ROYAL CITY - "Little Pre," as he is called by Bickleton High School Coach Darrell Lang, turned in another solid performance for the Pirates cross country team yesterday afternoon.
Competing at a Valley 'A' high school meet in Royal City, Bickleton eighth grader Junior Hernandez earned a seventh place finish to lead the Pirate contingent. Nicknamed in honor of legendary long distance runner Steve Prefontaine, Hernandez clocked a noteworthy time of 18:39 on the 3.1-mile course. That was just a minute and 18 seconds back of the boys race winner-Royal City's Luke Tonnemaker, who finished in 17:21.
Lang was impressed with Hernandez's performance yesterday, especially considering how the eighth grader tackled "The Steps," the killer quarter-mile upgrade on the Royal City course that more times than not takes the steam out of the competitors' legs.
"He ran the hill extremely well," said Lang. "I saw him pass one runner on the hill and then finish in a strong time for seventh out of 42 runners."
The Pirates also got a more than decent performance from Cody Loomis. The sophomore sped to a clocking of 19:51, which earned him a top-half-of-the-field finish, 16th overall.
"The rest of the boys are working to improve their conditioning as we approach mid-season," said Lang, adding he expects to start seeing some bigger gains in terms of lower finishing times.
In addition to Hernandez and Loomis representing Bickleton in Tuesday's boys race, the Pirates got a 32nd place finish from Tyler Jensen (23:00), Orion Yoesle placed 37th in 23:48, Jared Spalding finished 39th in 25:08 and James Rasmussen hit the finish line in 40th place with a clocking of 25:38.
Bickleton's lone female runner this season, freshman Danielle Raschko, turned in a spirited performance yesterday. She placed eighth overall with a clocking of 23:50. The winner, Granger's Andrea Lloyd, won with a time of 20:17.
"I thought Danielle had one of her better races," Lang said, noting she continues to show steady improvement as she is learning to run a faster pace and respond to competition.
"She ran the hill very well and had a fair kick to finish the last 400 meters," Lang added.
The Pirates are scheduled to competed at the Big Cross invite in Pasco this coming Saturday.