On their home course, The Dalles showed that they can be a dominant entity around the cross country circles.
The Riverhawks claimed first place in the boys’ and girls’ junior varsity and varsity divisions, and Emma Mullins and Zerin Croover each picked up wins in their respective races at the Bridgette Nelson Invitational held at Sorosis Park in The Dalles.
“This was a very good home meet for us,” said TD head coach Bob Thouvenel. “We had 10 personal-bests, nine seasonal-bests and 19 home-course improvements over last year’s Bridgette Nelson meet.
“The kids continue to improve and work hard at practice.”
Mullins, a sophomore, had a time of less than 22 minutes for the third consecutive race, hitting top honors Friday in 21:56.4.
Right behind Mullins was Paige McLeod, who had a 21:59.6, a season-best mark, and the trio of Jenna Miller (22:11.0), Marissa Heemsah (22:54.0) and freshman Tressa Wood (23:08.1) each ended up in the top-12 out of the 59 runners, with each setting personal records.
Molly Nelson was in 13th place with her 23:24.7, and Bailey Nearing wound up 14th overall in a time of 23:31.6, giving TD seven of the best 14 runners, spanning seven other programs.
“The girls continue to make big improvements,” Thouvenel said.
“Tressa Wood has been a big surprise and Paige McLeod is running well. Marissa Heemsah not only had a personal-best, but also improved her time by over two and a half minutes. Again, we need five girls under 22 minutes.”
The Dalles scored 30 points for first place, and Putnam (76), Pendleton (88), Gresham (92), Veritas (119), Griswold (136) and Wapato (156) made up the girls’ varsity standings.
Aspen Cook paced the junior varsity girls’ team with a solid mark of 24:09.5 and senior Amy Requa added a 24:46.6 and Maria Keilman set a season-best of 24:53.8.
Savannah Strassheim (25:48.9) and Yajaira Madrigal (26:23.7) each picked up personal records, and Elizabeth Tapia (26:23.9), Brianna Webber (26:42.9) and Samantha Beall (30:02.6) gave TD 35 points for first place in the four-team junior varsity standings.
Hood River Valley (36), Putnam (68) and Pendleton (100) were the other three finishers.
Of the four levels, the Riverhawk boys’ forged ahead for the largest point differential with 28 points, besting second-place Toppenish (107), third-place Pendleton (116), fourth-place Wapato (132) and fifth-place Gresham (169).
In all, there were 14 teams and 94 runners involved in the varsity race.
Ezekiel Stelzer continued his torrid pace to the regular season with second-place honors, ended up with a final time of 17:25.1, a shade less than 19 seconds behind individual winner, Hayden Scott, of Weston-McEwen (17:06.9).
Luke McLean (17:34), Jony Nelson (17:44), Michael Lantz (18:01), John Miller (18:02) and Ethan Shubert (18:06) gave TD six harriers top-10 status.
Gabe Lira wound up 13th in a time of 18:11.
“Again, Zeke Stelzer was our top varsity boy,” Thouvenel said. “Ethan Shubert had a huge course improvement time from last year, a more than two-minute improvement. We are still looking to put seven guys under 18 minutes with two-to-three guys under 17 minutes.”
TD’s junior varsity team, led by top performer, Zerin Croover (18:45) tallied first place with 29 points, inching ahead of Hood River Valley (42).
Pendleton (92), Gresham (109) and Toppenish (145) rounded out the top-5 junior varsity standings.
Rey Aviluz was right behind Croover with a final mark of 19:11.6 for second place, Chase Snodgrass (19:49.9) was seventh, Cory Cameron (20:06) secured ninth place and freshman Evan Despain was 10th overall after posting a 20:19, a personal record.
Zack Ziegenhagen also had a personal record of 20:30.4 for 12th place, and Noah Holloran (20:32), Quinn Strassheim (20:37), Mark Felderman (20:52.8), David Wring (21:07.1), Leon Linebarger (21:15.8), Zain Hartsook (21:25.8), Chase Nagamatsu (21:36.3), Josiah Andersen (21:43.4 and Blake Keinlen (22:21.4) were in the top-34 out of the 85 junior varsity participants.
Staked to a dominant performance in their only home meet of the season, Thouvenel and his coaching staff are looking forward to continued progression at the Champoeg Invitational, which starts at noon on Saturday in Newberg.
After that running event, the Riverhawk team travels to Heppner for the Mustang Invite that takes place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6.