|NTN Northwest Team Notes|
North Central WA boys, Rose City OR girls, burst into top-10
North Central -WA boys, Rose City OR girls, proud of top-10 finishes
DyeStat Northwest editor Dave Devine's post-race wrap-up of NW teams at NTN.
Boys - GIrls
North Central XC (North Central WA)
6th place – 220 points
22 Kimpel, Andrew 09 North Central XC 16:42.1
33 Dean, Leon 09 North Central XC 16:55.8
37 Howard, Jeffrey 09 North Central XC 16:58.5
56 Hicks, Steven 08 North Central XC 17:12.3
72 Tyler, Adam 08 North Central XC 17:20.6
82 Avila, Alexander 10 North Central XC 17:25.8
122 Wordell, Andrew 11 North Central XC 17:52.9
North Central XC senior and first-time NTNer Steve Hicks admitted he succumbed to a misstep that has snagged more than one runner over the years at Nike Team Nationals. He glided over the course on the Friday run-through with his teammates, feeling the adrenaline of having Portland Meadows underfoot for the first time, and underestimated how difficult the course would be come time for the actual race.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said as he pulled on sweats over his mud-spattered legs after the race. “I don’t think it was easy for anyone out there. It felt easy yesterday [during the course run-through] and I think I definitely underestimated it. I wasn’t used to having no traction.”
Winners of the Northwest regional race, and projected by some to finish as high as second in the national meet, the North Central squad took sixth in an effort that was by their own admission, solid but not spectacular. Unbeknownst to many outside the team, junior leader Andy Kimpel had battled illness after a regional race where he soared to a second place finish.
“He was very sick the whole week after the regional race,” assistant coach Len Long confirmed. “He did well to finish as high as he did.”
Kimpel still led the club with his 16:42 22nd place finish, and the team exhibited the close spread (38 seconds on Saturday) that had marked them as a squad to watch, but the cluster was too far back in the championship-level field to take down the likes of Naperville IL, with their single-digit scoring start.
NC third man Jeff Howard, victim of a tumble at the regional meet that nearly ended his team’s NTN hopes, made sure he didn’t encounter similar traffic at Portland Meadows.
“I got out fast, because I didn’t want to get caught up in the mess of people. I was running as our number one for a while and then Andy caught me. He said, ‘Let’s go,’ and I said, ‘I’ll be right behind you, do what you need to do.’ Then Leon [Dean] came up to me as I was starting to float a little and we finished together.”
Returning five of their top seven, including their current top three, this is a team that has every reason to believe it can return to Portland in 2008.
Even Hicks, who won’t be among those with a chance to return, seemed to point toward the possibility of another shot at NTN for his remaining teammates. “For our first year here, I think we did well. It’s a good start.”
Greater Portland XC (Central Catholic OR)
13th place – 312 points
32 Morgan, Taylor 08 Greater Portland 16:55.6
53 Turina, Thomas 09 Greater Portland 17:11.4
61 Curran, Carlile 10 Greater Portland 17:15.4
76 Ahmed, Musa 10 Greater Portland 17:23.0
90 Jones, Austin 08 Greater Portland 17:30.3
95 Turkheimer, Joel 08 Greater Portland 17:35.0
104 Slauson, Peter 10 Greater Portland 17:45.3
If there was a revelation for the members of the 13th-place Greater Portland XC club, it was in the performance of sophomore Curran Carlile. The team's #7 man as recently as the NTN Northwest Regional race, Carlile shadowed normal number two Samot Turina for the entire race on Saturday, slogging through the mud in Turina’s sodden footsteps to emerge as the third man for a team that very much needed his breakthrough performance. Coach Dave Frank, for one, saw it coming.
“I told these guys earlier in the week, he’s going to score for us this week. He’s good in these conditions, when the footing’s bad. He likes it.”
With the footing terrible in many places, and the temperatures worse, Carlile’s gutsy run exemplified the approach the entire team had hoped to bring to the race.
“We wanted to go out tough,” assistant coach John Miller said at the team tent after the race, “but a lot of them said it was hard out there with the cold and the conditions. They were all ready to race, but Curran did really well for us.”
Reliable frontman Taylor Morgan had a solid day as well, using his strong turnover in the closing kilometer to kick down multiple rival runners. “About 800 meters into the race, I decided I had to relax a little bit...but then I realized maybe I was relaxing too much. When I hit the 4k I thought, ‘One k to go, I have to start passing people.’ ” Although Saturday’s effort represents the senior’s last high school cross country race, he wasn’t overly philosophical about it afterwards. “I wish it had gone a little better, but I’m happy with it.”
Mostly he reserved his enthusiasm for Carlile’s impressive move from seventh man to third. “Samot came up to me in the chute afterwards and said he heard Curran was right behind him. I was surprised, but it was all a matter of time before he had that kind of race, because he’s been training really well. He’s got a great future ahead.”
