WARRENTON - The Big Three of Cowapa League cross country converged on Cullaby Lake for a three-way meet Thursday afternoon.

Seaside was the official host for the summit meeting that included Astoria and Scappoose - most likely the top three schools when it comes to cross country in the Cowapa.

Team scoring was kept between the Indians and the Gulls, while Astoria and Scappoose will face each other in a dual meet Oct. 19.

And Scappoose looks mighty tough on both sides, as the Indians swept the top three places in the girls meet, outscoring Seaside 28-41; and Jesse Cronin of Scappoose won the boys race in 17 minutes, 11 seconds - a full minute ahead of Seaside's Joe Gardner (18:11). The Scappoose boys defeated the Gulls 22-34.

First-place in the girls race went to junior Megan Smith (21:27) of Scappoose, who was followed by junior teammate Lisa Huling (21:58) and sophomore Julie Overby (22:19). And the Indians are still running without their top runner, 2003 district champion Connie Beeks, who is nursing a stress fracture in her foot. Beeks said she will return to racing next week.

The top finisher for the Astoria girls was sophomore Maia Donachy, who placed fourth in 23:34. Seaside's Katie Dougherty (23:37) was fifth, and the Gulls' Laura Sibley placed seventh (24:27).

It was obvious that the league team title for the girls is likely headed for the Scappoose trophy case.

"It's more of a race for second right now," said Astoria coach Spence Barker. "We're in a race just to field a team, but if we can get that one final position solidified, we'll be OK.

"This is the first time we could field five runners on the girls' side, and we came in with a fourth-place finish (with Donachy)," Barker said. "Maia had a great race, and we were real happy with that. We're just looking for that fourth and fifth runner to step up."

Astoria junior Katy Choate, who took second in last year's league meet, may be out for the season after sustaining an ankle injury at Steens Mountain over the summer.

The boys championship could be more of an open race. Scappoose runners nailed down four of the top 10 spots in Thursday's meet, while Astoria runners finished third (Jonnie Dunne, 18:13), fourth (John Wilson, 18:15), eighth (Drew Gustafson, 19:14) and 10th (Skyler Butenshon, 19:33).

"I was real happy with a third-place finish," Barker said. "They're running in a tight pack right now, and they're all coming back next year.

"We don't have any seniors, so this is a team that you'll be writing a lot about," he added. "We lost some kids to graduation, but they've managed to pull it together.

"Seaside has also improved so much over the last year, and they're moving up and closing the gap. Thomas Robinson and Joe Gardner are both running very well."

Robinson placed seventh (18:34) in Thursday's meet.

The Fishermen will compete in the Trask Mountain Assault Saturday, while Astoria and Seaside will both take part in a three-way meet at Tillamook Tuesday.


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