Trojan cross country team gaining focus after second meet

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge High’s varsity boys’ cross country team got off to a good start at Saturday’s Sierra Invitational, but couldn’t turn it into an equally strong finish.

The Trojans placed seventh out of the 13-team race with Aidan Campbell leading the way, finishing the 3-mile race in 19 minutes, 19.12 seconds. Sohan Kancherla was right on Campbell’s heels, as he finished in 19:22.09, while Nick Pleshakov ran eight seconds behind Kancherla in 19:30.56.

Colin Kong (20:08.48) and Dylan Goebel (20:30.90) also scored for the team.

“The fast pace at the beginning of this race proved to be a little too much to handle for our guys at this point in the season,” Oak Ridge coach Bob Wright said. “Most of our runners went out at the leader’s pace and while we like the assertiveness and optimism to get out and run fast, they unfortunately paid the price on the back side of this hilly course.  Finishing mid-pack as a team, all was not lost, as all of our runners came in the top 50 percent of the race. Another take away was that this was a very good learning experience in pacing and an understanding of fitness levels at this point in the season. We are expecting the boys to rebound, as we have several more opportunities for improvement as the season goes on.”

While the Trojans did not field a varsity girls’ team, they did have two girls compete in the junior varsity girls’ race. Hannah Conover won the race in 22:39.47, while Courtney Heller placed fourth in 25:59.70.

“Hannah won by over two minutes, running away with the lead after the first mile,” Wright said. “Her race was well-executed for her first three-mile effort of the season.”

On the boys’ side, Connor Gill and Nolen Berringer placed fifth and sixth, respectively, as Gill posted a time of 20:34.55 with Berringer finishing in 21:09.48. Ryan Sylvester also earned a medal by placing ninth in 21:36.49. Isaac Koehn (21:48.32), Cameron Hughes (24:10.31) and Tristan Johnson (27:26.77) rounded out the team.

“The boys put three runners in the top-10 and placed second, missing first place by four points,” Wright said. “So close, but a good effort nonetheless by the team.”

The Oak Ridge freshman-sophomore girls’ team placed second to the new arrival in the Sierra Foothill League, Whitney. Abby Fletcher (13:04.77), Ava Maier (13:11.30) and Tiana Oliver (13:54.81) placed second through fourth in the two-mile race with Fletcher missing out on first by two-tenths of a second. Dylan Wright (15:09.27) and Aylin Askin (15:16.50) rounded out the scoring runners with Annabelle Brown (17:24.57) and Ayden Subjeck (17:53.04) also running.

“Whitney will be some good competition for our league meets,” Wright said.

For the boys, Oak Ridge ended up in fourth place even without two of its normal top-five runners. Brian Lew led the team with a fifth-place finish in 12:05.01. Nathan Conover also placed in the top-10, running ninth in 12:11.43. Drew Gladwell (12:29.56), Grant Geeting (12:32.81) and Will Bricca (12:37.08) rounded out the scorers.

Also running on the team were Ethan Lepore (13:03.00), Evan Kwong (13:24.58), Timothy Studebaker (14:22.95) and Chase Gill (15:57.92).

“Most of our runners are still adapting to high school cross country, and the veterans on this team are doing a nice job of bringing the freshman along,” Wright said. “We're looking forward to more good things from this team.”

All in all, it was a good meet for the Trojans.

“We had another weekend of racing that was filled with good performances,” Wright said. “With two races under our belt, our teams are coming a little more in focus. Summer training definitely pays off when you toe the line against good competition.”