By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Coming off his 5,200 meter win at the Conquer the Hill race at Delphian School September 26, Clement Afterbuffalo followed up his win with a fifth-place finish at the Regis/Stayton Invitational Thursday afternoon in Stayton.
His 17:30.8 time, though six seconds off his PR set last year, was a season-best for the Braves Senior as he hung around the front of the pack for the majority of the race coming off his 27th-place finish at 3A/2A/1A State in his first year of Cross Country in 2018.
“It’s all great. You just got to work hard everyday at practice, push your teammates, help them run with you,” said Afterbuffalo.
Chemawa returns Afterbuffalo as their top runner from their District Runner-Up team along with Davey Hogan and a dye-blonde Ryan Wier. Tyrrel Francisco returns after taking his Junior season off and Isaac Corn has appeared in a few races this season for the Braves as they wrapped up their sixth race of the year with a fourth-place finish in a field of 15 teams.
Coming off a District Championship in 2017 Chemawa were 19 points off the pace of East Linn Christian in 2018, but with a strong core returning and the Eagles Jedaiah Wasson graduated, the Individual District Title is up for grabs as the Braves look for their second District Title in three years as they get back to work moving forward.
And as the races calm down and coming down to the final stretch of Thursday’s race, Afterbuffalo kicked it into his final kick that has helped him pick off runners in Track and as well as Cross Country with St. Paul’s Broden Lear in his sights coming down the stretch.
Lear, who finished ahead of Afterbuffalo at Districts and finished 12th in 3A/2A/1A State in 2018, felt someone coming up to him as he too put it into high gear for the finish line.
The Junior Buckaroo finished 0.2 of a second, a half-foot pointed Afterbuffalo, ahead for fourth as both racers congratulated each other and patted each other on the back. Knowing that this could be a race-within-the-race come Districts on October 31.
“It was amazing, just matching our strides. Run strong and smart,” said Afterbuffalo. “It felt perfect for me, it was one of the best races I’ve had all year and I’m looking forward to more races like that this year.”
Weir was 21st at 19:21.5, Francisco finished 26th, Braden Underwood was 52nd and Nazaire Brisbois was 65th in a field of 131.