Historically a very competitive school when it comes to distance running, the Seaside cross-country program has fallen off the pace a bit, so to speak, over the last couple of years.

Athletes competing in two sports and some key graduations have been hard to overcome, along with some normally very competitive teams in the Cowapa League.

The result? A pair of last-place team finishes in last year's district meet.

It wasn't that long ago that the Seaside boys were on top of the world — or at least the Oregon Class 4A part of it. The Gulls won the state championship in 2015, then took second behind league rival Valley Catholic in 2016.

The boys dropped to fourth in the Cowapa League meet in 2017, the same season the Lady Gulls were unable to field a complete team in the district meet.

Heading into the current season, the Seaside boys are still “a little light on numbers,” said Frank Januik, now in his second year as the Gulls' coach. “We need to recruit a few more. The top boy is Luis Moreno. He has trained hard all summer and is ready for a great season.”

Moreno's top time in the 5,000 meters last year was 18 minutes, 4.6 seconds, good enough for an eighth-place finish (out of 35 runners) at the district meet in Hillsboro.

Seaside's next highest placers at districts were Sam Henderson (27th) and Geo Ortega (28th), both lost to graduation. Sophomores Francisco Rojas and Cameron Lippert placed back to back, 30th and 31st.

Meanwhile, the Lady Gulls are looking to bounce back with more numbers and experience.

“The girls' team looks good,” Januik said. “We will battle at the district meet. The top three girls are back from last year: Elise Seppa, Tara Lair and Brooke Blankenhorn.”

As freshmen last season, Seppa and Lair finished 15th and 16th in the district meet, out of 30 runners. Blankenhorn, now a junior, was 21st.

“My goals are to push myself a little bit harder than last year, and get a higher place in meets,” Lair said. “Last year I was getting tired and wasn't pushing myself as much, so I want to push myself as hard as I can this year.

“Last year I was finishing races around 24 or 25 (minutes), and now I want to get in the low 20s.”

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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