By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.–Lining up for the last hurrah at the State Meet were the Stayton Seven.
Amongst them was their number-one runner and headliner in Casey Pugh, racing in his last 5K as a prep athlete for the Eagles.
Through the first two miles, him amd teammate Matt Frazuer were hovering around that fifth spot, going through the inclines and the declines, the muddy spots and the drier spots on the course.
Call it fatigue or passing of the torch to Frazuer, Pugh slowed a bit in his pace with Frazuer and a few runners passing him by the time they entered the Lane Community College track as the twilight of his prep cross country career was a few hundred meters away from ending.
It was bittersweet as Pugh described the race, which he podiumed at tenth, as he went into his kick for the last time.
“It’s fine I mean, I know I’m running next year in College and I got a couple more races but it was kind of sucky coming out with tenth place and not getting better from alst year. It’s ok,” said Pugh. “Matt did great and I’m happy for him.”
“I didn’t expect to be that fast, I knew it was going to be fast but I was kind of hoping to lean towards the slower side so I could have a better second two miles and we ran about a 5:05, and then we slowed it wayy down,” Pugh described the race itself. “Me and the next four guys I think and I was hovering with them pretty good and once I hit this hill, I was one place up and I hit this hill over here (by the finish line), and that really hurt me.”
Pugh finished the race on the turquoise blue course at a time of 16:57 for tenth as mentioned above. You could tell it was not his best race, but it’ll be a good learning experience as he makes the move to the next level with college competition as Ben Kirby finished two spots behind him in 12th.
“Well, just don’t take anything for grated, you think you could be the greatest runner of all time, but you can still be beat,” said Pugh on the future. “I just need to train harder…double than what I have been, just get ready for track season.”
As for leaving the program with a second-place finish, man that’s a good feeling with Brody Johnson (44th) and Issac Nieto (52nd) rounding out the Top 5 to help Stayton take second with a 96 score.
“It feels great because I know that it’s going to only get better and I think my coaches, he’s a really great man, he’s a great coach and he taught me a lot of life lessons and stuff,” said Pugh on his coaches. “He’s going to keep leaving an impact on this program, so I think we’re in good hands.”
GIRLS FINISHING SIXTH
Talk about leaving an impression to end your freshman season if your Hailey Notman.
After making the move to the 5K races just this year, the freshman described the difficulty of the course, but also to knows it’s just a learning experience for her sophomore season.
“I think I did good, but it was really hard to do. At the beginning of it, it was easy because you just started and it got harder,” said Notman. “Learn how to get up the hill faster, (they’re) very hard espcially going up that one over there (pointing to the hill furthest from the track) because you…going up one hill, that’s easy but if you keep going up, it’ll get harder because your using a lot of energy going up the hills.”
For Jessie Mitchell and Alyssa Cudd, both PR through the muddy course in front of them Saturday morning.
“I think this time was a lot better bercause I was with a team and I was a lot less nervous,” said Mitchell who ran a 21:32 and finished 43rd, 18 seconds off of teammate Skyla Anderson’s 21:14 team.
“I think I did pretty good because it’s my first year, but I don’t know about everyone else but the race was decent compare to the rest,” said Cudd, who ran a 22:28 in the race and was 70th.
Similar to the boys team entering this year, the girls too will be returning in full force in 2018.
And with a strong team on the boys side and a returning young core of girls on the girls side, Head Coach Erin Holm is excited for the possiblities.
“Just overall it’s really impressive how they both did, espically on the girls side to come in and finish up sixth. But it’s a great way to send out our seniors and a great way to get them excited for next year,” said Holm of the team “Even last year, it was a stepping stone of how I think they’re going to step in there. They’re going to expect them to be there and they won’t be excited just to make it to State, they’re going to expect to place.
“And the boys, they’re going to be on a mission to see if they can win it next year and the girls, they’re going to be in that top running too. So it’s going to be really cool next year.”