A wet course greeted the Oregon & Washington runners, who participated in the 14th Oregon – Washington Border Clash. The individual girls’ race was no real surprise, as Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak, Katie Knight of North Central & Alexa Efraimson of Camas separated themselves very early and stormed into an overwhelming lead early. They had only been running for a little over a minute and a half, yet the race for everyone else essentially was for third.
They crossed the first bridge at 2:50 with Neale holding slight lead, while Knight was slightly behind in third. It is fortunate that there was a video relay, because the announcers, as usual, kept speaking about extraneous issues & in point of fact they babbled for six minutes and only announced the mile split (5:36) a minute after it had been traversed. There was still a large break before the fourth runner appeared but finally they included Oregon harriers and after seven minutes Oregon runners held fourth through sixth place.
During the course of the ensuing few minutes the leaders switched the lead a number of times and it did not appear that anyone held the upper hand. Neale stepped upped the pace at around the eleven minute but Efraimson soon fought back. Katie fell behind briefly but then quickly regrouped and moved into the lead. It was still obviously anyone’s race but that would change, when Neale moved back into the lead at the thirteen minute mark.
The final portion of the race, which included a slight hill, saw Neale seize the lead and, although Efraimson responded, it was Amy-Eloise assuming control. Katie, probably still not fully over her past problem with mono, grudgingly yielded the ground. In the end Neale strode to victory in a new record time of 15:33 and Efraimson (15:34) followed shortly later. Knight (15:44) finished third, also under the former record. Maggie Schmaedick (15:50) of Sheldon, and Sara Tsai (15:50) & Erin Clark (15:59) of South Eugene made things interesting for Oregon by sweeping fourth through sixth but then Katie Bianchini of Glacier Peak followed with a seventh effort of 16:09.
Ella Donaghu (16:15) of Grant and her team mate Parkes Kendrick (16:16) kept things close for Oregon with their respective 8th & 9th place efforts but then Jordan McPhee (16:31) of Mt. Rainier, Chandler Olson (16:31) and Brittany Aquino (16:37) put the icing on the cake for Washington. West Salem freshman Brooke Chuhlantseff came in 13th.
Prior to the weekend Colby Gilbert referred to the Oregon – Washington series as “Border Smash”, and, although a bit indelicate, it was certainly accurate especially in the boys’ event. The runners had barely raced more than a minute and the top six runners were already displaying Washington uniforms. Of course they had already made it through the famed merge after racing towards each other from the opposite sides of the soccer & at least this year no one was spiked – we hope – so it was a moral victory at least.
Of course the depiction of the race was of minor concern once but thank God for a stopwatch, which at least allowed some perspective. A glance showed there was only one runner in the top eight, however. By the 3:16 mark that mark had fallen to only one runner in the top eleven but there were three runners in the top eleven at least. Oregon did have two runners move up during the next minute of racing but things were already getting out of hand for Oregon, which brought to mind one runner’s pre-race statement that Huskies & Cougars will defeat Ducks & Beavers.
The early leaders were finally identifiable a minute later and Joe hardy of Seattle Prep could be seen on the point with Patrick Gibson of Squalicum and Sumner Goodwin of Lewis & Clark leading the charge. It also appeared that Colby Gilbert of Skyview, who had held back early in the Washington 4A meet before placing third, was also a part of the pack. Once again the male was passed without comment & we had to wait until later to learn that it was a rather pedestrian 5:05. Accordingly a fair number of runners remained in contention but the next minute of running left only five or six runners reasonably near the leaders.
They went up the slight grade at the 7:20 mark, which apparently took its toll, as only four runners remained an eight minute mark of the race. Notably two runners from Oregon had stealthily moved into fifth & sixth position, which caused a bit of a stir among fans. The Seattle Prep junior seemed to be the one, who usually determined the pace but Gibson, Sumner & Gilbert were still in good position. Then again with the two mile mark only being reached in 10:18 one had to assume that everyone still held plenty in reserve.
Yet another bridge loomed around the eleven minute mark and then by 11:30 the lead pack had been reduced to just three runners, while a lone fourth runner loped along another 15 meters behind them. The three leaders entered the soccer field together and as they made they second last turn it appeared, as if Gibson was talking to his team mates. Once they negotiated the last turn the expected final surge down the stretch and Gibson eased his way to victory and after the race stated his Washington compatriots had backed off the pace. His time was surprising, given the beginning pace, but his time of 13:44 broke the course record for the 4387 meter distance. Joe hardy and John Dressel were each credited with 13:45 with Hardy being allotted second. Sumner Goodwin finished a second later & Colby Gilbert earned fifth in 13:51. Nick Obletz of Oregon Episcopal led his state and was followed by Beaverton’s Dan Oekerman, who edged Washingtonian Stephen Bottoms with 13:56. Alejandro Cisneros of Hermiston came in ninth with 13:57 and Conner Johnson‘s 13:58 added a tenth place finish for Washington. Two-time Oregon 5A champion Travis Neuman of Summit earned eleventh with 14:01 nipping mark Tedder of Battle Ground.
It seemed to rain harder as time went on but it did not appear to diminish the spirits of the participants. It marked the twelfth team victory in the fourteen year history of this event, which is not as original as some seem to believe. Tuesday’s Northwest Review will include a look at the 26th Mid-East Race of Champions, which this year pitted teams from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, It is a rather lop-sided competition of late & it should be noted that Oregon has not come close since the policy makers moved to six division for the smaller state and neither Andrew Gardner, who is concentrating on Foot Locker, nor Wolfgang Beck, who is ill participated, who was ill.