Oct. 9, 2019 — “I think this is a true cross country course,” said Siuslaw coach Chris Johnson, whose team hosted the annual Woahink Invitational last weekend — a tradition that’s been running for more than 30 years. “There’s a lot of twists and turns, a lot of starting and stopping around sharp corners and there are single-track trails that make is challenging.”
On Saturday, 20 teams from throughout the region and among all divisions were at the East Woahink Day Use area to meet that challenge, including Sky-Em rivals Marist and Elmira.
“It’s always nice to compete at home in front of friends and family on a familiar course — we run here all the time — but we knew Philomath was coming in here ranked pretty high on the boys side, and they didn’t disappoint.”
Philomath, a 4A division school, slipped past the Viking boys by just two points (62), with 6A Wilson also finishing with 62 points but nudging Siuslaw for second place, and the Viks taking third with 65 points.
“We knew we were ranked No. 1 in the state but that we had our work cut out for us,” Johnson said. “It was nice to see what they had to offer and that we were competitive with them.”
Siuslaw senior Brendon Jensen led the Viks with a fifth-place finish in 17:08.6, followed by freshman Samuel Ulrich in eighth place (17:26.5). Seniors Kiger Johnson (17:49.4) and Jared Northrop (17:59.5) were 14th and 15th, respectively, followed by freshman Kyle Hughes in 18:16.2 for 23rd place. Sophomore Chad Hughes rounded out Siuslaw with 24th place in 18:16.5.
Viking junior Jaxson Jensen was 41st in 19:02.8
For the girls, “We just didn’t have enough people in the top 10 to compete with Wilson [High School],” said Johnson, who has a good-natured rivalry with the 6A team’s coach. “They are very deep. Then we had Philomath, another top team.”
But Johnson said he was pleased with the team’s showing, particularly in light of some of its members coming back from injuries and being “a little banged up,” he said.
Gracie Freudenthal, for example, had a knee injury that cost her a couple of workouts leading up to Saturday’s race. Last week, Brea Blankenship was ill and still recovering coming into the race.
“It was the first time we were close to ‘full strength’ in a while,” said Johnson. “Now we need to work on getting Brea and Rylee [Colton] closer to Hannah [Rannow] to keep that spread down and finish closer together.”
Rannow, a senior, placed second overall in 19:43.6. The next to cross the finish for Siuslaw was Colton, a sophomore, in 12th place (20:53.0), followed by Blankenship (21:37.1) in 15th place, Anne Wartnik in 19th place (21:53.3) and Freudenthal in 23rd place with a season-best 22:01.4.
Seniors Chloe Madden (22:15.0) and Bryn Clement (23:54.5) each ran a season-best time, finishing 27th and 46th, respectively.
This weekend, Siuslaw will get a rematch with Philomath at the school’s invitational, where the top five boys teams and top three girls teams will compete.
“I’ve always said this weekend, at the Philomath meet, is when it gets good and we finally start racing in earnest,” said Johnson. “From here on out, we’ll get better and better. But if we’re going to have a championship season, this is when it starts.”
This weekend’s Philomath Paul Mariman Invitational will host the varsity girls race at 2 p.m., followed by the varsity boys at 2:30 p.m.