EAST WENATCHEE - Sunnyside High School's senior contingent powered the Grizzly boys cross-country team at the Columbia Basin Big Nine 3A League opener yesterday afternoon.
Hosted by the Eastmont Wildcats, Thursday's meet featured all eight of the 3A schools in the Big Nine. Sunnyside's boys won four of the seven head-to-head match-ups.
The Grizzly boys bested the host Wildcats (21-37), the Hanford Falcons (23-33), the Kennewick Lions (22-36) and the Pasco Bulldogs (19-40). Sunnyside's boys fell to West Valley (25-32), Kamiakin (18-45) and Southridge (27-28).
Eastmont's 5,000-meter, primarily flat course features a mostly grass terrain that has just one large hill.
The Grizzlies' top finisher in the varsity field, which included 53 runners in all, was senior Juan Reynoso. He sped to a clocking of 16:47, eighth fastest among the boys.
Sunnyside's top four finishers, like Reynoso, were seniors. Nathan Gonzalez, Reyes Cuevas and Omar Cantu placed 11th, 24th and 27th, respectively, with clockings of 17:02, 17:49 and 18:02.
Also competing for the Grizzly boys varsity squad were juniors Eduardo Cuevas (34th place in 18:23), Alvin Lopez (35th place in 18:31) and Christian Ruiz (48th place in 19:58).
SHS Coach George Paulus said his Grizzlies are still a ways off from turning in their best times.
"We didn't run a lot this past summer, so we're still developing our race pace.
"We're taking a different approach this season. We're not putting in as many miles early on. We're gradually building up our mileage.
"We're doing lots of interval work...short distance sprints, that type of thing.
"We're looking at better days ahead. Hopefully, we'll peak at the end of the season," Paulus said.
The Kamiakin Braves, who went 7-0 in their seven head-to-head match-ups Thursday afternoon, were the class of the field. Kamiakin had the top two individual finishers in the 5,000-meter race in Anthony Armstrong (14:57) and Keegan McCormick (16:07). The Braves also had five other runners who earned Top 10 finishes.
West Valley, 6-1 on the day in the dual meet scoring, was led by senior Chase Mears. He posted the third fastest time with a clocking of 16:15. The next highest finish by a Ram was a 14th place showing, turned in by sophomore Justin Irvine (17:17).
The 3A varsity girls race drew a total of 48 runners. Kamiakin again ran away from the competition, grabbing the top three individual placings and six of the Top 10 individual showings. The Braves' Stephanie Rexus had the fastest time, a clocking of 18:23.
Sunnyside's varsity contingent, led by the 30th place individual showing of sophomore Kayla Gonzalez, was 2-4 in its six head-to-head match-ups.
Only seven girls teams were at Thursday's meet, as Pasco did not field a squad, which gave Sunnyside a 15-50 victory over the Bulldogs.
The one other victory in the dual meet scoring for the Lady Grizzlies came against Kennewick, a 24-31 decision.
Besides Gonzalez's overall 30th place finish in a time of 23:02, Sunnyside received performances from sophomore Betsy Reynoso (34th place in 23:36), sophomore Griselda Diaz (37th place in 25:10), sophomore Fabiola Equihua (44th place in 26:45), senior Dezma Hernandez (47th place in 29:11) and senior Yunuenn Garcia (48th place in 29:16).
Yesterday's action also included a 124-runner boys junior varsity race. Senior Eric Espindola was the top finisher for Sunnyside, placing 27th in a time of 18:58. The boys JV race winner was Kamiakin junior Christian Rodriguez with a clocking of 17:00.
The SHS cross-country squads are next scheduled to compete at the Apple Ridge Invitational hosted by Highland High School this coming Saturday.