XC - Wilsonville Night Meet Update

XC - Wilsonville Night Meet Update
30 AUGUST, 2019

After two-plus months of training with their teammates – and no racing to be had – your Ram boys were certainly looking forward to donning their racing kits for the first event of the season.  No matter the setting or the race distance or the competition or the weather, it is always a joy for our boys to toe the line against athletes from other schools.  The Wilsonville Night Meet has been the season opener many times for your Rams, and this year’s version lived up to its billing as a very competitive and fun affair. With many traditionally strong squads in attendance – and 46 teams total – everyone would find themselves in a race that fit their needs.

The Night Meet is a 3000m affair, run primarily in “class races”, i.e. seniors only, juniors only, etc…, limited to six entries per school in each class. Beyond those six, athletes compete in “novice” races, one of which features a number of outstanding runners.  The “Novice B1” race was up first for our crew, and it was successful on many levels. Leading the way for the Rams were seniors LUCAS CARROLL and AIDAN GRATTON, both of whom PRed by over a minute.  Lucas – a much more svelte Lucas as compared to last year! – knocked 72 seconds off his time from 2018, crossing the line 3rd of 229 finishers. Aidan wasn’t far behind in 18th, ticks behind former Ram Alex Rasmussen in 12th repping the cardinal and silver(!!!) of Franklin HS.
Freshman twins NASH and REED NEWTON made their CCHS debuts here, and both gave a fine effort.   Nash was 93rd while Reed and classmate DANNY VOLK finished 148th & 146th respectively. Junior ZACH PERKINS, in his first year with the team, got off to a solid start in 166th.

Six Rams toed the line for the Novice B2 race, and, again, found success.  ALEX BENSON ’20 led the way with a fine 6th place run. SPENCER MARTIN ’22 was next across the line for the CCHS men in 45th, forty seconds faster than his best 3km a year ago. ALEKSANDER MIZGAJSKI ’20 finished 54th, just three seconds off of his PR. Classmate CORY MARLEAU and freshman BRADY DUGAN were 74th & 78th.  This was Brady’s first ever cross country race – and he was 80 seconds better than his brother Finn’s debut at this meet two years ago.  (Brady’s great advantage is in having an older brother who models the effort needed to be successful at this sport!) Sophomore PETER JULIANO rounded out the group in 92nd.
While all of the “class” races were still to come, one of the Rams’ highlights came in the Novice A race. HOLDEN SPENCER, despite having an outstanding summer of training, was no better than the eighth ranked senior on the CCHS squad and was thus relegated to this Novice race (as only six seniors were accepted into that class race). His effort was tactically beautiful, and it became clear mid-race that he was the class of the field. Over the final kilometer he put 14 seconds on the runner up.  More impressively he stopped the clock at 9:42.  That time would have been #4 for the Rams of 2018 – a team that went on to win the Oregon State Meet; on this day it was 9th best (with Joe Halsey missing the meet) for the crew.  Suffice to say that Holden has improved greatly and is headed for an outstanding senior year.

Another senior primed for a great improvement is ELI RHEINGOLD.  Although he hasn’t been feeling “on top of his game” the last few weeks, he knocked thirty seconds off his junior year effort, crossing the line in 10:27, good for 8th place in the 109 man field. Seniors LOGAN FISHER and NOAH TRAER also had outstanding performances in 25th and 33rd; Noah was edged by the aforementioned junior FINN DUGAN in 31st.  Finn’s 11:09 was three minutes, forty-five seconds better than his freshman year time.  Yes, 3:45 better.  He has worked hard to get to this point, and there is no doubt that he will set numerous PRs this fall.

