The Danner Invitational, now referred to as the Pre-National meet, will be held at Portland Meadows on Saturday. The course, of course, will be far different from what will be encountered in December, when Oregon’s more normal weather returns, but it does offer fans a chance to view some top-flight talent. Leading the way is the team from San Lorenzo Valley, which is lead by former Centennial star Rob Collins. Collins brings a formidable squad, whose leading harrier is Foot Locker qualifier Anna Maxwell. The SLV girls are the real deal and, although the rankings for the most part are not believable, this squad is of undoubted quality. Maxwell has won three races this season including the Early Bird race in California. Her three mile time was 17:28. Abby Sherman of SLV is a fine runner in her own right with a third place effort at the Early Bird to her credit. Jordan McPhee of Mt. Rainier is yet another Foot Locker finalist and she won at Fort Steilacoom. Last year Jordyn Colter from Colorado & Sam Mckinnon of Mountain View, Idaho ran big races but Colter ’s Cherry Valley team is not returning and Sam, who was second at Camels Back, will be out due to injury and we hope that she will be able to return for state. Of course one cannot be totally certain, because of Sunfair ’s cancellation. There could be some surprise entries.
Facing her is a host of local talent including defending Oregon 6A champion Paige Rice. Rice won the Wilsonville Invitational this fall and was second at the Northwest Classic. Ella Donaghu leads Grant and should be an individual force as well having won at Wilsonville and the Northwest Classic. Her team mates Parkes Kendrick & Piper Donaghu should also be in the mix. Not be overlooked are the South Eugene duo of Sara Tsai and Erin Clark. They gave Paige a battle at State last year and Sara won the Ultimook Invitational and was second at pier Park, while Erin was second at Ultimook and the Pre-SWC Meet. Their team mate Phacelia Cramer should be close to the front to help in the team race as well. Sheldon will counter with Maggie Schmaedick, the Marist & the Pre-SWC winner, and Gracie Todd, who won her division at the Pre-SWC. Kennedy Allen of David Douglas is only a freshman, like Ella Donaghu, but has shown great promise, which includes a victory at the Mt. Hood Relays plus a Cross-Over at Oregon City. Beaverton adds Erin Gregoire to the mix, who won at Tualatin, while Sunset contributes Charlotte Corliss, who won at Canby. Marykate Mcguire of Dallas has seasonal credentials that include a victory at Seaside and a second at South Salem
Another look at the Washington invaders includes Chandler Olson of Woodinville, who will be one of the top returnees at the Foot Locker West Regional. Chandler won the Kingco Preview & was fourth at Seaside. Alexis Fuller of union has placed second at the Run-A-Ree & was third at South Whidbey. Sehome brings a very strong team, which includes Emily Pittis, who won the Sehome Invitational and topped the Bellingham City Meet. Brenna Peloquin has had some physical issues this fall but, if she returns to the races, she has the ability to make things interesting. Also running is Hazel Carr of the Northwest School in Seattle, who placed second in State in 1A last fall and who came in fourth at Sundodger. Nicole Goecke of Prairie’s credits include a second at Capital and a victory at the Festival of Champions.
Of the guys the one with the most impressive resume for this season is Joe Hardy, who is undefeated after notching victories at Woodland and at Sundodger. Last winner he scored in big meet at Firman with a very 15:03 on the challenging Eagle Island course. Hardy topped Pocatello sophomore Elijah Armstrong, who had an off-day at Firman placing sixth after securing triumphs at the Pocatello City Meet, the Tiger/Grizz and at Rigby. Oregon boasts the services of defending 6A champion of Central Catholic, who placed second at Wilsonville. Central, of course, has a number of young runners, who could be in the mix including Jean Baptiste Tooley and Dante Gasperina. Beaverton’s Dan Oekerman has won at Tualatin and Jackson Packham of Franklin scored at the PIL Preview. Hermiston has a trio of runners, who on any given day can give most anyone fits including Jose Macias, the Hermiston Invitational winner and Alejandro Cisneros, the Hood River Invite champion. Eduardo Juarez was slowed early by health issues but should be back as well.
Gig Harbor has its own vaunted trio with Wolfgang Beck leading the way. The junior won at Bellarmine and was fourth at Sundodger. Sophomore’s Tristan Peloquin, 5th at Sundodger, and Logan Carroll, 6th at Sundodger, are usually found close behind Wolfy. Battle Ground’s Mark Tedder has impressed this fall with victories at the Run-A-Ree and Seaside plus a 4th at the Festival of Champions, while Colby Gilbert of Skyview has won at Trask and finished third at the Run-A-Ree. Shadle Park finds life after Foot Locker National finalist Nathan Weitz in the presence of Nicholas Hauger, who won at Fort Steilacoom & in his first GSL meet. Another to watch is young Aaron Roe of Henry Jackson, who was second at Capital.
California’s top runner would appear to be Emery Caster of Xavier Prep, who placed fourth at Don Bosco and fourth at Dana Hills. Also worth watching is Anthony Mariconda of Junipero Serra. The Serra runner was second at Laguna Hills and third at Woodbridge with 15:55 for three miles.
The course is not the usual parking lot, although it hardly has what can be called a hill, but it is unique enough to allow for some surprises. It is after all cross country and that is why athletes race it – surprises are not all that rare. With the addition of the team issues the meet promises something for ‘most everyone.