PASCO - Both, Sunnyside's Jesus Marquez and Vanesa Quiroz garnered 31st place finishes at last Saturday's Pasco Bulldog Cross-Country Invitational.
Competing on a 5,000-meter course, the sophomore Marquez clocked a time of 18:14 in the boys varsity race. Quiroz, a junior, set a time of 22:49 in the girls varsity race.
Team-wise, the Sunnyside boys placed eighth from the 11 "large school" entries. The Grizzlies tallied 183 points, which bested Kennewick (211), Wenatchee (234) and Othello (244). The lowest scoring team was the Kamiakin Braves with 32 points, with Hanford placing second with 91 points.
The varsity boys race winner proved to be Kamiakin senior Austin Oser. He sped across the 5,000-meter course in a time of 16:18, 11 seconds quicker than the runner-up, Waitsburg senior Seth Deal.
Marquez's 18:14 clocking was 18 seconds quicker than the second Sunnyside runner to cross the finish line...senior Manuel Dimas (18:32). Coming in third, fourth and fifth for the Grizzly boys were Alvin Lopez (19:24), Eduardo Cuevas (19:46) and Christian Ruiz (19:56).
In the girls varsity race, Quiroz crossed the finish line for Sunnyside nearly four minutes back of the winner...Kamiakin junior Megan Beauchene (18:52). Beauchene bested the runner-up, Cheney's Sanne Holland, by five seconds.
Besides Quiroz representing Sunnyside in the girls varsity competition, the Lady Grizzlies had at their disposal junior Kayla Gonzalez, 54th in 23:43; freshman Jeniya Guillen, 68th in 24:45; sophomore Claudia Rivera, 72nd in 25:16; and junior Briseida Soberanes, 87th in 27:00.
Sunnyside Coach George Paulus said two of the reasons his club didn't grab anything better than a 31st place individual finish were the "experience factor" and that more runners were entered in this year's Pasco invite, due to the cancellation of the Sunfair invite in Yakima because of poor air conditions.
"A lot of these schools have athletes who spend the summer months running. We don't," he said. "It doesn't help that we don't have a cross-country program at the middle school level, either."
On the plus side, said Paulus, he believes his Grizzlies are heading in the right direction, closing the gap on teams that are finishing ahead of Sunnyside at the meets.
"We're getting better. Our times are coming down," he said.
Bickleton Coach Darrell Lang opted not to enter any of his boys in the varsity race. Instead, he had seniors Peter Clinton and Joshua Cummings compete in the 5000-meter junior varsity race for juniors and seniors.
Clinton gave a good accounting of himself, placing third from the 88-runner field with a clocking of 18:33. The winner, junior Will Gillen of Kamiakin, posted a time of 17:53.
Cummings placed 72nd for Bickleton in a time of 24:13.
Lang had four harriers entered in the 5,000-meter junior varsity race for freshmen and sophomores. The Pirates' top finisher in that race was freshman Troy Roberts, who placed ninth with a clocking of 19:34, which was a minute and 28 seconds back of the winner, Kamiakin's Brendan Despain.
Bickleton has no girls on its cross-country team this fall.