Muddy tracks and memories for racers in Tillamook

Several Camas girls helped a Washougal boy get to the finish line at the Ultimook Invitational Saturday, in Tillamook, Oregon.

Washougal middle school assistant coach David Lowman said there was a 30-yard mud pit a half mile into the course that ranged from knee to hip deep. Any runner who lost a shoe and couldn’t find it would be disqualified from the race.

Caden Lowman, David’s son, entered the pit in fifth place and lost his shoe on the first step. Lowman spent a few minutes frantically searching for his shoe, while all the other runners passed him.

This is when Liberty Middle School team members Bella Distante, Maddie Mazemke, Liz Mazemke, Becca Knight, Calista Kerls, Hailey Sherman and Ashley Gillespie dove into the mud to help Lowman find his shoe. These girls had already raced, showered and changed into clean clothes.

“We have great young ladies on our team, and this group exemplified them when they did the right thing by helping out,” said Liberty head coach Tom Brossia.

After another desperate minute of digging proved hopeless, Liz Mazemke gave Lowman her right shoe so he could continue on and finish the race.

“My son and I were privileged to be a part of and witness one of the finest displays of selfless sportsmanship I have seen in 30 years of coaching different sports,” David Lowman said. “These girls are heroes to me. They knew he would be disqualified if he exited without a shoe. They jumped in to help a kid they had never met and would most likely never meet again.”

After getting back into the race, Caden Lowman picked off 37 runners and crossed the finish line. He also got to celebrate a middle school championship with his teammates.

Jonathan Wells won the 3,000-meter race for Washougal with a time of 11 minutes, 59.55 seconds. Dillon Tuite earned eighth place (12:58.78), Jackson Keyser took ninth place (13:01.94), Jace Paulson finished in 15th place (13:52.78) and Sam Lewis claimed 17th place (13:57.05).

The Liberty Middle School girls earned a championship trophy. Grace Varsek grabbed first place (13:06.8), Izzy Kasten took third place (13:25.12) and Liz Kasten snagged seventh place (13:36.8). Sophia Doumitt (13:48.62), Jenna Lukowiak (13:51.75), Lucy George (13:53.62) and Hailey Sherman (13:56.5) finished in 11th through 14th place.

The Washougal High School boys cross country team clinched an Ultimook Invitational championship. Gabriel Dinnel earned third place in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 17:22.51.

“It feels great,” he said. “The team has really high spirits right now.”

Aiden Pullen placed 10th (18:10.61) and Bailey Duncan followed in 11th (18:13.18). Troy Prince-Butterfield finished in 18th (19:25.88) and Koy Chaston claimed 28th (20:16.72).

“I enjoyed the whole camping experience. We got to spend a lot of time together and bond as a team,” Duncan said. “It’s going to be a good year. Probably our best year yet. We can only get faster from here.”

The Washougal girls settled for seventh place in the high school race. Courtney Owens earned second place (21:22.08) and Hannah Swigert grabbed 12th place (23:30.47).