Matching each other stride for stride

Local cross country teams prepare for national invitationals

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Washougal seniors Sean Eustis (left) and Isaac Stinchfield sprint to the finish line Thursday, at Round Lake in Camas. Eustis won the race with a time of 17:22 and Stinchfield took second in 17:23.

Sean Eustis and Isaac Stinchfield were true captains Thursday.

Matching each other stride for stride, Eustis grabbed first place with a time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds, and Stinchfield snagged second place in 17:23. After an exhausting race around Round Lake in Camas, the two Washougal High School seniors backtracked the course and pushed their teammates to the finish line.

“Your lungs are on fire and your legs are like lead, but you got to keep kicking,” Eustis said. “We’ve all been through pain. When it knocks you down, can you keep going?”

“It doesn’t matter if we’re one and two, it’s those third, fourth and fifth places that matter the most,” Stinchfield added. “The more we can get these guys to stick with us, the more points we can score as a team.”

The younger Panthers were gasping for air, but the words of encouragement from their captains gave them a second wind. Junior Thomas Normandeau earned sixth place in his first varsity race (18:52), Bailey Duncan notched ninth (19:52), Nicolas Velardi took 10th (20 minutes) and Luke Belzer followed in 11th (20:13).

Although Mark Morris edged out the Washougal boys for first place as a team, head coach Terry Howard was impressed with maturity of Eustis and Stinchfield.

“They want to win,” he said. “Not only will they go out and win the race, but they’ll also do the little things it takes to win. Unfortunately, we fell one point short today.”

The Panther girls beat the Monarchs by four points. Paige Roberts rose up to second place (23:38), Karina Miller claimed fourth (24:07), Hannah Wright snatched sixth (25:01), Meredith Collins clinched seventh (25:17), Megan Anderson earned eighth (26:08) and Brooke Croeni notched ninth (26:45).

“It was really our pack that helped us win that race,” Howard said.

The Camas boys and girls, and the Washougal girls, cross country teams competed in the Seaside Three Course Challenge Saturday. The Papermaker boys placed fifth out of 21 teams in the Division 1 standings. Riley Hein earned 17th on the easy course (16:08), Michael Knight took 43rd on the easy course (16:57), Liam Bradley grabbed 56th on the moderate course (21:21), Dustin Zimmerly finished 61st on the hard course (21:57), David Woodson was 68th on the moderate course (21:45), Noah Wachlin took 73rd on the hard course (22:11) and Daniel Osterhage earned 81st on the hard course (22:18).

The Camas girls clinched sixth place out of 18 schools. Kimi Knight snagged 19th on the easy course (20:37), Marinda Hollar earned 25th on the moderate course (25:17), Laura Ketring took 29th on the hard course, Madison Smith notched 39th on the easy course (21:33), Mckenzie Good grabbed 72nd on the hard course (27:55), Ashley Meyer finished 101st on the hard course (28:39) and Catherine Harper placed 107th on the moderate course (28:07).

The Panther girls earned eighth place out of 11 teams in the Division 2 standings. Wright earned 84th on the moderate course (27:37), Miller finished 105th on the hard course (28:48), Collins claimed 144th on the moderate course (29:06), Anderson snagged 153rd on the easy course (24:45), Sydney Hickey took 157th on the easy course (24:51), Croeni notched 165th on the hard course (30:43) and Roberts placed 228th on the hard course (34:07).

Eustis and Stinchfield will represent Washougal at the Nike Pre-National meet this Saturday, at Portland Meadows.

On Sept. 15, Stinchfield and Eustis crossed the finish line in less than 16 minutes at the Saxon Invitational in Salem. Stinchfield won the event in 15:49 and Eustis earned third in 15:58.

“To get two people from Washougal on the podium was something we have never done before,” Stinchfield said.

“It feels like we’re rising up again and putting Washougal back on the map,” Eustis added.

After hosting Evergreen for a league meet today at Round Lake, the Camas girls and boys are going to Stanford University to compete in the Stanford Invitational this weekend.

The Papermakers swept Battle Ground Sept. 18, at Lewisville Park. Alexa Efraimson (18:22), Alissa Pudlitzke (20:21), Maddie Woodson (20:32), Camille Parsons (20:55) and Alexa Jones (21:52) grabbed the top five places for the girls. Andrew Kaler (16:37), Tucker Boyd (16:50), Andrew Duffy (16:58) and Jackson Cutler (17:23) took second through fifth place for the boys, and Oliver Stanchfield snatched seventh (17:42).