BOISE, Idaho - Crater's boys cross country team pulled off a monumental victory Saturday, winning the Bob Firman Invitational ahead of three teams ranked in the top 25 nationally.
The meet was held at Eagle Island State Park, which will also be the site of a Nike regional competition - leading to the national meet - a week after the high school season is completed.
I'm excited, said Crater coach Justin Loftus. I don't know if I'm surprised. We've been thinking about this since last year. Preparation has been the program for a long time. The guys have been pretty focused for a while.
Crater, the defending Class 5A Oregon state champion, competed in the elite, or highest, division at the meet. In the field were second-ranked North Central of Spokane, Wash., 17th-ranked Trabuco Hills, Calif., and 23rd-ranked Central Valley, also of Spokane.
The Comets are rated fourth in the Pacific Northwest, behind the two Spokane schools and Jesuit of Portland.
Crater was led by Ryan Santana's ninth-place finish in 16 minutes, 4 seconds over 5,000 meters. It scored 121 points, followed by North Central with 124. Third-place Orem, Utah, was well back with 171 points.
It was a really strong race by Ryan, said Loftus. It was a strong race by pretty much all of our top five.
The next three Comets - Josh Elliott, Jerrod Puckett and Zach Elliott - all were timed in 16:20, placing 26th, 28th and 29th, respectively. Wyatt Rice-Narush was 57th in 16:47.
ASHLAND SHINES - At Eugene, Ashland's boys won the Invitational Division and the Grizzly girls were second in the meet at Lane Community College.
Individually, Phoenix's Elliott Jantzer won the Invitational 5,000-meter race, helping the Pirates to 10th place in the top division.
There also was an open division for lower level teams, and St. Mary's girls - getting a one-two finish from Mary Bennion and Morgan Martin - fared well, placing fourth, one spot ahead of North Medford.
In the boys open meet, North Medford placed fourth.
Ashland's boys scored 88 points, well ahead of runner-up Lake Oswego (125 points) in the 16-team field. Hidden Valley was third (128).
I was kind of surprised by that, said Ashland coach Bob Julian Jr. There were a lot of teams. Our boys are pretty young, besides, so that was pretty cool.
Elliott and Ashland's top finisher, Matt Miner, went out in the lead pack, which had separated from the rest after the first mile.
They were all going after it at the outset, said Phoenix coach John Cornet. They all had legitimate chances to win it going in.
Jantzer did prevail, clocking 16 minutes, 4 seconds. Miner placed third in 16:27. Two other Ashland runners were in the top 12: Wilder Schaaf (11th, 17:01) and Ryland Karlovich (12th, 17:02).
For the Ashland girls, Ariah Hemphill was sixth in 19:49. They scored 118 points, behind winner Crescent Valley's 62. The Phoenix girls placed sixth, getting its four top runners to place from 21st to 29th. Illinois Valley was 13th.
In the open division, Bennion cruised to the win in 20:06. Martin was clocked in 20:19, and teammate Rebecca Tribelhorn was 12th in 21:04.
Other Open Division boys teams were Illinois Valley (18th), Eagle Point (23rd) and St. Mary's (24th).