The PHS girls cross-country team lines up for a photo following Saturday's performance at the Nike Portland XC Classic. (Photo provided by Joe Fulton)

The Philomath High girls cross-country team is coming home with a fifth-place plaque from the Nike Portland XC Classic.

Accustomed to winning meets, the finish is in no way a disappointment. The competition may very well be the toughest that Philomath High’s girls will ever run — and that includes the 4A state championships.

The Warriors placed five runners in the top 50, including two in the top 20. The race had 135 runners from schools in California, Colorado, Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Philomath was the top team from among the Oregon schools, edging Caldera from Bend by three points.

A school from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, won the Division 1 girls race by nine points over runner-up Erie, Colorado. San Francisco University’s prep school team was third (127), followed by Camas, Washington, in fourth (158) and Philomath in fifth (161).

PHS sophomore Ana Candanoza was the top PHS finisher in 14th with a time of 19:16.1, which is her fastest-ever 5-kilometer time, breaking her previous best by 23.6 seconds. Junior Adele Beckstead was 17th in 19:38.1.

Junior Melea Lattin, sophomore Lucy King and junior Hallie Morrison placed 44th, 47th and 50th, respectively. All three had PR times with Lattin at 20:26.7, King at 20:29.4 and Morrison at 20:32.0.

“The girls executed the pre-race strategy perfectly, especially Hallie, Melea and Lucy,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said. “We finally raced like the team I knew we could be.”

Junior Hanna McDaniel was 68th (20:59.2) and junior Kateri Pindell 80th (21:16.1). Those were also PRs for both of those runners.

Wenatchee (Washington) junior Kylah Madaraiga won the race in 18:19.9.

The race took place on a fast three-loop course at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. The daylong event features top runners from around the west in various divisions. Philomath competed in the day’s first race at 8 a.m.

Boys, girls both win team titles

Philomath High’s boys and girls teams both took team titles Friday evening at the Willamette Golden Hour 5K in Eugene.

Only two schools had enough runners entered to finish in each division’s team standings and the Warriors had perfect scores of 15 in both races. The boys beat out Junction City while the girls finished ahead of West Albany.

Individually, the boys had five of the top six finishers. Sophomore Lukas Hernandez won comfortably with a time of 16:41.55. Hernandez this week again broke his PR with the time, which was 31.1 seconds faster than his performance the previous week on a Lane Community College course.

Sophomore Leo Pausch was second in 17:00.28, freshman Galen Murch was fourth in 18:24.10, junior JJ Lewis was fifth in 18:32.12 and freshman Jacob Hernandez was sixth in 18:46.74. All of those runners had PRs.

Philomath’s junior varsity team competed in the varsity division at the meet and won easily with five runners among the top 12.

Junior Brooke McDaniel placed third in 21:15.40, junior Kyah Weeber was fourth in 21:19.13, senior Alexa Eckhold finished sixth in 22:02.82, senior Phoebe Coen was 10th in 22:53.81 and freshman Ava Panico finished 12th in 23:35.88. McDaniel, Weeber and Panico had PR performances.

Junction City junior Libby Fox won the race in 19:48.66. Going in, the Tigers were thought to be the team to beat but only had four runners in the race and didn’t qualify for the standings.

Hosted by Willamette High School, the race took place on a course at Meadow View Middle School. Joining the host and the Warriors were runners from Creswell, Junction City, West Albany and Willamette.

Philomath also had a perfect team score in the JV boys race over West Albany. Sophomore Mason Stevens won in 18:14.72. The girls had one runner in the JV race, freshman Annaleise Brown, and she won in 23:03.15.

Philomath High’s cross-country teams will next compete this coming Saturday in its own Paul Mariman Invitational. Races begin at 11:30 a.m. at the middle school level. The varsity competitions are scheduled for 2 p.m. for the girls and 2:30 p.m. for the boys.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.