By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It wasn’t the best of races for Stayton’s Ben Kirby coming off a cold and tough win in the muck and grime of the Warner Pacific XC Classic this past Saturday in Portland.
But hey, through the adversity the Eagles Senior did what he does best and hang around the front of the pack in the inaugural Creekside Cross Classic in Salem Wednesday where Kirby finished fifth.
“It’s not going to be easy at Districts, so I know I just got to push as hard as I can for the last part because I know it’s going to hurt,” said Kirby. “I just got to feel as fresh as ever because those Sisters guys are ready.”
Sisters runners John Peckham and Will Thorsett went 1,2 in the race, 27 and 30 seconds ahead of Kirby respectively and who knows how close it would’ve been if the Stayton runner was 100-percent healthy, but we’ll see on November 2 at the District Meet in Stayton.
The biggest thing will be that second mile, Kirby’s kryptonite, to bridge that strong start and finish to be in contention for one of the Top 5 State Qualifying spots if not the District Title.
“The second mile is probably the most important because you can make up so much ground. But if you go way too fast that second mile you’ll burn yourself out, so it’s important to hit it just right to be in the spot you want to be and feeling good for the last mile,” starts Kirby.
“It’s good to see, (Peckham and Thorsett) like to go out fast and I’ve seen that all year. It’s seem like I’ve gotten a little closer to them most of the races, today they’ve had me. Hopefully by districts I can hang with them and see what happens.”
Freshman Hope Bridge on the other hand had ousted teammate Hailey Notman from the top of the record books, shattering Notman’s 5K record set in 2017 by 14 seconds in her eighth-place finish Wednesday leading into her first High School District Race.
“It’s pretty cool and I’m excited for districts and see how I can do, how hard I can go. In the bigger (races) there’s faster people and so you can stick with them,” said Bridges. “Look at them and like ‘I have to stick with them’ and it helps me just go faster. Just really pushed yourself.
“It’s really cool to see just where your at to start with for Districts, just to see where your at so you can pace yourself.”
Notman finished 13th with a time of 19:50.70. Sisters Ella Thorsett (second), Hannah Hernandez (third) and Kate Brown (sixth) finished in front of them from the Oregon West Conference entering the District Meet November 2 now with an opportunity to heal up and prepare for the biggest race of the year.
“Just giving my body rest, still working but giving my body rest so it’ll be nice to be at my full strength when it gets there,” said Bridges.