At this time last year, The Dalles boys cross country team was distraught and emotional after being edged out of state competition by one point.
Those tears of pain turned into tears of joy last Thursday as the boys team captured its first district championship since 1998 with 42 points, besting Crook County (46) and Hood River Valley (47) at the Intermountain Conference Championships held at Sorosis Park.
“This season has been our revenge tour,” TD senior Samuel Alvarez said. “I think that in the last couple of years, everyone has kind of dismissed us and thought of us as not too much of a challenge. People thought of us as a team that only runs well at our mid-meets and stuff. That motivated us to come out and beat everybody. We all came together and made a point to run our best race to beat these teams and show them that last year was a fluke.”
The Riverhawks had four of their top-7 runners finish in the top-10 out of 39, led by freshman Juan Diego Contreras, who placed second after posting a final time of 16 minutes and 42.53 seconds.
Alvarez added a 16:51.44 to score fourth place, Friedrich Stelzer ended up eight with his 17:00.92 and Nick Caracciolo turned in a 17:23.83 to secure 10th place.
Noah Holloran had a mark of 18:28.97 to take 18th place, Evan Despain crossed the finish line in 18:37.51 for 21st place, and Spencer Coburn was right behind in 22nd place after an 18:41.85.
“I feel insanely great,” Contreras said. “I felt like crying before the race even started because I knew that something special was going to happen today. And it did. It felt surreal just the way the team just had that focus. We are all close this season and we are like a family. I felt like we all had the same goal in mind and we were confident that we could do this.”
Girls cross country
With the running efforts of Josephine Dickinson (19:31.19), Lottie Bromham (19:38.37), Frances Dickinson (20:01.89) and Chloe Bullock (20:24.40), Hood River Valley tallied 24 points to win the girls title, ending up ahead of The Dalles (69), Crook County (89), Pendleton (104), Redmond (110) and Ridgeview (129).
Hanna Ziegenhagen had TD’s best outcome of seventh place following her mark of 20:41.14, Fonetia Duyck timed out in 20:50.96 to take ninth place, and Tressa Wood placed 13th with her 21:07.82.
Emily Johnson added a 21:57.92 for 19th place, Caitie Wring forged ahead for a 22:01.65 to earn 21st place, Liz Tapia hit a top time of 22:05.27, and Jenna Miller motored to a 22:45.85, which gave her 27th place in the field of 40 runners.
With Thursday’s runner-up performance, the Lady Riverhawks have punched a state ticket in six of the last seven years.
“During each season, state is always on our mind,” Tapia said. “It makes us want to work harder and it brings us together too because no one wants to be the reason why the team couldn’t go to state or just bring the team down, so we make sure to keep each other happy and uplifted and motivated.”
The boys junior varsity group ended the day in second place with 29, three points behind Hood River Valley (26), with Conor Blair (18:55.0), Austin Agidius (19:01.30), Tate Hattenhauer (19:16.50), Nathan Pyles (19:34.00) and Ivan Rodriguez (19:36.20) all winding up in the top-10.
Paul Kelly was 11th after a final tally of 19:39.90, John Cole (19:45.30) was good for 13th place, Gavin Cates (19:45.60) claimed 14th and Angel Oregon (20:15.90) placed 18th.
Kayden McCavic (20:47.70), Will Evans (20:53.40), Terrin Tibbets (20:57.60), Ricky Rosette (25:09.50), Zane Strassheim (25:24.70) and Eric Kung (26:18.70) made up the final TD finishers.
The junior varsity girls racked up 67 points to end up third overall, and Giselle Ortega paced the squad with a mark of 22:49.72 for 11th place.
Fiona Dunlop (23:46.68), Breanna Bare (24:53.48), Rainie Codding (25:40.89), Shea McAllister (26:00.19), Ashley Quisenberry (26:26.17), Bree Webber (27:01.75), Lindy Taylor (29:31.89) and Keisha Oregon (37:52.42) were the other eight Riverhawk participants.
The 5A state meet is scheduled for Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene, with the girls set to run at 11:45 a.m. and the boys at 2:20 p.m.
Alvarez wants to win a plaque.
Head coach Bob Thouvenel feels that his two groups have lot more left in the tank.
Coming into this race, the boys were ranked fifth or sixth in the state, while the girls were eighth, so the expectations are to improve on that and possibly get into the top 4 or have some individuals make the top-10.
“We are not going there just to be happy and enjoy a little trip,” Thouvenel said. “We are going there to bring some hardware home or to improve on our state ranking. That’s always the goal. We are not just satisfied with what we did today. We expect them to do something great down there.”
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