The Wallowa County cross country team continued to show its top-end dominance, which led to two more individual and team victories at the La Grande Invitational on Friday, Oct. 11.
Henry Coughlan led three runners in the top six with a runaway first-place finish to push the Wallowa County boys past Baker for the win on a windy Friday at La Grande Country Club, while Ellyse Tingelstad won on the girls side and was one of three Wallowa County runners in the top seven to help her team past both La Grande and Baker.
“I thought they competed really well,” Wallowa County head coach Dan Moody said of both of his squads.
Coughlan pulled away from teammate Zac Knapp about midway through the race and finished with a time of 16:28, with Knapp following in 16:51.
“I looked at my watch on the back side (on the second lap) and realized we were way off pace for what I wanted to run,” Coughlan said. “I started to kick it in. I was trying to be 16 flat or lower. I’ve been right there the last two or three meets.”
The third Wallowa County runner to cross the line, Bayden Menton, finished in sixth. Wallowa County rounded out with two more in the top 15 with John Matthews (14th) and Brenden Moore (15th).
It was just enough to edge Baker, also had three top-10 finishers — led by Kale Cassidy in third — and all five in the top 15. Wallowa County had 38 points as a team, and Baker scored 43.
Union/Cove, which was third with 75 points, had its top trio finish in ninth through 11th — Israel O’Reilly, Andrew Lackey, and Taylor Fox. Monte Kirby followed in 20th for the Bobcats and Carter Blackburn was 27th.
Cristian Mendoza led the host Tigers by taking fourth in a time of 17:15. La Grande was also fourth as a team, scoring 97 points. Two other Tigers — Braxton Bisenius in 16th and Donald Sweet in 19th — broke into the top 20.
“I was sick last week, so it was good just coming back and getting a good run in,” Mendoza said.
Kevin Hendrickson (30th) and Kaden McClure (34th) led Elgin, which took sixth.
On the girls side, Tingelstad (20:15) beat out La Grande’s Jacki Martini (20:18) and Baker’s Sydney Keller (21:20) for the top spot.
The wind — and the flat course — played into the challenge for Tingelstad.
“It’s a little tougher for me because hills are my strength and that’s where I try to lose people in races. Some people don’t do hills,” she said. “Flat courses are a lot more mental, especially ones like this where you can see most of it, and it’s the same thing three times.”
Martini and Keller finished second and third, respectively. Martini was one of the only runners who didn’t seem to mind the wind.
“I feel like I could have done stronger, but I think I did really good on the finish,” she said. “The course was really easy. It was mostly flat, but there were a few rolling hills, and the wind didn’t bother me.”
Tingelstad was joined in the top 10 by teammates Kyla Hook in fifth and Mary Catherine Matthews in seventh. Lannie Stonebrink, who was 13th, and Maddie Nordtvedt in 19th, followed for Wallowa County.
Wallowa County finished with 41 points. The close race was for second, with La Grande — getting a boost from Maia Vandervlugt’s sixth-place finish, scoring 60 points to edge Baker (62).
“This was her first race today, and she still placed top 10. Maia Vanvervlugt is a leader, she carries the girls on her shoulders when they’re down,” La Grande head coach Alma Crow said.
Corbyn Sexton was also in the top 10 for La Grande, placing ninth. Delia Gulzow and Jenna Ault finished in 26th and 27th for the Tigers.
Union/Cove followed in a close fourth, scoring 67 points. Jaimee Baxter was fourth to lead the Bobcats. A trio finished close together as Audrey Wells placed 11th, Kaitlin Martens took 14th and Danielle O’Reilly came in 17th.
Elgin had two runners, both of whom were in the top 20, as Jocelyn Palmer took 10th and Anika Jacobson placed 18th.
The teams are back in action at the Kyle Burnside Wildhorse Invite Thursday in Pendleton.