Drummers beating out their runners’ rhythms, bagpipes adding their charms on a pleasant autumn day and, although it is only mid-October, there were two current State champions entered. With that type of environment in Portland’s Fernhill Park, it had to be the Concordia Adidas Classic. With 80 teams on hand and runners participating from Alaska, California & Washington, as well as many of the best from Oregon the Concordia race has arguably become the top race in Oregon. Certainly the field in the Elite races alone were far superior to what any division will have at State in Oregon. There was a championship feeling on Saturday, especially after hearing that South Eugene would finally be able to race with their full compliment with the return of Genevieve Brandt. South Eugene has hopes of finally derailing the Jesuit Crusader express, which annually steamrolls its way to the 6A girls’ championship, but the task on this day was even greater, for they would take on Summit, which is arguably the top team in the Northwest.
The runners got off well as they ran their usual diameter portion of the race, which goes from one side of the park and then back before making the turn towards the hill. Peggy Mathes of Wasilla, who had placed eleventh in her State meet & second at Seward, led the way early and began the grade up the hill at the 3:03 mark in the race. The chase pack followed her about seven meters behind but the real racing was yet to begin, as this would not be like last year, when Priscilla Timmons challenged anyone to stay with her and ruled the day.
Mathis led for the entire first loop, which included a bit on the track but by the time. She began the second loop of the course and ran along the street just below the track but was now only the titular, because a sizable group had moved into contention. Running to Peggy’s left was Sara Tsai of South Eugene, while her team mate was just behind and off the other shoulder. Megan Fristoe of Summit was up front but more to the right and Shannon Susbauer of Milwaukie was running up front too. Still it was a large pack, which left more than a fair number of runners able to respond to any move. Recognizable in that group were Claire DeVoe of Lincoln, Gracie Todd of Sheldon, Ashley Maton & Piper McDonald of Summit, Jenna Mattox of Bend, Kelly O’Neill of Lakeridge and Sarah Medved of Westview. Those were just the runners we were able to discern but the chase pack included at least five others, who unfortunately can not be credited.
They had already reached the mile point at that point and their running time was 5:58, when they had turned the first corner. It was at this point that the real racing would begin and Sara Tsai, who had not gotten off to a good early start, joined her team mate at the front and they began to push the pace. The move caused the pack to disintegrate and only Megan Fristoe was able to go with them. Megan remained with them during the first half of that second loop but by the time, Tsai & Clark had returned to the area below the track, they had opened up a solid gap of 20-30 meters. Still there remained almost a full loop to go and with the crowd cheering her on, she began to reel the leaders back.
pic by Angela Collins
Both Clark and Tsai had been working together for the first two-thirds of the race but now it would become an individual dual in which the freshman began to edge slowly ahead. Clark worked to stay with her even as Megan Fristoe was closing the gap. Sara claimed first with a time of 17:41 and established a new course record. Megan Fristoe somehow caught Erin Clark during the final loop and made the turn to head for the track with a slight lead over her South Eugene rival, but Clark put in a formidable kick to edge past Megan before the wire. Still their times of 17:43 & 17:44 both were under the recognized record of 17:48 established by Casey Masterson, who now runs for Oregon State & has held OSU records: not bad company. It should be noted that in 2006 Casey actually finished second in the race behind Leah Francis of Juneau-Douglas, who zipped home in 17:42.3. Of course no matter how one looks at it, Sara is number one on the all-time list but in fairness to Ms. Francis, Erin & Megan rank third & fourth.
Not to be overlooked was the battle of noteworthy freshman, who battle just a bit further back. That battle was won by Gracie Todd of Sheldon , who was more than happy to have established a new PR on Saturday. Piper McDonald of Summit added a fifth place finish for the team by clocking 18:10, as she established a new PR and Alexis Fuller of Evergreen earned sixth with 18:12 in yet another PR. Kelly O’ Neill, who had placed tenth at State in 6A last year, also ran her best time ever by coming home in 18:13. Megan Edic of Lathrop, the current Alaskan large-school champion, garnered ninth with 18:23, as she too had a personal best. Claire DeVoe of Lincoln followed in ninth with 18:27, which saw her finish two seconds ahead of Morgan Anderson of Silverton, who knocked another ten seconds off her top mark.
