Photo by Lukas Eggen
Dallas runners Trevor Cross, Gavin Grass and Toby Ruston race during the Dragons’ home meet on Oct. 18. The boys cross-country team qualified for state for the first time in more than 30 years in 2017.
As of Wednesday, October 25, 2017
DALLAS — Dallas’ home meet on Oct. 18 was a relatively laid-back affair for the Dragons’ boys cross-country team.
• Dallas’ boys team finished first at its home race on Oct. 18. Toby Ruston, Trevor Cross and Gavin Grass took the top three spots. Ruston finished the 5,000-meter course with a time of 17 minutes, 30.8 seconds. Cross recorded a time of 17:31.0 and Grass crossed the finish line in 17:47.2.
• The girls squad placed third. Sophomore Mikayla Thiel finished 14th in 25:26.60 to lead the Dragons.
Junior Trevor Cross helped pace his teammates in the team’s final tune up before the Mid-Willamette Conference District Championships Wednesday (today) at Willamette Mission State Park in Gervais.
“We feel good,” Cross said. “We’re prepared. Our training is paying off. I think we’re ready to go to state. I think this is it.”
The trio of Cross, freshman Toby Ruston and sophomore Gavin Grass will likely lead the Dragons on Thursday. Junior Orion Knudson, sophomore Antonio Barrientos, senior Ryan Bibler and senior Daniel Gagner will help round out the Dragons’ varsity squad.
“A lot of these guys have been training year-round,” Cross said. “It’s hard to do it every day. I remember doing some hills in the snow and being out there in the summer when my friends are playing games and stuff.”
That dedication has paid off so far.
Cross, who placed second at the district meet in 2016, has already beaten his sophomore personal record by more than 20 seconds (15:47.4) and Ruston and Grass set PRs under 17 minutes (16:37.0 and 16:53.3).
In addition to being faster, the Dragons have become smarter on the course.
“I’m more experienced, so I know what I’m doing,” Cross said. “Last year, I’d think I want to hit my first mile in such and such a time and I’d be off by 10 or 15 seconds. (On Wednesday), I was pacing the other guys and wanted to do the first mile in 5 minutes, 20 seconds. I did it in exactly that time.”
Since the team’s home race, the focus has been on making final preparations for districts.
In a hypothetical meet, compiled by taking each runner’s best time of the season, Dallas would take third in the team standings behind Crescent Valley and Corvallis.
The top three squads advance to state.
“It will take everyone giving it 100 percent,” Cross said. “It’s about eating well, sleeping well, drinking right, all that. We have to stay relaxed and think about what we’re doing.”
The girls squad doesn’t have the numbers to compete for a trip to state, but junior Bekah Rocak and sophomores Melody Hight and Mikayla Thiel have been running well, coach Monique Lankheet said.
The MWC district meet provides an opportunity for Dallas to experience something that hasn’t happened in recent memory — sending a team to state.
“That would be huge,” Cross said. “I feel like that’s everything we’ve been working for.”