Rose City XC (St. Mary’s Academy OR)
10th place – 295 points
31 Whipps, Lucy 10 Rose City XC Club 20:05.6
35 Jones, Alexandra 09 Rose City XC Club 20:11.4
51 Kearns, Alexa 10 Rose City XC Club 20:31.4
75 Ffitch, Taylor 08 Rose City XC Club 20:49.1
103 Olson, Jen 10 Rose City XC Club 21:18.3
119 Bergmann, Erin 11 Rose City XC Club 21:47.5
144 Higgins, Tara 08 Rose City XC Club 22:41.7
Heading into Saturday’s race, the girls of Rose City XC had two distinct goals: finish higher in the race than their #15 national ranking, and confirm that their NW Regional win was no fluke by finishing as the highest team from the Northwest in the race.
They accomplished both goals with a tenth-place effort that had the girls and their coaches high-fiving and celebrating when the top ten teams were announced.
“Our goal was to shoot for the top ten,” Coach Mike Bojorquez said after the race. “To be in the top ten? For us, that would be a great accomplishment.”
When Bojorquez checked his Nike-issued handheld Palm Pilot, with its automatic scoring updates, the team was running tenth at the four kilometer checkpoint, but he had to wait nearly an hour for confirmation that they’d held onto that spot. Based on the way his team runs, he had a suspicion they hadn’t yielded any ground.
“We try to get out fast, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. But we get stronger and stronger as the meet progresses, and I think the last two-thousand meters is when we run our best.”
Just as she had at the regional race, sophomore Lucy Whipps led the Rose City crew with her 20:05.6, 31st place finish, followed closely by junior Alexandra Jones in 35th (20:11.4). Whipps confirmed the team’s excitement at placing in the top ten.
“We wanted to finish above where we were ranked. And as the top team in the region.”
The smiles of her teammates meant it was understood that accomplishing the second goal also meant defeating a Portland XC (Jesuit OR) team which had beaten them handily at the Oregon 6A state meet, but which Rose City had now toppled twice in post-season races.
Still, freshman Erin Bergmann said the team was gunning for every point they could get, and not necessarily marking off any particular team in the race. If anything, they were trying to find one another in the tightly-packed field. Their bright orange and sky blue singlets helped.
“That’s why we chose such bright colors for our uniforms,” Bergmann said, “so we could find each other.”
For a team that relies on the strength of their pack, it certainly helped.
Portland XC (Jesuit OR)
12th place – 304 points
17 Mc Guirk, Elizabeth 08 Portland XC Club 19:45.3
44 Van Rysselberghe, Noel 09 Portland XC Club 20:28.1
76 Mahoney, Shannon 11 Portland XC Club 20:53.1
82 Schutte, Payton 11 Portland XC Club 20:57.4
85 Hagler, Claire 09 Portland XC Club 20:59.8
138 Murphy, Elizabeth 08 Portland XC Club 22:24.8
143 Salazar, Maria 09 Portland XC Club 22:36.7
Of all the runners competing at Nike Team Nationals from schools in the Northwest, Portland XC senior Adrienne McGuirk had the best finish. Her seventeenth place, 19:45.3 run led her club to a 12th place finish in the team standings. Expected to be a top-20 finisher, McGuirk delivered, getting out early and ceding little ground as the race progressed.
“I got out how I wanted to,” she said in the team tent after the race, “and basically stayed in that place the whole time. The goal was to get out in the top fifteen or twenty and stay there. I would have liked to have picked a few more people off at the end, but I got the one girl I was running with, so I felt good about that.”
She and her teammates had prepped for the soggy conditions by running intervals on the inundated fields behind their high school.
“I felt strong," she said. "We were definitely prepared for the mud.”
Despite that preparation, Coach Tom Rothenberger allowed, the mud can play havoc with established team tactics.
“It’s difficult to find each other when it’s a tightly bunched competitive race. Or you might be able to see somebody, but ten yards in the mud is a lot harder to make up than it is in an open field.”
That congestion and difficult footing was at least partly to blame for the gap between McGuirk and her normal running mate, Noelle Van Rysselberghe.
“I was hoping she’d be up there,” McGuirk said, “but I didn’t see her. I could hear people cheering for her behind me though.”
Like their Rose City rivals, Portland came into the race with the stated goal of improving on their ranking in the national polls.
“That’s always the goal,” Coach Rothenberger said before the final scores were announced. “Of course, our goal is to be in the top ten, but we come in ranked 16th, so anything above 16th is a success.”
With their 12th place finish (beating Hunterdon NJ on a sixth-man tie-breaker), and sitting only three points from 11th and nine points off 10th, they more than met that goal.
NTN Finals index