Eight runners from The Dalles have been hard at work, logging several hours on the tough Sorosis Park Course with all hearts turned towards advancing to another round of the Junior Olympics.
In order to punch a Nationals ticket, these athletes need to excel at regionals this weekend on the campus of Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
Of that group, Maddie Wood is looking to make another run towards Nationals three weeks from now in San Antonio, TX.
Last year, at Balloon Fiesta Park for the National Junior Olympic Meet in Albuquerque, N.M., Wood finished in 62nd place out of a field of 132 runners at the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Meet, with a final time of 22 minutes and 2.06 seconds.
She will be participating in the 17-18 year old classification, hoping to continue her solid efforts from last week in Monmouth, where she motored for first place in 20:10.9 to beat the field for first place.
Along with Wood, Tai Rogers, who finished in second place at 24:46.5, so she needs to shave a couple of ticks off the watch and finish in the top-30 to make reservations for a trip into the next round.
Emily Morin (20:13.5), Avery Cardosi (21:07.9) and Katie Burns (21:54.2) are in line for successful runs, and so is Molly Nelson, who placed 31st in the 4k run for 13-14 year olds at 18:20.4 and Jenna Miller (12:13.6 in 11-12 division).
Coach Bob Thouvenel has been working with many of these names for quite a while and he sees extreme focus within the ranks.
“The kids are working hard,” Thouvenel said. “Avery Cardosi and Jenna Miller ran personal bests; the others were close, so it was a good meet for our kids, both middle School and high school.”
There were six male harriers committed to racing this past weekend, and Ian Corey had the best time of the bunch with a 20:23.9 for ninth place in the 17-18 class.
Jony Nelson garnered an 18:31.4 for 15th in the 15-16 division, and fellow runners, Andy Felderman (18:49.9, 17th place) and Ethan Shubert (20:24.1, 23rd place) put in fast times of their own to move on to regionals.
“Several runners are pointing towards national qualification,” Thouvenel said.