PHS girls cross-country
Philomath High's girls run together at Friday's Cascade Invite. Ingrid Hellesto, seen in front, took first place overall. (Photo by Audrey Gerding)

The Philomath High School boys and girls cross-country teams finished their regular season with strong showings at the Cascade Invitational on Friday afternoon. The Warriors still have their district meet next weekend and then a 4A state meet remaining on the schedule.

The Philomath boys nearly pulled off a perfect team score with the top four runners and seven of the top eight. The Warriors had 16 points with Sweet Home a distant second (60), Woodburn third (73) and Cascade fourth (103).

Sophomore Brody Bushnell led from start to finish for the individual victory but teammate Mateo Candanoza, also a sophomore, nearly caught him over the final half-mile. Bushnell won with a time of 17:23 and Candanoza came in at 17:24.

PHS coach Joe Fulton said Candanoza had been battling from behind with Woodburn’s Angel Marquez, who ended up fifth. Candanoza’s time was his season-best by 39 seconds.

“Brody’s leg speed in the final 200 was enough to secure the victory over the impressive effort by Mateo,” Fulton said.

Brody Bushnell
Philomath sophomore Brody Bushnell leads the way during Friday’s Cascade Invitational. The Warrior boys had a 1-2-3-4-6-7-8 finish in the race. (Photo by Audrey Gerding)

Senior Levi Knutson was third in 17:41 with senior Grant Hellesto taking fourth in 17:53, outkicking Marquez in the final stretch. Sophomore Ben Hernandez was sixth (18:14), senior Justin Enghauser seventh (18:16) and senior Jace Barrett eighth (18:41), who had a season-best time by 31 seconds.

Senior Sean Cummings placed 11th (19:03) and sophomore Micah Matthews was 13th (19:10) with his time being a season-best by 40 seconds.

Freshman Adian Bruce (27th, 23:47) and sophomore Max Carter (31st, 25:40) had season-best times.

Junior Bryan Thomas was forced to drop out of the race with a recurring leg injury. Senior George House sat out the race with a sore knee and sophomore Jesse Erickson remains sidelined with a stress fracture, Fulton said.

The Philomath girls won a team title as well but the Warriors had the only complete team among the four schools competing. Sophomore Ingrid Hellesto took first place with a time of 20:33, which Fulton said was her third-fastest 5-kilometer time ever.

Junior Kaeleigh Houchin placed second in 21:49, a season-best time. Fulton said Houchin passed up Sweet Home’s Jessy Hart for the runner-up finish. Freshman Phoebe Coen finished strong to place fourth in 23:48.

Danielle Harris, freshman, placed sixth in 23:59, the first time she had ever finished under 24 minutes. Freshman Alexa Eckhold was seventh in 24:13 and sophomore Ally Todd was ninth in 25:45. Junior Audrey Gerding missed another meet with a foot injury but Fulton said she hopes to be back for next weekend’s district meet.

“We now prepare for the Oregon West Conference championships next Saturday at Sweet Home,” Fulton said. “The teams need to finish in the top two to advance to the 4A state championships scheduled for April 10 in Tillamook.”

Philomath High cross-country teams have an impressive history with the boys qualifying for state in 35 of the last 36 seasons, which included a run of 33 straight. The girls have qualified for 38 of the last 40 state meets, including 31 straight. Both of those long qualifying streaks are state records.

Cascade Invitational
Friday at Cascade HS, Turner

Team Scoring
1, Philomath 16; 2, Sweet Home 60; 3, Woodburn 73; 4, Cascade 103.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Brody Bushnell, Philomath, 17:23
2. Mateo Candanoza, Philomath, 17:24
3. Levi Knutson, Philomath, 17:41
4. Grant Hellesto, Philomath, 17:53
5. Angel Marquez, Woodburn, 17:56
6. Ben Hernandez, Philomath, 18:14
7. Justin Enghauser, Philomath, 18:16
8. Jace Barrett, Philomath, 18:41
9. Nate Coleman, Sweet Home, 18:42
10. Gavin Walberg, Sweet Home, 18:53
Other PHS Results
11. Sean Cummings, 19:03
13. Micah Matthews, 19:10
27. Aidan Bruce, 23:47
31. Max Carter, 25:40
Team Scoring
1, Philomath 15.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Ingrid Hellesto, Philomath, 20:33
2. Kaeleigh Houchin, Philomath, 21:49
3. Jessy Hart, Sweet Home, 22:22
4. Phoebe Coen, Philomath, 23:48
5. Ashley Fraser, Cascade, 23:50
6. Danielle Harris, Philomath, 23:59
7. Alexa Eckhold, Philomath, 24:13
8. Sicily Neuschwander, Sweet Home, 24:53
9. Ally Todd, Philomath, 25:45
10. Abigail Scott, Cascade, 26:14

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