Led by freshman wunderkind Henry Coughlan, the Wallowa Valley combined boys cross-country team ran wild at the 3A Special District 3 meet, defeating all-comers –– including powerhouse Burns by three points –– to solidify a trip to state. The ladies placed second for a state berth behind Ellyse Tingelstad’s second-place performance. The meet took place in Pendleton Oct. 26.

Coughlan far out-paced his closest competitor with a time of 16:26.1, and Zac Knapp held down the third spot with 16:51.3. Bayden Menton latched onto seventh with a 17:23.2 and Cole Gomes locked down 12th at 18:13.4.

“I’m really proud of the boys, they’re all so young, but they don’t run like young kids,” Coach Dan Moody said. “Henry ran a real tough race against a kid from Burns and just took him apart.”

Moody noted the course was slow and soggy, which made Coughlan’s victory all the more impressive against the Burns senior.

“Henry did what he had to do to win the district championship, and that’s pretty good for a freshman.”

Moody also noted the performance of Reece Nelson, who came in 16th with a time of 18:38.7.

“That last 50 yards he passed four or five kids, and that was the difference between beating Burns or not,” Moody said.

The ladies scored 41 points, just behind Burns’ 35 and above Union’s 50. Tingelstad’s 19:30.8 proved a point-getter at second place, only seven seconds behind Burns’ Mckenzi Hoyt, while sophomore Kyla Hook reined in a 19:56.8 for fourth place.

Ella Coughlan chased down a 20:42.5 for eighth and Ashley Wilson spotted an 11th with a time of 20:54.7.

“It was nip and tuck for the girls,” Moody said. “I was worried pretty much the whole race.”

Moody expressed pride in all his athletes.

“It was a great combined team effort,” he said. They did a fine job doing what they were supposed to do.”

He added that the team would push hard in practice until Oct. 31 before leaving the following day for Salem, where the teams will stay during the state meet, which is Saturday, Nov. 3 at Lane Community College in Eugene.

“We’re hoping both teams will take home some pretty good hardware,” he said.

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