MISSION — With her time as a Bulldog winding down, Hermiston cross country runner Maggie Coleman is only revving up.
A week after the senior shattered her personal record by almost a minute — on the way setting a new girls’ school record in the 5,000 meters — Coleman cruised to a first-place finish at the Kyle Burnside Wildhorse Meet at Wildhorse Golf Course on Friday. Her time of 18:44.47, while more than 40 seconds slower than the race of her life at Portland’s XC Classic last Saturday, was still easily enough to win the Wildhorse race.
Coleman had 13 seconds of separation between herself and the No. 2, Hood River Valley runner Grace Grim, and the Hermiston girl posted her second-fastest time of her high school career.
“I didn’t know I could do this and it’s so cool. And after all these years I guess it just finally clicked,” Coleman said.
Her gold finish, plus a fifth-placer by teammate Katie Markwick, helped Hermiston score top points as a team, tying Hood River Valley for first.
The Wildhorse Meet is the final lead-in race for the cross country postseason. Hermiston, Pendleton and The Dalles Wahtonka will visit Hood River next Saturday for the CRC District Championship and a chance at the state meet the following week.
For teams like Pendleton, which finished fourth and fifth in the girls’ and boys’ races respectively, judging the competition for that next meet will be important. Everybody’s trying to catch Hermiston, the Bucks’ Delaney Clem said, and they should be the ruler to which the other teams measure themselves.
“We’ve been training really hard to get with Hermiston,” said Clem, who finished sixth and would have caught Hermiston’s Markwick had the course been just a few hundred feet longer. “I was just hoping to be kind of close to her but she had a good race. So we’ll see at districts, too.”
Clem, a freshman, was the top Buckaroo finisher on either side. Her time was 19:31.52. The next closest Pendleton girl, Evelyn Perez, came in 16th place.
For the boys, junior Alex Ferder put in a Top 10 finish, placing ninth behind his 17:24.16. He edged La Grande’s Elliott Jonasson by less than one second and came across in the front of a mini five-man pack. The Bucks’ Nolan Bylenga was the next best Pendleton placer in 17th.
The Hermiston boys, who tallied points good for third overall, had a much different makeup than the usual Bulldog cross country runners. The Big 3 of Eduardo Juarez, Alejandro Cisneros and Jose Macias all sat out the race. Hermiston coach Jake Puzey said with weather forecasts pointing toward rain and wind — a promise nature delivered upon Friday — and the season for his all-state guys likely to extend into November, this meet felt like a perfect chance to get them some rest.
And to see what the remaineder of the Dawgs’ pack could do.
“We wanted to give some of those younger guys a chance to step up and see how they mix it up in a varsity setting,” he said.
Efrain Jaime filled in the gap nicely for a fourth-place finish in the race. Jaime, a senior used to being the fourth-best runner on his own team, said he enjoyed getting to stretch his legs for the top spot.
“It was exciting just to be leading,” said Jaime, who clocked in a 16:37.10. “It was going fine through the first mile and everything but after two miles I started fading off a little.”
Nathan Sanders’ run for 12th place was the next best for Hermiston, who expects a much better team score in Hood River next time with its full set of horses.
Other area schools at the event included Mac-Hi, Umatilla, Stanfield, Weston-McEwen and Nixyaawii.
Mac-Hi, sixth for girls and 10th for boys, was led by Josie Lonai’s seventh-place finish on the girls’ side. She ran her last meter in 19:43.15. Jesus Saldana was the best placer for the boys in 21st.
Umatilla’s Berenice Chavez was 28th, Weston-McEwen’s Elizabeth Herbes finished 41st while Stanfield’s Bailey Watson placed 69th. Nixyaawii’s Jace Quaempts was his school’s best runner in 68th.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.