Ashley Maton of Summit waged a long duel with Jenette Northey of Service and both raced down the track to the finish line. Maton provided a valuable finish for the Storm with her 11th place finish in 18:32, while Northey placed 12th with another version of that time. Jenette is only a junior and hopefully will be back for another run here. Lauren Morgan of South Medford secured 13th with 18:37 Maggie Schmaedick of Sheldon took 14th (18:42). In spite of her rapid start Peggy Mathes finished 15th in 18:43 and Brooke Lizotte of Lathrop made it four Alaskans in the top sixteen, which is impressive given that it is two weeks after their State meet. Jenna Mattox placed 17th in 18:46 and Siuslaw’s Katy Potter came in 18th with the same time. Summit’s Sara Fristoe contributed a 19th place effort with 18:48 and Audrey Michaelson of Colony (Alaska) earned 20th with 18:52. Kira Kelly of Summit was the all-important fifth runner for Summit and her 21st place finish for the team locked up victory for Summit over South Eugene for the mythical State title and strong reference for the national rankings. Summit also had fine 6th & 7th runner placement from Tess Nelson (36 – 19:32) & Keelin Moehl (49 – 19:44). South Eugene for whom Paige Kouba placed 27th with 19:19, finisher with 99 points and second place over South Medford, who had 123 points. Wasilla had 170 to take fourth over Sheldon’s 217. Looking ahead to State South Eugene has to be encouraged with Genevieve Brandt’s time of 19:59 given it is her first race of the year and with little training base after being out so long.
We had noted in our preview that Summit’s Travis Neuman of Summit has been on a tear the past few weeks and Saturday’s race proved no different. Although one runner from Crater screamed off the line like a banshee, he was soon swallowed by the pack. Travis then led the way through the first loop and only three runners chose to stay with him. As usual one of them was his team mate Eric Aldritt. The defending 4A State champion Zorg Loustalet, who had to make up for lost ground at the start, because his team had been shunted to the side, was one of the trio of challengers as was Jackson Baker of Franklin. Jackson has had a fine season yet was not at full-strength on Saturday but is always willing to give the best of his talents on any day.
The quartet quickly left the rest of the field in their rear-view mirrors, which was somewhat surprising, as this was a fine field. The Alaskan contingent alone was formidable with their State champion Kuba Grzeda in the field along with second place finisher Max Romey of Service, second at State, Cole Chritiansen of Kodiak (4th at State) and Andrey Ionashku (2nd at State in the small-school division) all on hand along with Peter Noon and others. The Alaskan’s had a rather rugged trip with at least two of the West Valley guys going down on the hill plus one Service runner falling on the final turn. Romey summed the day up by noting: “I would much rather in Alaska with moose & bear rather than the aggressive runners here.” He added it was “harsh” with the pushing and shoving, yet they all had a good time.
That said it is hard to argue that those racing were anything but serious and Neuman led the group to a sub-five minute mile. The actual time is difficult to say, as I was stationed a bit after the mark and no one, who we spoke to in either Elite race, could hear their time given the drummers. They soon raced over the track at around the 6:12 mark and finished their first loop with Neuman edging ahead by the team he ran below the track and headed for the hill for the second time. That second circuit of the course would see Travis steadily draw away from his challengers. He would open a gap of a good forty meters leaving the trio of challengers to vie for second. That trio now included Loustalet & Baker plus Ryan Byrd of St. Helens, who had moved from behind to get into the race. Eric Aldritt had fallen back and trailed the trio for a time.
