Philomath’s Ana Candanoza, front, and Adele Beckstead run out front at Saturday's Paul Mariman Invitational. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath High’s girls cross-country team continues to beat all-comers and that was certainly true on a hot Saturday afternoon at the 38th annual Paul Mariman Invitational. The Warriors placed all seven of its runners in the top 15 and junior Adele Beckstead and sophomore Ana Candanoza finished 1-2 in a dominating home performance.

Beckstead covered the course in 19:56.6 — a slower time compared to other 5-kilometer races she’s competed in over the past three weeks. But it can be a difficult exercise to try to compare cross-country times because of each course’s unique features and conditions.

The new Mariman course, for example, currently features stretches of soft mulch that’s not yet compacted, there are a good number of turns compared to some of the other venues and the competitors were running under a hot sun beating down on them with temperatures that got into the 80s at race time.

So pushing aside the tendency to compare times, Beckstead’s form and strategy proved to be a winning combination.

“I was real proud of her for being a little more patient,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said. “She waited, she waited and then she found a good moment to make a move. And it was pretty decisive.”

Beckstead’s good moment occurred with about a little more than a mile to go.

“You don’t want to just go in front of somebody and let them think that they can just go right past you again so she made it count,” Fulton said. “Once she opened up a lead, Ana was slowly closing it again but it was too big.”

Philomath junior Adele Beckstead sprints to the finish line to take first place at Saturday’s Paul Mariman Invitational. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Beckstead, who led Candanoza by about 25 yards as they entered the Clemens Field track, said she had a plan going in.

“I just really tried to pace myself today for the full three miles,” Beckstead said. “We’re all trying to work towards state.”

Candanoza came in at 20:10.5 for her second-place finish.

“I had a strategy and then it didn’t end up working out,” Candanoza said. “I didn’t start out how I was supposed to … the first mile was really fast, it was too fast, and then especially with the heat, it was really hard to hang on.”

The Warriors were not challenged in the team race. Sophomore Lucy King has been scoring important points for the team all season and placed fifth in 21:14.6. Junior Hallie Morrison had a top-10 finish as well in ninth with a time of 21:38.1. And junior Melea Lattin was the team’s fifth scoring runner with 11th in 22:02.2.

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Philomath’s sixth and seventh runners had high finishes as well with junior Kateri Pindell in 13th with a time of 22:10.0 and junior Hanna McDaniel’s 14th in 22:25.7.

Beckstead and Candanoza have been interchangeable all season in 5K races as far as the team’s top runner. Beckstead was the higher placewinner at the Country Fair Classic and the Northwest Classic while Candanoza finished as the No. 1 runner in meets the Stayton Invite and Nike Portland Classic. Candanoza also finished higher at the Ultimook but Beckstead was slowed down considerably by losing a shoe in a mud pit.

“We’re friends, we’re competitive and it’s fun to win but it’s also really cool to see your teammate win,” Candanoza said.

Philomath High’s girls cross-country team celebrates their first-place finish with the traditional tree trophy. From left, Lucy King, Hallie Morrison, Melea Lattin, Adele Beckstead, Ana Candanoza, Kateri Pindell and Hanna McDaniel. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Said Beckstead, “All of my teammates are always nice and encouraging … of course, we’re all pretty competitive, too.”

Beckstead saw positives coming out of the ultra-competitive Nike Portland Classic the previous weekend.

“It was a good experience for all of us to get to race there — it was a lot of competition,” she said.

For Philomath, opportunities to face good competition have been limited. The Warriors have finished in first place in all of their meets except when going up against those exceptional out-of-state schools at the Nike Portland.

“It is nice to have competition,” Beckstead said. “But we can always still work on what’s best for ourselves.”

Philomath’s Hanna McDaniel helps teammate Kateri Pindell cool off following the girls’ varsity race. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

As cross-country practice started in August, it appeared there would be no Paul Mariman Invitational after the course was lost following an extensive project to remove damaged trees. But a collaborative effort involving coaches, the school and the community came together to get a course re-established.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we were able to get it in good enough shape to run,” Candanoza said.

“I was surprised … they built the course so quick and everything worked out,” Beckstead said.

And said Fulton, “I appreciate the fact that everybody came together to make it happen.”

Philomath’s Lucy King placed fifth overall. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath’s junior varsity team had the lowest score possible to beat out Scappoose — those were the only two schools with complete JV teams. Junior Brooke McDaniel won in 22:59.1, followed by senior Alexa Eckhold (23:05.3), junior Kyah Weeber (23:14.2), freshman Ava Panico (24:58.8) and senior Phoebe Coen (25:27.2).

The invite also includes a middle school division and Philomath took the team title with three of the top five runners. Eighth grader Cassidy Smart won, sixth grader Olivia Hernandez was third and eighth grader Reagan Nuno placed fifth.

Philomath will continue the season next weekend with an Oct. 14 appearance at the CG Bramble Scramble at Cottage Grove. The varsity girls are scheduled to run at 1:15 p.m. There will also be junior varsity and middle school races.

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.