Many of the best teams in the northwest were on hand to contest the Jim Danner Invitational at Blue Lake Park in Gresham, Oregon. With good running weather & a temperature a bit over 60 degrees fans looked forward to some fine races & they were not disappointed. The girls? division 1 race started with a bang of Jennifer Maricas of Hermiston & Katie Sullivan went out fast from the start. The girls raced away but were surrounded by a swarm of others and at about 800 meters it was still Macias pushing the pace but she was in a pack of around 20 runners. The race began to take shape around the mile mark at which time Megan O? Reilly of Mount Spokane took about a 10 meter lead. She was followed by Sheryl Page of Sandy, who earlier had won the South Salem Invitational. She held a narrow lead over Dana Morgan Boise, the winner of the Firman Invitational., was a stride behind & closely followed by a pack of 3 runners, which included Bellarmine?s Nicole Cochran.
By the time O? Reilly reached the 2 mile point she had a commanding lead over Morgan, who in turn had a 15 meter lead over Aloha?s Shelby Brennan. Running easily the lead continued to grow & in the end won by almost a full minute. Boise star Morgan placed 3rd, while Page held on to 4th ahead of Cochran. It should be noted that O? Reilly, who had earlier won the Mountain West Invitational, obliterated the course record set last year by Brie Felnagle, who was a Footlocker Qualifier.
The team race saw Boise easily defeat Jesuit, which is 1st ranked in Oregon & highly ranked nationally. Snohomish, ranked 2nd in Washington, placed 3rd while South Eugene placed 4th ahead of Rapid City. Liberty (Mo.) was 6th followed by Rapid City, Los Gatos (Ca) Bishop Kelly (Id) & Bellarmine (WA).
If the girl?s race saw an overwhelming individual winner, the boy?s race was the opposite. It seemed as if everyone was fighting for the lead from the beginning & after a half mile of running there was still a large group in contention. The leaders, however, were Isaac Stoutenburgh of Crater, last year?s winner, Kenny Klotz of Central Catholic & & Matt Petrillo of Los Gatos. The only change after another half mile was that Petrillo was replaced by Jake Keyser of Crater. Brad Taylor of Oakridge was just a bit back as was Matt Helmer of Jackson.
Reaching the Lake for the 2nd time Stoutenburgh & Klotz held a 5 meter lead over Helmer & Taylor, who was beginning to struggle. At that point every one else was pretty much out of contention. They went out of sight for a bit and when next seen the leaders were joined by Helmer. The race moved away from the lake &, like last year, Stoutenburgh began a surge. He quickly gained a 20 yard lead as both Klotz & Helmer were slow to answer but even so Helmer moved about 5 yards ahead of the Central Catholic runner. Rounding the last turn & heading for home Stoutenburgh was rolling and the race appeared to be over but suddenly Helmer made a move & closed the gap. Klotz appeared to be hopelessly beaten until he made a fierce drive only 70 meters to go. Almost incredibly he charged back into the picture just as Helmer returned to Stoutenburgh?s side. The arrival of Klotz spurred Stoutenburgh, who surged again. Klotz & Stoutenburgh quickly drew away from Helmer & were literally shoulder to shoulder, as the finish loomed just ahead. Central?s Klotz appeared to lean into the finish & as he did so he hit Stoutenburgh from behind in the shoulder nudging him forward. The race was too close to call in fact both runners asked who had won. After a delay of a few minutes the Crater runner was declared the winner. It was an incredible finish & with only a month to go before State they both appear to be the ones to beat. It should be noted that Jerhoemee Murray was impressive in easily winning the division two races (he also won at New Balance) & he may have something to say as well.
Central Catholic easily won the team championship defeating Boise. Liberty of Missouri was close behind in 3rd ahead of Hermiston. Los Gatos & St. Helens placed 5th & 6th while highly ranked Jesuit did not even make the first page finishing 15th. Behind them was Snohomish, ranked 4th in Washington. That in a way underscores the egalitarian nature of distance running. No matter how good you are, everyone has days that can be discouraging. Thanks to the Danner people, who staged a fine race that drew teams from a fair number of states. They even seemed to have an in with the weather gods for in spite of threatening all morning & afternoon, the rain waited not only for the races but for the awards ceremony & then let loose.