The Wallowa County combined cross-country boys and girls teams both walked away from the state meet with second-place team finishes. It was close.
The Burns boys squeaked by with just a two-point margin of victory, 52-54, while Catlin Gabel barely edged the ladies by four points, 71-75.
Coach Dan Moody said he couldn’t complain, and was happy with the finishes. He noted the weather was perfect for running –– cool but with no rain.
“It would have been nice to have a few more points, but being second is not too bad either,” he said. “We were nip and tuck, and the kids ran really well.”
Henry Coughlan of the three freshman horsemen finished second overall with a time of 16:33. The remainder of the trio saw Zac Knapp just behind in third place at 16:49 and Bayden Menton in ninth at 17:20.
“You have to remember that these boys are pretty young,” Moody said. “They did well, and it’s their first time at the state meet. They were a little uptight, but they handled it pretty well.”
He added that the boys had several likely prospects coming up from junior high to help fill out next year’s team of elites.
Ellyse Tingelstad led the ladies with a fifth-place finish and a time of 19:42. The always dependable Kyla Hook finished in the 10 slot with a short burst of speed at the end at 20:10 and Ella Coughlan blazed in with a personal record time of 20:21 at lucky 13.
The ladies defeated Burns, who had beaten Wallowa County at districts.
Moody observed that graduation will take a couple of his stalwarts, including Ella Coughlan and Ashley Wilson.
“Ella and Ashley Wilson were our two key seniors,” Moody said. He added that he had high hopes with a pair of up-and-coming eighth-graders as well as underclassmen Sydney Rouse and Lannie Stonebrink.
“We should be fairly strong on the girls’ side,” Moody said.
Noting the closeness of the contests, Moody lamented the lack of spectators at cross-country meets.
“I wish more people would watch cross-country and realize how these scores matter,” he said. “It’s a lot closer and exciting than what people think, that there’s more than just people running. There’s a lot more to it and people don’t realize it.”