PHS junior Adele Beckstead, seen here at last year’s Paul Mariman Invitational, placed second at The Opener Friday evening in Monmouth. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

A correction was made at 10:42 p.m. Aug. 25, 2023: Based on the official online results, an earlier version of this article showed Evan Hernandez as finishing 15th for PHS. Lukas Hernandez was the 15th-place finisher in the boys' varsity race.

The Philomath High girls cross-country team opened its season Friday evening in Monmouth with a strong showing in a meet that included mostly 5A and 6A schools. Behind five top-15 individual finishes, the Warriors compiled 37 points to outdistance runner-up Corvallis by 15 points.

Junior Adele Beckstead claimed second place on the 3-kilometer course in 11:02.6, sophomore Ana Candanoza placed fourth in 11:21.6 and sophomore Lucy King crossed in 10th in 11:56.6. Not far behind in 11th for PHS with a time of 11:57.4 was junior Melea Lattin, who was competing in her first high school cross-country race. Junior Hallie Morrison placed 15th in 12:17.9 to round out the times that contributed to the team score.

The team’s other four runners competing in the varsity race finished in the top 22 in a field of 56 entrants. Junior Hanna McDaniel was 18th in 12:31.8, junior Kateri Pindell was 19th in 12:32.9, senior Alexa Eckhold finished 20th in 13:00.0 and junior Kyah Weeber ended up 22nd in 13:03.1.

Corvallis senior Kate Middleton won the race in 10:40.1.

Through the first 1,500 kilometers, the Spartans’ Kate and Hannah Middleton and Philomath’s Beckstead and Candanoza had distanced themselves from the rest of the field and were running together in a pack. Over the second half of the race, Kate Middleton was able to maintain the pace to win by 22.5 seconds.

The PHS girls were ranked No. 2 in the OSAAtoday coaches preseason poll behind defending champion La Grande. Corvallis was ranked No. 4 in Class 5A’s preseason poll. And Crater, ranked No. 1 in 5A, finished fourth.

Warrior boys with 2 in top 15

Philomath High’s boys enter this season with very little varsity experience and the team’s top individual returnee was the highest finisher with 12th place. Sophomore Leo Pausch covered the distance in 9:44.9. Three spots behind him in 15th for the Warriors was sophomore Lukas Hernandez in 9:55.3.

Three other runners competed in the varsity race, which included an 82-runner field. Freshman Galen Murch ran 10:38.1 for 42nd, sophomore Mason Stevens came in with a 10:47.6 for 45th and freshman Jacob Hernandez had an 11:08.1 for 54th.

The meet also included junior varsity races. The PHS girls took first place as a team by 13 points over Corvallis. Senior Danielle Harris (third), senior Phoebe Coen (fourth), junior Averie Wilson (sixth) and freshman Ava Panico (10th) had top-10 finishes.

For the JV boys, Philomath was sixth with freshman Oakley Pausch and senior Andrew Leonard turning in the top individual performances for 38th and 39th, respectively.

Philomath will now turn its attention to the Ultimook Race on Sept. 2 with a Hydrangea Ranch course near Tillamook known for its mud pits and river crossings. The Warriors have participated in the meet every year since 2019.

Start times for the 1A-4A varsity races are set for 11:30 a.m. for the girls and 12:15 p.m. for the boys.