PHS cross-country coach Joe Fulton talks to runners at last year's Paul Mariman Invitational. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Runners, coaches, parents and others will take over Philomath Oct. 7 for the 38th Paul Mariman Invitational. Organizers earlier this month made the final decision to go on with the meet while setting up a new course following the Downing forest tree-removal project that occurred late this summer.

“It was such an outpouring of support and outrage that the city and the school district just knew something had to be done and done quickly and they did it,” Philomath High cross-country coach Joe Fulton said, adding that he believes the response to a Philomath News story about the course helped spark the effort.

“I can tell Joey (DiGiovannangelo) and the facilities crew are having fun, too, because they’re creating something out there,” Fulton added. “They seem to be enjoying making new hills for us and spreading things out. It’s going to be nice.”

The Mariman Invitational allows only Class 4A and smaller schools and traditionally attracts a large number of teams. The list currently includes 26 high schools, 14 middle schools and two club teams.

Fulton and Brian Skaar, middle school coach, mapped out a new course.

“The school district paid for a guy that came in and ground up everything that was in the way of where we wanted to have our course,” Fulton said.

In addition, School Board Chair Rick Wells arranged for free dirt to be delivered and work was done to spread, level and compact the soil. Philomath Rental loaned a skid steer to the school district’s maintenance department to assist with that part of the project, Fulton said.

The city donated $6,600 to help cover the costs and the cross-country team pitched in $1,500 to bring in bark mulch to be spread out over the dirt to later be rolled.

“We’ll have ourselves a pretty nice 1,300-meter section in the woods there that we’ll run twice,” Fulton said about those stretches of the 5,000-kilometer varsity course. A course of 3,000 kilometers was also mapped out for the middle school races.

Yet to come, Fulton said, is relocating two large stones that had marked the course’s original starting line — and then rededicating the course.

Fulton gives a lot of credit to DiGiovannangelo and the facilities department.

Said Fulton, “They’ve done a lot, they’ve done good work, everything we’ve asked them to do.”

PHS junior Caleb Russell became the first Warriors quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in a game since 2013. (File photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Four TD passes in a game

Lost a bit perhaps in the 48-0 football rout last week over Newport was the fact that junior quarterback Caleb Russell threw four touchdown passes, which appears to be a rarity when it comes to the Warriors’ history on the gridiron.

A search through the archives shows that the last four-TD passing performance occurred on Oct. 25, 2013, when junior Trey Ecker pulled off the feat in a 63-20 win over Stayton at Clemens Field.

Philomath rolled in the game by scoring 63 points in the first half alone. Ecker connected twice with senior Ben DeSaulnier on TDs — one covering 78 yards in the first quarter and another from 27 yards in the second quarter.

Ecker also hit senior Cole Chambers twice on touchdown receptions during the team’s 35-point second quarter. One of the TDs was a short pass from 5 yards out and the second one covered 19 yards.

Ecker, who is in his first year as assistant coach with this year’s football team, finished the game with 214 yards passing.

Russell’s performance last week included two TD passes to sophomore CD Nuno — a 29-yarder and a 66-yarder both in the first quarter. He also connected on a 28-yard touchdown to junior Hudson Raab in the second quarter and on a 19-yard TD to sophomore Rocco De La Rosa in the third quarter. He finished with 188 yards passing.

By the way, while trying to figure out the last four-touchdown passing game, I ran across two quarterbacks that threw three TDs in back-to-back games. Ecker did it in his senior season against the same Stayton squad in 2014 with wins of 42-28 and 39-19. The Warriors and Eagles had played in the regular-season finale and then again the following week in a play-in game.

The next season in 2015, sophomore Kenan Conner threw for three TDs in back-to-back weeks in wins of 67-18 over Yamhill-Carlton and 41-21 over Stayton.

Benbow with 1st college shutout

Teddy Benbow (Photo by University of Providence)

Former Philomath High soccer standout Teddy Benbow recorded his first shutout as a collegiate goalkeeper last week. Benbow, a freshman, plays in net for the University of Providence, a private school in Great Falls, Montana.

Going up against the University of Jamestown in a neutral site game at Billings, Benbow had a career-high seven saves, including one in the 89th minute when Jamestown threatened.

Benbow helped the Warriors win the 2021 Class 4A state championship with a memorable performance in a 2-1 win over Hidden Valley — a match that came down to penalty kicks. He earned several honors in 2021 and 2022 for his exceptional abilities on the pitch while wearing the Warriors uniform.

(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.

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