The Lions step up for a strong team finish at Tualatin on Wednesday
The West Linn boys cross country team came into the Three Rivers League meet at Tualatin High School on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with a singular goal — the Lions wanted to beat two-time reigning district champion Lakeridge.
West Linn did that, and almost a lot more, finishing second in the seven-team field with 52 points. Event-winner Tualatin edged the Lions by a single point, finishing with 51 points.
The complete team scoring included: Tualatin 51, West Linn 52, Lakeridge 58, Lake Oswego 99, Tigard 99, Oregon City 163.
The Lions built their win on three top-10 finishes and another two in the top 18, their efforts led by senior Sam Sanford and his fourth-place finish at 16 minutes, 30.3 seconds for the 5-kilometer race.
“I feel pretty solid, pretty good,” said Sanford, who set a new personal-best time on Wednesday. “I was going for the second place kid from Lakeridge (Curran Fogarty) and I stuck with him for the first mile or two and then I just kept going. I almost caught up to the first group.”
Sanford had plenty of help, too, with senior Kogen Brown placing seventh at 16:42.1, followed by sophomore Russell Daniels (10th in a PR of 16:58.3), senior Liam Groah (13th in a PR of 17:02.6) and senior Tyler Coke (18th at 17:30.2).
“We had a feeling that Tualatin was going to beat us, so our top priority was beating Lakeridge,” Sanford said. “I don’t know if we did, but I’m hopeful.”
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While Lakeridge — which won the TRL Preview Meet earlier this year — slipped to third at Tualatin, the Pacers were only seven points out of first and knew they could use Wednesday’s result as motivation for races to come.
“I think it was definitely a good learning point,” said Lakeridge senior Luke Loomis, who finished third overall with a time of 16:26.5. “We haven’t had a race like this before — getting everyone back together was sort of a weird feeling — but we’re in the middle of the season and everything is about learning points.”
The rest of Lakeridge’s top five all finished in the day’s top 20, with sophomore Curran Fogarty ninth at 16:48.7, senior Alex Torres 11th in a season-record time of 17:00.6, senior Walker Godfrey 15th at 17:18.0 and junior Finn Rolstad 20th at 17:33.5.
“These races are all just learning points … for my teammates as well,” Loomis said. “I know the mindset going into this race was a little iffy because we just had a big meet on Saturday — people were kind of feeling a little so-so about racing today — but I know for sure every time my teammates go out there, they put their best out there. They’re definitely going to be able to improve the rest of the season.”
While Lake Oswego placed just fourth in the team standings, junior Leo Cook ran off with the biggest individual honor of the day, outdueling Tualatin senior Jonah Beddes to place first in the field of 49 with a winning time of 16:16.6. Beddes took second at 16:16.7.
“I felt really good,. Awesome,” Cook said. “It’s crazy. The races you do the best feel the easiest. I was grinding at (the Meriwether CC Classic) and I got beat really bad by the Lakeridge kid, Luke Loomis. Then today didn’t feel as hard and I beat him.”
After Cook, senior Garret Anderson took 16th in a season-record time of 17:26.2, followed by sophomore Colin Manning (26th in a PR of 17:52.6), sophomore Rylan Eftekhar (27th in a PR of 17:56.4) and senior Eli Fayloga (29th at 17:58.2).
Cook noted that he also beat Tualatin senior Aaron Lakeman — last year’s TRL runner-up — on Wednesday, but expected Lakeman (who’s recovering from injury) to come back strong later in the season.
“I think Aaron didn’t have his best stuff today, because he would beat me on a good day,” Cook said. “I was coming in expecting to lose to him, but he’ll come around he’ll have a good season.”