PORTLAND — The Astoria girls cross country team — which could be competing for a 4A state championship a month from now — finished sixth out of 32 teams Saturday, in the “Nike Portland XC” meet, held at the Portland Meadows Race Track.
The Lady Fishermen missed a trophy finish by three points, with 20 personal bests for the entire Astoria squad. The Astoria boys placed 27th out of 35 teams.
“Overall, (the Astoria girls) had excellent races against fast competition,” said Astoria coach Andrew Fick, as the Lady Fishermen are ranked ninth among Oregon 4A schools.
“Nearly everyone had PR’s today,” he said. “I’m very happy with the improvements on both the boys’ and girls’ teams. The girls are doing an especially good job of running together as a team.
“McKenzie (Burnett) and Sophie (Long) have been doing a great job of getting out fast early on and helping to set a tempo for the rest of the girls.”
With several different races and events, the Astoria girls competed in the Division 3 Varsity event, a 5,000-meter race.
Long had Astoria’s best finish, as the freshman crossed the finish line in 20 minutes, 57.4 seconds, for 22nd out of 239 runners. Burnett was 23rd in 21:01.
Kathy Perez was 66th (22:16), freshman Abigail Groncki took 84th (22:42), and freshman Emma Roe placed 102nd (23:02).
“Kathy and Libbie (Nash) have really been stepping up too,” Fick said. “Libbie ran her fastest 5K ever by about a minute (23:35, 136th). Abi and Emma have also been critical for us in the four and five spots. Their ability to keep in touch with Sophie, McKenzie and Kathy for a good part of the race and finish in the top half is a big reason for our ability to be competitive as a team this year.
“They’re really developing as distance runners, and it’s a lot of fun to see them keep moving up, especially on a big stage like Nike Portland.”
In other highlights, Astoria sophomore McKenna Long placed fourth in the Junior Varsity 3K out of 271 runners, also setting a PR (13:34).
And in the race featuring most of the top runners — the 5,000-meter Danner Championship — former Astoria runner Kaylee Mitchell (now attending Sprague High School) finished 10th in 18:11, out of 142 runners from several different states.
On the boys’ side, Seaside senior Rafi Sibony was ninth individually in the Division 3 race, in 16:49. The Gulls finished 31st as a team.
For Astoria, “Cameron (VanRaden, 18:16) and Nikolai (Boisvert, 18:49) are putting up great freshman marks,” Fick said. “Sometimes in these big meets it’s hard to know where you really stand against such a big field, but I think there are only around 15 freshmen boys in 4A running under 19:00 right now, so that’s a great start.
“We have a lot of positive energy on the boys’ team right now, and I’m excited to see what kind of gains we can accomplish over the next few weeks before districts.”