One more Ram competed in the Novice A race, RIVER SAMPSON ‘20.  River transferred from Franklin a year ago but missed the cross country season. We were privileged to have him on the track team, and his unbridled happiness is contagious with his teammates. On this day he desperately wanted to break 12:00 – and he did, finishing 83rd in 11:58.
The freshmen were up next, and there were a myriad of interesting story lines for these Rams wearing the cardinal and gold for the first time. WESLEY SHIPSEY came to CCHS much heralded, but he had been injured for much of the spring and summer.  In the days before the race his hip had acted up again, giving both athlete and coach pause in terms of his participation on this night. TRISTAN SULLIVAN was more of an 800-1500m guy in junior high but had looked amazingly strong throughout the summer.  LIAM MURPHY had been training at a high level, and much was expected of him, while GARRETT MACKEY was somewhat of a surprise to the coaching staff in July and August.  The biggest “question mark” was CHARLIE BLACK; he had attended only a few (optional) summer practices until he made the decision to join the cross country team “full time” in mid-August, but in that short time he clearly had impressed the coaching staff and his teammates.

Despite his injury issues and lack of training, there was little doubt that Wes would race in the lead pack (if he were able to race). Thickening the plot was the fact that two of the other top freshmen in the race were Wes’ Tigard Youth Track Club teammates for the past three years.

After a warmup devoid of issues, these five freshmen toed the line with very high hopes. All five had very specific race plans – similar to plans employed by Ram yearlings in recent years.  Wes was to be in the front group – but NOT leading until after the mile mark.  Tristan, Charlie, and Liam would run just outside the top 10, and Garrett around 25th. They stuck to the plan well with Wes following his buddies Law (Milwaukie) and Weisgerber (Wilsonville) to the mile.  Tristan and Liam were still just outside the top 10, but Charlie had surprisingly surged to join Wes in the front group. 

Wes took the lead from there but was unable to drop any of his three challengers – including teammate Charlie.  With 300m to go Wes was still on the front as he, Law, and Weisgerber pulled away from Charlie.  As they turned the corner onto the football field for the last 100m Wes had just one more gear and inched away for the win – and the second “winner’s gnome” of the evening for the Rams.  Wes’ time of 9:43 was the fastest Ram frosh since Zack Lavier’s 9:43 in 2011.  Charlie finished fourth in 9:48, while Tristan kicked ferociously to nab 13th in 10:09.  Garrett moved up steadily and was 21st in 10:29, just behind Giacomo Capriotti of Lincoln.  Liam struggled over the last half mile, but still was a very respectable 22nd.
This was a fantastic overall result for the frosh crew; Wes is nowhere near his top fitness level, while Charlie is terribly raw as a runner.  Tristan is starting to understand racing “distance”, and Garrett simply has a huge upside.  Liam has a big aerobic engine and will have way more good days than bad as a Ram. While there are no official team scores in this meet, the CCHS freshman squad “won” over fourteen complete teams, scoring 43 points to runner-up Sunset’s 76.  It is going to be a very enjoyable four years with these young men.

One hundred forty-eight athletes lined up for the sophomore race, including Rams DANIEL WOODS, JULIAN KINGERY, and HENRY TIERNEY.  Daniel had improved immensely since he began running a year ago.  Henry, like Tristan, is considered more of an 800-1500m runner, but he had been extremely consistent this summer.  Conversely, Julian had been fighting plantar fasciitis for much of the summer and certainly is not at the level he’ll reach by late October. Despite this, Julian is a ridiculously competitive young man, and he was intent on “defending the gnome” that he won last year as a freshman. He ran in the front group for the first mile until his missed training caught up with him. While he was not able to defend his title, his fourth place effort of 9:34 was 25 seconds better than he ran in 2018. Henry ran right around 20th place for much of the race before unleashing a wicked kick to finish 15th, just dipping under the 10:00 min mark and knocking 36 seconds off his frosh mark.  Daniel was steady throughout and finished 62nd (10:58), over a minute faster than his run a year ago on the same course.

The junior race featured a quartet of Rams – CHRIS GRAY, LUKE HORNE, JACKSON CURRIER, and ANDERS BEIL.  A year ago Anders had struggled in the summer, but that was not the case in 2019.  Running a “textbook Anders Beil” race, he stuck himself near the back of the very large front group early on and did not panic when the pace picked up.  Many runners attempted to cover the early moves up front, but most had no business doing so as Franklin’s outstanding junior Charlie Robertson roared away to the fastest time of the day, 8:48. Anders, no better than 15th at the mile, kept picking off those who had gone out a bit hard and was still passing folks in the final 100m. He finished 6th in 9:19 – a thirty-one second improvement upon his sophomore mark.  Recall that Anders was Honorable Mention All-State a year ago – so this huge effort bodes very well indeed for November.

