The Philomath High girls conquered The Ultimook Race’s unique course Saturday to take the event’s 1A-4A team title for the third straight year.
Sophomore Ana Candanoza placed third individually and all five of the Warriors’ scorers finished among the top 25. For the boys, Philomath had a top-10 finisher in sophomore Leo Pausch and ended up sixth in a field of 35 full teams.
Staged at Hydrangea Ranch near Tillamook, the course is mostly flat through picturesque hydrangea fields but also goes through a creek twice along with a deep mud pit.
In the girls’ race, a pair of Oregon Episcopal runners finished 1-2 just a tenth of a second apart from one another. Candanoza was all alone in third with a time of 20:26.0 — about 22 seconds behind the top runners and 16 seconds ahead of the fourth-place finisher.
Junior Hallie Morrison had what coach Joe Fulton described as a “breakthrough race” with an 11th-place finish in 21:36.0.
Junior Adele Beckstead, a strong contender to win, had a tough time by losing a shoe in the mud pit — something that also happened to her at the 2021 meet. Fulton said it took a significant amount of time for her to retrieve the shoe and put it back on while falling back to about 50th. But she regrouped, finished strong and made her way up to 13th in 21:59.8.
Sophomore Lucy King finished 16th in 22:02.4 and junior Melea Lattin was 23rd in 22:25.4 to round out the team scorers. Juniors Kateri Pindell and Hanna McDaniel also ran varsity and finished 28th (22:34.5) and 38th (23:06.1), respectively. There were 186 runners in the race.
Pausch had an improvement of 1 minute, 5 seconds over his time from a year ago in this race and placed eighth in 17:38.8. Sophomore Lukas Hernandez had a top-25 showing with a time of 18:38.9, which was good for 21st place.
The rest of the lineup for the Warriors included junior JJ Lewis (56th, 20:04.1), sophomore Mason Stevens (10th, 20:33.0), freshman Jacob Hernandez (97th, 21:00.1) and freshman Galen Murch (101st, 21:01.8). There were 257 entrants in the boys’ race.
Newport won the team title for the boys with an impressive showing that included the No. 3 and No. 4 individual runners.
In the junior varsity races, Philomath’s girls won easily with five of the top seven runners. Senior Alexa Eckhold was the runner-up in 23:08.0. Junior Kyah Weeber was third, junior Brooke McDaniel fourth, senior Phoebe Coen sixth and senior Danielle Harris seventh.
Philomath will next compete on Sept. 9 at the Stayton Invitational. The schedule shows varsity start times of 11 a.m. for the girls and 11:45 a.m. for the boys.