The final lap of the perimeter would see the gap close just a bit but Travis finished with a time of 15:16 to easily seal the deal. His mark would be the fifth fastest time in the history of the race. Zorg Loustalet came home second in 15:36 to edge Eric Aldritt by a second. Eric Aldritt made a late run after regrouping to claim third in 15:37 but Jackson Baker & Ryan Byrd fought down the final stretch with the Franklin star getting the edge with a time of 15:38.
Sean Eustis of Washougal secured sixth and was the first runner from Washington to cross the finish line. His time of 15:40 edged Paul Adams of Mazama, who was credited with the same time. Matthew Campbell of Siuslaw placed 8th with 15:42 and Eduardo Juarez of Hermiston ran 15:42, which was good for 9th. Siuslaw’s Mitchell Butler was credited with ten in the same time and Jonathan Cornish of North Valley rounded out the top eleven. Akiharu Kitigawa of Wilsonville earned 12th & Isaac Stinchfield of Washougal ran 15:50 for 13th. South Eugene’s Jack Wilson & Brian Einstad garnered 14th & 15th to lead the Axemen to the boys’ team title, while Aaron Row of Henry Jackson became the first freshman to finish, as he was clocked in 15:56, which was good for 16th.
Juve Guzman of Woodburn ran 15:57 topping Zach Holloway of Central Linn by a second. Max Romey of Service took 20th with a PR 15:58. Mubark Mebrat of Lakeridge rounded out the top twenty with his time of 15:59. South Eugene, as noted, won the team battle with Joe Holvey placing 19th among team scorers. Summit was right behind with their total of 146 and Henry Jackson took third with 161 points. Tiny Siuslaw ran big to place fourth with 194 points and Hermiston followed with 211 points & fifth place.
photo by Angela Collins
Kelsey Hilsenteger of Putnam dueled Marykate McGuire of Dallas before pulling away late in the race to secure victory. Her time of 18:51 gave her a seven second margin at race’s end. Sarah Bennion of St. Mary’s made a late charge on the track to nip Taryn Rawlings of Wilsonville at the line. Both girls were credited with times of 19:16. Sabrina Sears of Evergreen in Vancouver claimed fifth with 19:21 and Abby Knight of Heritage came in sixth with 19:39. Jennings Ramirez & Carina Perezchica of McFarland (California) placed 7th & 8th respectively to lead their team to a divisional title. Olivia Moehl and Hadley Schoederbek of Summit led the “B” team with 9th and 10th place finishes, as the girls from Bend took second with 117 points behind McFarland’s total of 51. Klamath Union (147), Ashland (166) and Dallas (192) placed third through fifth.
Erik Garcia of McFarland rolled to victory in the guys’ invitational with his time of 15:43 and Colby Gilbert of Skyview ran home by himself in second with a mark of 15:51. Seaside’s Brett Willyard claimed third with 16:11 and McFarland’s Jose Monrreal pretty much sealed his team’s victory with his fourth place time of 16:15. Alek Angeli of Klamath Union earned fifth with 16:21. As suggested, McFarland won again but this time with a very low total of 38 points, making the trip well worth the effort. Phoenix took second with 190 points to top Wilson’s 217. LaSalle, led by Logan Veasy’s 16:39 & 14th place, finished fourth with 224 points and Jack Pearce, who finished seventh (16:27), showed the way for Mountain Terrace, which edged Glencoe on the sixth man tie-breaker after both teams finished with 258 points.
It was another grand day at Concordia with many runners finishing with strong times. Happily the weather was cool but hardly cold and the rain, which had been threatening, held off all afternoon. There was a slight breeze, which did not seem to bother the runners & some said it was even nice. Fans had the opportunity to watch the race on a large screen with action covered by Flotrack and there was music, which led to impromptu dancing afterwards. Adidas offered merchandise as additional prizes, which gave way to the nicest aspect of the event. When the young runners were told improperly, that they had won a prize, they were quick to correct the announcer. To a person that was the case & it was quite reassuring to see such integrity to go with youthful enthusiasm. There was more on display on Saturday than great running.