Mateo Candanoza
Philomath junior Mateo Candanoza placed sixth overall at the 4A championships on Saturday in Eugene. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

With a healthy and full varsity roster, the Philomath High School boys cross-country team would’ve challenged for the state runner-up trophy on Saturday at the Class 4A Championships in Eugene. But even with the squad missing its No. 1 and No. 5 runners, the team still performed well enough for seventh out of the dozen teams that qualified.


Running for the third time this season on a Lane Community College course, the Warriors had a bright spot in junior Mateo Candanoza, who placed sixth overall with a time of 17:03.40 and earned first-team all-state status. Juniors Ben Hernandez and Jesse Erickson finished 25th and 28th, respectively.

The Warriors competed without junior Brody Bushnell and senior Mark Grimmer.

“Mateo had a great race and Ben and Jesse both made honorable mention all-state but we just couldn’t make up for losing Brody and Mark,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said. “If Brody and Mark had been there, I think we probably would’ve finished second. You notice Sisters took second and we whipped them at the district meet. It was just tough luck for us.”

Philomath ran with the minimum five in the race with no healthy alternates available.

Bushnell has unfortunately been dealing with a health-related condition late this season that forced him to miss Saturday’s race. Grimmer opted out of running because he needed to be at full strength for Philomath’s Saturday night playoff soccer game, which Fulton said was understandable considering that the senior has only one gear when he competes.

Warriors junior Ben Hernandez runs the course at Lane on Saturday. He finished 25th overall for all-state honorable mention. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

“He’s their No. 1 guy and when he races, he leaves it all on the course so he would’ve been pretty wiped out,” Fulton said about Grimmer, who went on to score Philomath’s only goal in a 1-0 win over North Marion. “Whereas Mateo and Ben, they’re fine, they’ll be able to go play the soccer game.”

Marshfield junior Alexander Garcia-Silver took first place individually by a solid margin when he broke the tape at 16:02.20.

Candanoza, fresh off a district title the previous week in Eugene, had a modest start but that was by design.

“I just didn’t want to start out too fast,” Candanoza said. “I was further back for the first couple of miles and I started to move up. I know the course (at Lane) pretty well … it changes from race to race but not very much.”

Hernandez came in with a time of 18:04.60 and Erickson followed three runners later at 18:12.3. No Philomath runners had personal-record times at the meet and the winner, Garcia-Silver, had a time that was 56 seconds off of his PR.

“Times were “pretty slow out there today … I guess it rained really hard before the races started,” Fulton said.

Philomath junior Jesse Erickson earned all-state honorable mention with 28th at Saturday’s meet. (Photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

Freshman Warwick Bushnell finished 63rd overall in 19:33.8 — Fulton said he ran a pretty decent race — and freshman JJ Lewis ended up 86th in 22:40.20. There were 91 runners on the course.

Siuslaw easily won the team title with 42 points and Sisters was the runner-up at 88. Cottage Grove and Valley Catholic weren’t too far behind with 88 points.

As for Candanoza, he said his season got off to a rough start with slower times.

“Then I think I started to run with Brody a little more on the weekends,” Candanoza said. “I think that helped a lot to help me pick up my times and improve my confidence.”

Candanoza knows that hard work can pay off in the sport.

“It’s all about the work that you put into it,” he said. “If you just work hard, you can definitely improve. And that’s goes for anyone.”

Class 4A Championships
Saturday, Nov. 6, at Lane Community College, Eugene

Team Scoring
1, Siuslaw 42; 2, Sisters 88; 3, Cottage Grove 93; 4, Valley Catholic 93; 5, Hidden Valley 135; 6, Klamath Union 148; 7, Philomath 171; 8, Astoria 194; 9, Baker 223; 10, La Grande 275; 11, North Marion 304; 12, Molalla 333.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Alexander Garcia-Silver, Marshfield, 16:02.20
2. Chad Hughes, Siuslaw, 16:30.70
3. Elwood Hosking, Phoenix, 16:49.93
4. Samuel Ulrich, Siuslaw, 16:49.95
5. Henry Tierney, Valley Catholic, 16:59.30
6. Mateo Candanoza, Philomath, 17:03.40
7. Kyle Hughes, Siuslaw, 17:05.70
8. Grant Bohannon, Hidden Valley, 17:09.10
9. Justin Ball, North Valley, 17:09.30
10. Jaden Owens, Cottage Grove, 17:09.60
PHS Results
6. Mateo Candanoza, 17:03.40
25. Ben Hernandez, 18:04.60
28. Jesse Erickson, 18:12.30
63. Warwick Bushnell, 19:33.80
86. JJ Lewis, 22:40.20 has no paywall and to keep it that way, we rely on voluntary memberships. If you’re already a member, thank you for contributing. To join our community as a member or to make a one-time contribution, please CLICK HERE.