By Jeremy McDonald
LEBANON, Ore.– The Chemawa Boys Cross Country team came into the 1A/2A Special District 2 District Race Thursday seated third in the District as a team.
One of the teams in front of them was East Linn Christian Academy, who would go on to win the District Championship Thursday, but the little goals and strategy along the way helped the Braves finish second as a team to help qualify Chemawa to the State Race next week at Lane Community College.
One of the strategies was to get in front of one of the Eagles faster runners, which they did as Clement Afterbuffalo kicked it into high-gear in the final 20 yards of the race to eek out seventh-place over East Linn’s Ethan Slayden. Slayden was the Eagles third best runner of the race Thursday and was 0.2 seconds behind Afterbuffalo as the Junior Chemawa runner leaned forward at the end of the race.
During the race though, Afterbuffalo was the strongest runner for Chemawa, overcoming stomach issues from their last race entering this one with two of his Braves teammates right on his heels a few seconds behind him. The plan, that worked by races end, was to make sure they were right there by races end.
“Yeah that was the plan, to group up and pass as many people as we can,” said Ryan Weir. “That helps us a lot, last race I kind of didn’t keep up with the pack. I just ran my own race, this time I kept up with the pack and got in between a few guys and we went out there and ran our race.”
Devonte Beach came in as Chemawa’s second runner, exhausted at 14th. Davey Hogan, Isaac Corn were 16th and 17th and Weir was 19th as they took advantage of the opportunities given to them on the fast course Thursday against tough competition looking to get to the State Race.
All finished before East Linn Christian’s fifth-runner finished in Caleb Vandehey at 26th and that clump finish helped ensure Kennedy wouldn’t sneak up behind them as the Trojans finished third.
“On a scale of one-to-ten, a seven-or-eight, there were another race or two that was tougher than this, but it’s good. If we go to State, we’ll do better but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad,” said Weir, who ran a 18:21.9 in the 5K race.
And now that they are going to State as a squad, it gives them an opportunity to improve, health up and get ready to go for the State Race next weekend.
The Lady Braves finished ninth as a team at Districts with a score of 232, Erykah Rideshorse finished 44th, Ronticia Martinez was 51st and Yoiwmana Pooyuma was 63rd.