Sam May and Josh Liddell cross the line together at the Oxford Classic held last Friday in Bend. 
 photo by Charlie Kanzig
Sam May and Josh Liddell cross the line together at the Oxford Classic held last Friday in Bend. photo by Charlie Kanzig
Racing locally for the first and only time this season, the Outlaws boys cross-country team placed fourth as a team at the Oxford Classic held in Bend at Drake Park on Friday, October 4.

The Outlaws could not quite keep pace with Summit and Ashland, but beat all the other Oregon schools, many from the 5A and 6A ranks, including Bend, Mountain View, Redmond, South Medford, North Medford and Crook County.

Summit, ranked seventh among 6A boys teams took top honors with 66 points, while Ashland, the number-one-ranked 5A school and running without its top runner, placed second with 84. Ridgevue of Nampa, Idaho was third (115) and Sisters was fourth (144) among 18 complete teams.

“The simple goal of the meet was to compete with the big dogs,” said Coach Josh Nordell, and the boys did that.”

John Peckham, fourth, and Will Thorsett, ninth, led the Outlaws up front with times of “That was the best race I have ever run so far in my life,” Peckham said. “I was ahead of guys I have never beaten before.”

He and Thorsett were in good company. The winner, Reed Pryor of Ashland (15:56), placed fifth at state in track last season in both the 1,500 and 3,000, with bests of 4:00 and 8:40, and is currently ranked third among all 5A cross-country runners.

Second place went to Bennett Jackson of Bend High (16:08) and third to Sam Hatfield of Summit (16:16). The pair hold the top two best times in the 6A Mountain Valley Conference.

Another focus for the Outlaws was to get the rest of the scorers running near one another, which they were able to accomplish as Ethan Hosang (17:43), Sam May (17:58) and Josh Liddell (17:58) and sixth man Vicente Rebolledo (18:01) kept the spread under 20 seconds. Max Palanuk ran seventh for the team with a time of 18:58.

For the junior varsity boys, the race was the first in nearly two weeks and many turned in personal bests, including Kaleb Briggs, Taine Martin, Ilya Goheen, and Matt Riehle.

“Our boys have been showing consistently strong efforts in meets, which is good to see as we enter the final month of the season,” said Nordell.

The team is scheduled to take part in the annual Paul Mariman Invitational hosted by Philomath High School on Saturday, October 12. The meet shapes up as not only a good preview of the Oregon West District Meet, but also features all of the top-five-ranked 4A boys teams including, in order of ranking, Siuslaw, Marist Catholic, Newport, Sisters, and Philomath.

The high school portion of the meet begins at 1 p.m., with junior varsity girls. The course is on the grounds of Philomath Middle and High School. There is no admission fee.

“While we have to keep our focus on the district and, hopefully, state meets, running at Philomath will give us a good look at our competition,” said Nordell.