Jefferson’s Alex Chavez (1632), Patton’s Henry Ayers (1691), Kings Valley Charter School’s Nathan Mahr (1642) and Crosshill Christian’s Garrett McGuire (1577) make their way through the course. (Photo provided by Maggie Simcoe)

Nearly 200 middle-school students descended upon Kings Valley last week for an apple-themed cross-country meet. 

Now in its third year, the Kings Valley Middle School Invitational started out as the “Pumpkin Run” with the timing of it falling in October. But since last year, the invitational has been staged in September and organizers renamed it “Apple Run.” Kings Valley Charter School Athletic Director Michael Chung the meet was moved up to avoid challenging weather and scheduling conflicts with other events.

“We welcomed 17 teams to our meet this year and it was a great way to bring everyone together,” Chung said about the Sept. 14 event. “We also had lots of parents and community members help out and our senior class did some fundraising.”

Runners in the boys’ race stretch out along a fence with Kings Valley as the backdrop. (Photo provided by Maggie Simcoe)

The 3-kilometer course at Luckiamute Meadows took runners through open fields and forested areas with stretches along the Little Luckiamute River and Maxfield Creek.

“Both Jannet Kohanek and Sarah Nieminski have spent countless hours and helped create a strong cross-country program that benefits our fourth- through 12th-grade students,” Chung said. “When we first started the program two years ago, we only had four students, and now, we have about 20.”

Chung said the program teaches students teamwork and to set related goals and added that he enjoys watching friendships develop.

The top three teams for the boys were Stayton, Santiam Christian and the Timberhill Harriers. In the girls’ race, the Timberhill club team took first with Santiam Christian second and Oaklea third.

Individual winners were Brandon Wagar, an eighth grader at Stayton, and Cassidy Smart, an eighth grader who competes with Timberhill. Kings Valley’s top runners were seventh grader Nathan Muir for the boys and sixth grader Jade Lasswell for the girls.

For awards, the top three runners in each race received apple crisp as prepared by the KVCS kitchen. Those who finished fourth through 10th got caramel apples. Team trophies were a large gold shoe for first place, a medium silver shoe for second and a small bronze shoe for third.

Chung said several people made the meet possible.

“The apples were provided locally by the Rainshine Farm and there were enough for each runner and their team to have some,” Chung said. “Also, in 2022, Dr. Cliff and Gay Hall generously donated the Luckiamute Meadows to the Kings Valley community where the athletes ran … which we are forever grateful for as it gives our runners a perfect place to practice at and extra nature time for students during the day.”

The school’s Maggie Simcoe said all runners received an apple from the farm, which is just up the road a bit from the school.

Philomath High’s cross-country course has been reconstructed in recent weeks and will now host two meets this fall. (Photo by Eric Niemann)

PHS to host 2 meets

Heading into this cross-country season, Philomath High coach Joe Fulton had a difficult time envisioning an acceptable course on which to stage a meet following a late-summer tree-removal project in Downing forest.

But Fulton, middle school coach Brian Skaar, school district maintenance staff and several others from the community and those related to the project came together to rebuild a 5-kilometer trail that enabled the Warriors to host the Paul Mariman Invitational on Oct. 7.

Now, it turns out that Philomath will host a second major meet with the announcement that the Oregon West Conference Championships will be staged here.

“Newport is scheduled to host but they do not have a course,” Fulton said. “They were planning to host at Stayton because our course was demolished. But now that our new course will be completed before the Mariman Invite, Newport has requested to move the conference meet here and we have agreed.”

Work remains on making sure the course is in top shape. Fulton plans to “do a little pruning and raking” this coming weekend and hopes someone from his cross-country community steps forward with a tractor for the purpose of moving more mulch.

The Philomath High girls soccer team is ranked No. 5 in the latest OSAAtoday coaches’ poll. (File photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Girls soccer ranked No. 5

The Philomath High girls soccer team is ranked No. 5 in the latest OSAAtoday coaches poll, which was released Wednesday. The Warriors are situated behind Marist Catholic, North Marion, Hidden Valley and Scappoose. Newport is ranked seventh.

Marist, the defending state champions, are 5-0 on the season and handed Philomath its only loss, 3-2, on Aug. 31. The Spartans have allowed only four goals all season with two of those by the Warriors.

Philomath’s three wins so far involved games that were stopped early on the eight-goal mercy rule. The Warriors beat South Albany and Estacada, 9-1, and Cottage Grove, 8-0.

The schedule will get tougher for Philomath as the team gets into league play. The Warriors’ next two games are against schools with winning records — Thursday at Cascade (2-1) and Tuesday at home against No. 7 Newport (2-1-1). Then it’s a Sept. 28 trip to No. 2 North Marion in a matchup that will likely have conference title implications.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

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.