WALLOWA — Brenden Moore is going to get an opportunity to run at the collegiate level.
The recent Wallowa High School graduate, who ran track and cross-country as part of the school’s co-op with Enterprise, has signed his letter of intent to run for Randolph College, an NCAA Division III school based in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Moore said he learned about the East Coast school after receiving a recruitment email.
“I called the coach one day, and we talked about me coming out and running for them and that is where it is at,” he said.
As he did in high school, Moore said he will run both track and cross-country for coach Ryan Purrington and the Wildcats.
He hopes to focus in track on the 3,000-meter run, but said he’s open “to what my coach has planned for me.”
Part of what appeals to him about the 3,000 is that with it being a longer race, it allows a better opportunity for runners to set their pace, as opposed to going all-out immediately in a short race.
“(In the) 3,000 you have plenty of laps to work off your splits and improve those over time. It’s not as crowded as well. Not many people like to do 3,000,” he said. “It’s a nice, low-key event, which makes it feel more exciting.”
He said the improvement in his numbers during his senior year was part of the draw for Purrington. Indeed, this spring, he shaved more than two minutes off his time in the 5K for cross-country, from a 20:09 during a March 8 meet in Nyssa down to 18:04.1 at the district meet not quite four weeks later.
He has more ability to improve ahead of him too, as his PR in the race is 17:43.6, which he ran during the 2019 state cross-country meet prior to COVID.
On the track, he shaved off 40 seconds in five weeks in the 3,000, running a personal best 10:08.30 when he placed eighth at the state track meet in Union in May.
“He was constantly looking at my times and seeing my improvement over my senior year,” Moore said. “We talked a little bit more. He said he would be happy if I came out and ran for them.”
Moore was able to be part of two state-championship cross-country teams for Wallowa Valley, placing sixth on the squad — and 27th overall — during the 2019 state title race. In the spring of 2021, he was 18th overall and fifth on the team that repeated as state champs.
“For me, it was honestly kind of like a dream come true,” he said of his cross-country career. “I decided that cross-country was more my sport. I stuck to it. It’s been quite the experience. Just building with the team and growing closer as the years pass on.”
Part of the experience, he said, was the way the team buckled down and worked even harder to win in 2019 after just missing out on a state title in 2018 — and then winning it again a year later.
“It was relieving to see your hard work and our decision actually come through and put it on top,” he said.
Moore said he has been inspired by the recent success of former Enterprise runner David Ribich, who reached the finals in the 1,500 in the Olympic Trials in late June. He said it is proof that a small-town athlete can succeed.
“If you have the mindset to do it, you can do it,” he said. “That is the mentality he showed.”
His advice for future athletes though? Enjoy the moment.
“Don’t focus too much on the winning part, and focus more on having fun, and (then on) winning second,” he said. “High school may be your last chance to play sports. … You want to remember the good times you had during those sports.”