Expect the times for the Newport cross country team to improve.
With the first part of the season filled with adventure courses — like the Ultimook Race or Newport Equinox Beach Run — where speed is the afterthought and endurance is the key.
But now, with the Oregon West Conference Champions just three weeks away, the focus has shifted to speed and running faster courses.
And that’s exactly what happened at the Nike Portland XC Challenge; six of the seven boys runners either had a personal record or season record at that race. The Cubs ran in the JV Championships — over 100 teams from the western United State competed — to avoid having to wake up at 3 a.m. on Saturday to make the 8 a.m. race start time.
Kolby Spink set a personal best with a time of 16:19 and finished second in the heat. Leo Johns (17:11) Tristian Scarborough (17:43) Caden Shanks (17:51) James Lackey (18:04) and Noah Goodwin-Rice (18:35) all set season bests.
“I was hoping a couple would be running a little faster,” said head coach Tom Swinford. “But they ran well.”
The Portland gave a better indication of where the runner’s paces are at through the first couple of weeks of the season.
“Before (the times) didn’t matter because we were doing these harder courses, a 19:22 on our courses transferred to a 19 in Portland, it was that kind of difference. And that’s what I was hoping for, is that they were building.”
The reasoning behind the starting with the difficult adventure courses then shifting to the faster courses in the latter half of the season has to do to with being physically and mentally ready for the conference championships that dictate which teams and runners advance to the state meet.
The downside, Swinford says, of doing fast courses early in the season is if runners post a good time early in the season, then don’t do as well in the next course or in an adventure course, the runner can get down on themselves.
Newport’s strategy is to build strength early, then speed.
“As far as training goes, it’s getting stronger, getting stronger, getting strong, then working on speed at the end,” Swinford said. “The endurance is the hardest to build, speed doesn’t take long.”
Allana Fanning won the Junior/Senior JV heat with a season-best of 20:51. While Aliya Larsen (21:54) Jillian Thompson (23:03)Kylie Carver (27:32) and Chloe Ellam (29:24) each set personal or season bests in Portland. Swinford thinks they are one runner short of contending for a state championship berth for the girl’s team.
“The girls, if we had another runner I think we would be in the hunt,” Swinford said. “Alanna is running really well, Aliya is running really well, Natalie has been dealing with some knee issues but she’s a tough person. If we can get her strong she will contribute. Jillian is playing soccer and running; she’s doing well and hanging in there. Our fifth person is what we need. The rest of the team is really brand new.”