Runners plunge into cross-creek scamper

<I>Hector del Castillo/Chieftain</I><BR>Christopher Warnock, a freshman from Joseph High School, splashes across the race course.

UNION - Every runner wore the glory of Catherine Creek.

None of the 17 boys and girls on Wallowa County's cross-country team Sept. 17 could avoid an infamous path of mud that cut between some trees at the state park near Union. Each year at the annual Catherine Creek Scamper, about 250 runners come away with cakes in their shoes, streaks down their legs and brown spots over their shorts. Some stopped and tried to navigate around the filth, but to no avail. They only slipped, or they caught the crossfire when somebody else splashed past them. Most runners slowed down and crossed their fingers, in hopes of maintaining their balance and keeping the shoes on their feet. And then, there was Austin Burns, a sophomore from Wallowa High School, who saw a chance at mischief and jumped in.

"I told everyone before the run that I was gonna do it," sophomore Austin Burns said. "They didn't believe me, so I had to. But it made running way more difficult. My shoes weighed a lot. That was killer."

Burns managed to complete his five-kilometer adventure in 22 minutes and 26 seconds. Results and times are listed in the Scoreboard on Page B3.

Burns joined four locals in the varsity race. Freshman David Ribich led the way, posting a 20:33. That was good enough for eighth place among boys from Nyssa, Baker, La Grande and Mac-Hi. Nyssa's Ryan Maag took first place, while two of his teammates made the top 10.

After Ribich and Burns, Wallowa County also had freshman Mason Hafer of Wallowa. He ran a 23:47. Next, Joseph freshman Will Story finished in 25:17. A minute later, Wallowa sophomore Pierce Millar crossed the line.

Meanwhile, two boys from Wallowa County completed the junior-varsity race. Sophomore Austin Reimer and freshman Christopher Warnock finished in the middle of the pack.

The Scamper also featured three-kilometer races for middle school. Enterprise eighth-grader Rocky Davidson took fourth pace out of 45 in the boys' run. He was less than two minutes behind the winner: Hayden Scott of Weston.

Wallowa County filled the girls' race. Eighth grader Parker Spear made the top 10. She was followed by Sammy Victor, Addie Kilgore, Natalie Reimer, Whitney Reimer, Satori Albee, Johnelle Suto, Jesse Stein and Kari Zollman.

Next, the cross-country schedule will go Sept. 24 to Lewiston, Idaho.

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