Facing the other top-ranked 4A teams in the state brought out the best in the Outlaws cross-country team on Saturday, October 12.

The boys squad placed a close second at the Paul Mariman Invitational hosted by Philomath High School.

Marist Catholic topped the coaches’ polls last week, followed by Philomath and Sisters, which were tied for second. Siuslaw ranked fourth and Newport fifth.

The rankings didn’t quite hold up as the Warriors clipped the Outlaws by 11 points (59-70) in a hotly contested battle while Siuslaw placed third (83), Marist fourth (98) and Newport fifth (106) among 16 complete teams.

Junior John Peckham put the pedal to the metal midway through the 5,000-meter race to separate himself from the lead pack and he pushed to a nine-second victory with a time of 16:17. Will Thorsett nearly nabbed second place with a tremendous effort over the final 500 meters, but Wiley Watts of Marist held him off by less than 0.2 seconds as the pair clocked 16:26.53 and 16:26.69 respectively.

Josh Liddell ran a lifetime best by over 35 seconds to place 14th overall in a time of 17:05, while Sam May also knocked more than 30 seconds from his career best to place 23rd in 17:25.

Ethan Hosang finished as the fifth scorer for the Outlaws in 29th place (17:36), followed by Max Palanuk’s personal best of 17:57 (41st) and Kalden Gilbert’s season best of 19:51 (82nd) among 132 finishers.

“Philomath has a lot of depth and ran really well on their home course,” said Coach Josh Nordell. “Our boys also ran with a lot of confidence and poise. What an exciting race!”

The Outlaws and the Warriors figure to go at it hammer-and-tongs again, along with Newport, when the Oregon West district meet takes place November 2. The top two teams from that meet will advance to the state meet the following week.

“Philomath, Newport and Sisters have a long-standing, but very positive, rivalry in cross-country,” said Nordell. “I think we bring out the best in each other.”

The Outlaws have more than a week off before their next competition on October 23 at the Creekside Invitational in Salem.

“This will give us 10 full days of training to do quality work as we prepare for the championship part of the season,” said Nordell. “I am very happy with the progress and competitiveness these boys are showing right now.”