27th Nike/Jim Danner Invitational

Saturday -- October 7th -- 2006

Blue Lake Park Regional Park
Gresham (Portland), OR

Presented by Aloha High School



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Some of the best teams in the West will descend upon Gresham, Oregon’s Blue Lake Park this Saturday for the 27th running of the Nike/Jim Danner Invitational.  In the most anticipated races, six regionally-ranked boys teams and seven regionally-ranked girls teams will meet in the newly-created “Northwest Championship” divisions, many going head-to-head for the first time, with all kinds of NTN implications. 

The meet has a little bit of everything, from compelling individual match-ups to interstate team rivalries, from previously-beaten squads with something to prove to undefeated line-ups looking to extend the ride.  Teams like the NW#4 Central Catholic boys, slightly banged up all season, hoping to finally put the pieces together and all the talent on the starting line.  Teams like NW#7 Boise girls, looking to repeat the magic from a year ago, when they came in ranked NW#10 and took down NW#2 Jesuit and NW#3 Snohomish.  Teams like NW#1 Jesuit girls, hoping to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

There are the boys from NW#1 Joel Ferris, fresh off defeating the top-ranked team in the nation, and the girls from unranked Snohomish, newly emboldened after a narrow win in over NW#2 Gig Harbor in the flighted races at Sunfair.  And of course there’s the pride of Alaska—the Kodiak boys and the West Valley girls—hot off their recent state meet triumphs and journeying south to ensure they’re not forgotten come December, long after their seasons have ended and winter has set in up north. 

Boys Individuals

People still talk about last year’s scintillating finish between Isaac Stoutenburgh (Crater OR), Kenny Klotz (Central Catholic OR) and Jeff Helmer (Jackson WA).  Stoutenburgh won that battle by a mere .29 seconds over Klotz. Then Klotz went on to win the individual title at Nike Team Nationals and all three were Foot Locker finalists.  They’re graduated now, but a young man who finished sixth in that race—thirty-two seconds back—figures to be a little closer this time around.  Seattle Prep’s Max O’Donoghue-McDonald, who laid down an eye-popping 14:47 for second at Stanford last weekend, has to be considered one of the favorites here.  If he’s the Washington standout—as Helmer was last year—then there could be a serious case of déjà vu at the finish line.  The successor to Klotz at Central Catholic, Taylor Morgan, is a formidable runner with 1:52 closing speed, and Jake Keyser at Crater (8th last year, 6 seconds off O’Donoghue-McDonald) has risen in Stoutenburgh’s wake and is fresh off a 20-second win at the Puma Classic in Bend last weekend.  David Hickerson is Ferris’ top gun, and will surely be in the mix, along with dynamic duos Sawyer Bosch and Sean Huey of Borah and Sean Coyle and Tylor Thatcher of Central Valley.  Michael Chinchar of Kentwood WA is having a great season and Boise’s Nick Bolinder will be looking to bounce back after fading at Bob Firman.  Hoping to go the distance after traveling a great distance to toe the line will be Watertown WI’s Adam Perkins and Kodiak stud (and new Alaska state champ) Trevor Dunbar.

Boys Teams

Ferris WA, of course, is the favorite here, but the field is loaded with dangerous teams.  Borah ID opened some eyes at Bob Firman, running close to CA’s Trabuco Hills and knocking off Central Catholic OR.  The hometown Rams will be looking for some payback, and Jesuit OR and Seattle Prep WA will be looking to show that they’re stronger than their 11th and 12th place finishes at Stanford may indicate.  Central Valley might be a sleeper pick, if they hadn’t so thoroughly impressed at Sunfair, winning 4 of 7 individual flight races.  And there’s no way Kodiak AK is traveling to Portland to check out Powell’s Bookstore and Multnomah Falls—they’re in here to show they belong among the top teams in the region.

Girls Individuals

If the boy’s Division I race was a barn-burner last year, the girl’s was a walkover.  Mt. Spokane’s Megan O’Reilly dispatched a talented field by nearly a minute, running 17:12 and prophesying a year that would include jaw-dropping performances indoors and out.  This year figures to be a bit closer, with talented frontrunners on each of the ranked squads providing intriguing possibilities.  Squalicum’s Bronwyn Crossman just won the Mt. Baker Invitational in a sizzling 17:39.  Traveling up from California are the Murakamis of Saugus High: Shannon, 4th in 16:51, and Amber, 6th in 17:06, at the lightning-fast Woodbridge Invite.  West Valley’s Crystal Pitney would seem to be the contender-pick from that team, but she finished 5th at state, behind teammates Samantha Davis and Maggie Callahan.  Given that team’s 22-second 1-5 spread, any one of them could be in the running.  Jesuit has a strong pair in Adrienne McGuirk and Noelle VanRysselberghe, both under 19 at Stanford last weekend, and Mt. Spokane has two strong runners in Courtney Zalud and Jessica Klier.  Thomas Jefferson is led by Kenna Patrick and Boise features the revolving quartet of Sarah Olsen, Anne Lovelace, Jacque Sahlberg and Rebekah McGourty, all of whom can run at the front.

Girls Team

If they travel well, Saugus CA, ranked #3 in a stacked state, has to be considered the favorite.  NW#1 Jesuit of Oregon is formidable, but they finished behind four California teams ranked below Saugus at the Stanford Invite.  Current NW#5 West Valley AK isn’t sneaking up on anyone—not after they appeared at Nike Team Nationals last year—but they have yet to face an opponent outside Alaska this season and are coming off the emotional high of a redemption win at states.  Still, teams underestimate them at their own peril.  Certainly NW#7 Boise has a better race up their sleeve than they showed at Firman, and has a history of running big here.  Snohomish is unranked, but comes in with confidence after a strong showing at Sunfair.  NW#8 Squalicum should be at full strength after competing down a runner in their last meet, and NW#10 Thomas Jefferson could be a darkhorse, finally showing what they’ve got after a series of split-squad and small meet victories.

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