MISSION - Pendleton cross country coach Nicole Stewart promised the easiest course of the season for the Wildhorse Classic and the general consensus among runners was that the gentle slopes and rolling hills of Wildhorse Resort and Casino Golf Course are just as east on the legs as they are on the eyes.
That didn't stop runners from pushing themselves to the limit, though, as several crossed the finish line on the verge of tears and a few literally broke down seconds after finishing the race.
The highest finish for an area runner was McLoughlin's Davey Garcia. He took fourth place in the boys race with a time of 17 minutes, 31 seconds and an average mile time of 5:38.
Garcia came into the race looking for a top-20 finish.
"I think I did a lot better than that," he said. "About a mile in I knew I was doing really well."
Class 2A Union also showed up strong in the boys race, placing two runners in the top three and four in the top 10.
The Pendleton squads had another good day, finishing third in the girls race and eighth in the boys race, and now have a little bit better of an understanding of where they stand going into the Intermountain Conference district race in two weeks.
Late addition The Dalles-Wahtonka gave the Bucks something to compare themselves to and set a strong precedent in both races.
Though they didn't post a team score for the girls, the Eagle Indians' Sarah Ferrer gave Pendleton freshman Jacky Sheoships a time to work toward with her second-place finish in 19:47.
Sheoships finished fifth with a time of 20:27, but with only four state berths awarded to the Conference, she'll need to improve on that to make state in her first year.
"Overall I think I did pretty good," Sheoships said of the race. "I'm trying to go for state but the girl in front of me, The Dalles girl, is way up there."
Something else Sheoships will want to focus on is curbing her naturally effervescent personality a little on the course as she could be overheard telling Stewart that she fell for "the oldest trick in the book."
On the back side of the course, another runner struck up a conversation with Sheoships, which she immediately got involved in - taking her mind off the race for a few moments.
She also said another runner was tugging on her jersey as they went up a hill, a more blatant violation of good sportsmanship, but something she'll need to look out for as the races get more competitive.
Sheoships said having run the course already should give them an edge at districts though.
"We know the course already, we know what pace we're going to do and how where we're going to kick it in," she said.
Mike Fiore finished first of the Pendleton boys in 26th with a time of 18:30.
Fiore said the biggest advantage of holding the district race in Mission doesn't have much to do with the course.
"There's just a lot of familiar faces on the track that don't have anything to do with cross country that are cheering you on and it makes you just go faster," he said.
Stewart said she was proud of both teams, but especially the girls considering most of them were rushing off to get ready for homecoming shortly after their race ended.
"Some of them weren't maybe as focused as they could (be)," Stewart said. "They've had a crazy week for them to come and perform at this level so I was pleased that they stayed focused at least through the race."
Pendleton homecoming princesses Christine Harwood and Hannah Haberstoh finished 24th (22:24) and 47th (23:46), respectively.
Emma Anderton landed in 17th with her time of 21:45 for the Bucks.
La Grande's highest finish was from Michael Wanta with an 11th place time of 17:52 while Cathy Monahan took 15th place with a 21:39 in the girls race.
Stanfield's Tyson Blackburn placed 46th with his time of 19:20 while Weston-McEwen's Daniel Winn set the pace for the TIgerScots with a 19:56 in 69th place. TigerScot Alaina Thompson finished higher at 45th, but had a slower time at 23:42.
Condon-Wheeler's Lisa Wade finished 78th at 27:54 while Mac-Hi's Makenna McElrath turned in the Pioneers girls' fastest time in 81st place at 28:32.
The Pioneers' Hailey Rambo was off for the second straight week.
Earlier in the day the middle schools ran with Pendleton and Sandstone both having very strong performances.
Sandstone's C.J. Dirkson was the first boy to finish the mixed 3k run with a time of 12:22.
Baker's Annika Yates was the first to cross the line period with her time of 11:34 while Pendleton's Sandi Torres finished third overall with a time of 12:46.
Alma Torres was the first runner from Armand Larive to cross the line in sixth (13:19).
Natalie Arnold scored the fastest time for Weston with a 14:03, good for 14th.
1, Cody Wendt, Moscow, 16:47; 2, Jordan Monroe, Union, 17:09; 3, Tom Sheehy, Union, 17:10; 4, Davey Garcia, McLoughlin, 17:31; 5, Matt Morris, Moscow, 17:38; 6, Chris Fasel, Union, 17:40; 7, Ben Iremonger, The Dalles-Wahtonka, 17:41; 8, Gabriel O'Reilly, Union, 17:44; 9, Michael Dennis, Baker, 17:47; 10, Don Coulson, TDW, 17:49.
1, Khalia Tidwell, Gresham, 18:46; 2, Sarah Ferrer, The Dalles-Wahtonka, 19:47; 3, Julia Veseth, Moscow, 20:07; 4, Brandy Quinn, Gresham, 20:15; 5, Jacky Sheoships, Pendleton, 20:27; 6, Melissa Allen, Gresham, 20:29; 7, Jaci Filler, Moscow, 20:43; 8, Casey Dail, Moscow, 20:44; 9, Jaime Demars, Gresham, 20:51; 10, KayAnna Cecchi, Gresham, 21:12.
1, Annika Yates, Baker, 11:34; 2, C.J. Dirkson, Sandstone, 12:22; 3, Sandi Torres, Pendleton, 12:46; 4, Katriel O'Reilly, Union, 13:02; 5, Amanda Welch, Dryside, 13:11; 6, Alma Torres, Armand Larive, 13:19; 7, Mikaela Martin, Cove, 13:30; 8, Rhonda Bullard, Union, 13:33; 9, Jessica Harwood, Pendleton, 13:39; 10, Maggie Coleman, Sandstone, 13:39.
Middle school team scores
1, Union; 2, Pendleton; 3, Elgin; 4, The Dallas Middle School; 5, Sandstone.
1, Pendleton; 2, Sandstone; 3, Elgin; 4, Union; 5, Arman Larive.