Luke has been battling a myriad of nagging injuries this summer and has missed some training, but he ran a very steady race here, earning a medal in 19th place, 9:44. There is no doubt that Luke will be a force when these injuries are a thing of the past.

Finishing 28th was Jackson in 9:54 – another huge improvement over last year (34 seconds), while Chris was 63rd in 10:19. Both of these guys have had sporadic summer training due to work, travel, and other commitments, so these excellent efforts are a great sign for later this fall.

The final race of the evening (10pm!) was the senior boys – and our Rams were ready to roll.  After watching their classmate Holden smash the Novice A race and seeing the rest of their teammates perform admirably, the seniors were fired up.  Lining up for the Rams were four athletes who competed at the State Meet a year ago – JOSUE CORONA-SOLIS, SPENCER HARDY, JAMESON WESTHEAD, and MARCUS DAVID – and two veterans without much varsity level experience in SAM PERKINS and COLE O’DONNELL. 

Cole had a breakthrough last spring and has his sights set on a varsity spot this fall.  Sam started his CCHS career as one of the top runners in this class, but he has fought a variety of maladies over the last two and half years as his teammates have improved tremendously. This summer has seen “the return of Sam Perkins” as he has been training at an amazingly high level, reminiscent of former Ram greats Austin Jones ’08, Everett Stilley ’10, Jackson Frank ’16, and Matt McCausland ‘17 – all of whom made spectacular improvements from junior to senior year and were key components on State Championship teams.

On this evening Cole was returning from a sprained ankle and had not run hard for almost two weeks while Josue (this year’s ASB President!) was fighting illness and was a “race time decision” as to whether he would even run. The other four had no such “excuses”.

In many previous iterations of this meet the Rams have run conservatively, but on this day they were instructed to get out and mix it up with front runners.  And they did.
Cole did, in fact, look rusty, and, in a tribute to his immense improvement “only” finished 27th, improving by 30 seconds over last year.  He will be a huge presence on this year’s team.
The other five, in a word, ran spectacularly.  Jameson and Spencer were at the back of the big front pack from the beginning and both closed exceptionally well to finish fourth and eighth in 9:11 and 9:16.  Marcus and Josue were a touch back throughout, but both closed hard as they were 15th and 16th (9:26 & 9:27).  And Sam?  He ran brilliantly.  As the runners entered the track with 500m to go he was ahead of both Josue and Marcus in the top fifteen.  Ultimately he finished 19th in 9:32, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Sam is back – and each member of the team appreciated Sam’s effort and what it’s taken for him to get back to this level.

Prior to the meet Spencer Hardy mentioned that this group of seniors had lost to Sunset at this meet every year in their specific class race – and our boys were intent on changing that.  With Josue and Cole at less than 100% and Joe Halsey absent from this meet, it was still no contest, 46 – 93.

Fourteen runners under 10:00 (without Halsey)… last year there were just seven.  PR after PR after PR... These Rams are typically not at their best in August or September – so this is awfully promising news.

In terms of the overall meet, again there are no team scores, but we, of course, merge all of the races and score it anyway.  Sunset – 79, Franklin – 83, CCHS – 86.  Sherwood was missing one of their “big guns”; with him in the mix they’d have scored about 100 points.  Of course, Jesuit – the pre-season State #1 ranked team (and #16 nationally) – and Summit weren’t there, and they are both very good as well.  It looks to be a wonderfully competitive year here in 6A Oregon Cross Country.

Full results can be found here:
Next up for the Rams is the Ash Creek Invitational next Saturday at Western Oregon University.  We’ll see Franklin and Sherwood again along with Oregon 5A powerhouse Ashland.  Jesuit will be there as well along with #15 nationally ranked Dublin HS from Northern California.  It promises to be a great early season meet. The first HS race is at 9:50am (Girls Novice) with the Varsity Boys toeing the line at 12:15pm.

Hope to see y’all there.