set a personal-best time of 23:59.20 to place 90th.
St. Paul travels south this week to the Chemawa Invitational hosted at Chemawa High School in Salem on Thursday.
The Kennedy cross country team made the long trek to the east coast last week, competing at the Massegon Invitational outside of Boston on Saturday.
Senior Alejandra Lopez led the girls team, finishing first overall in her third consecutive race with a time of 19:05.
It was the second-best finish of the season for Lopez, who set a personal record of 18:47.60 earlier in the season.
Sophomore Cassie Traeger placed 20th at the event in 22:51, an incredible PR of nearly 40 seconds over her previous best set at last year's state championship race.
She was followed by senior Clarissa Traeger at 24:15.
On the boys side, junior Luke Hall led the team with a second-place finish in 17:54. It was the second-best time of the season for Hall, who previously set his PR of 17:38 in September.
Junior Nick Riedman followed with a 10th-place finish in 18:35 for a season-best time.
The rest of the varsity team included Micah Parker (14th, 19:15), Gianni Velazquez (15th, 19:24), Michael Savage (19th, 20:50), Carlos Saravia (21st, 21:17) and Nick Spickelmier (27th, 21:39).
Parker and Velazquez set new personal records in the race, while Savage and Saravia finished with season-best times.
Senior Giovanni Bravo clocked his best time of the season at the 15th annual Harrier Classic in Albany on Saturday.
Coming off of consecutive first-place finishes to finish September, Bravo bested himself with a time of 16:14.50 to finish eighth overall at the event, which features a wide field of 6A and 5A programs.
The Bulldogs finished 18th overall among the 36 teams competing, the highest of any 4A school at the race.
Senior teammate Jalen Jones followed in 36th with a time of 17:05.00.
Aldo Sanchez added a season-best time of his own with an 84th-place finish in 17:49.90, while junior Riley Menezes made his second appearance of the year, setting a new PR of 18:45.90.
Cesar Torres (20:58.49), Robert Ramirez (22:17.05) and William Peterson (22:17.64) rounded out the rest of the boys varsity team.
North Marion Huskies
Freshman Matthew Petrjanos and senior Jesse Agnew finished back-to-back at Oregon City High School on Oct. 3 to lead the Huskies last week.
Petrjanos placed 15th in 19:05.26, while Agnew set a new PR of 19:09.30.