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Austin Burns (above) of Enterprise leads La Grande’s Eliott Jonasson and Noah McLean through first mile Saturday in a battle for second place during the Dry Side Shootout on the Eastern Oregon University campus. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
David Ribich of Enterprise had a big margin from start to finish Saturday, easily winning the Dry Side Shootout boys invitational cross country race at Eastern Oregon University.
The Outlaw junior moved out to the lead right from the start on the new 5,000-meter course that circled the university’s soccer, softball and football practice areas on the south side of the campus.
Two La Grande runners, Elliot Jonasson and Noah McLean, gave chase, along with Austin Burns of Enterprise, but after the first half-mile of the 3.1-mile race, Burns was more focused on a battle with the pair of Tigers.
Ribich went on to win the race in 16:08.20, setting a new course record, while both Jonasson and McLean finally pulled ahead of Burns in the final mile. Jonasson placed second in 17:17, while McLean was third in 17:32.
According to La Grande coach Talia Welch, McLean was a question mark because of some health problems going into the race. “We didn’t know for sure what he was going to be able to do,” she said, after the race. “He did great.
“I think we are right where we need to be in the middle of the season,” she added.
Even though La Grande only had three runners in the boys varsity race, Welch felt her squad did well. “We got two-three.”
Burns had to settle for fourth in 17:40, but he led two other Outlaws across the line to give Enterprise four of the top six finishers in the race. Alex Tyler was fifth in 18:07.90, while Wil Story placed sixth in 18:36.60. That also gave the Outlaws four runners ahead of McLoughlin’s top finisher Cody Harmon (seventh, 18:52.80.
Harmon’s finish was just enough to ruin the Enterprise chances for getting a perfect score of 15 in the invitational.
But the Pioneers had no chance against Ribich. “He was determined to win,” said Enterprise coach Dan Moody after the meet. “It looked to me like we were a little faster in the first mile than we planned. In about two more weeks, we will be ready for it.”
Instead, Enterprise had to settle for just a 16-40 winning margin over the Pioneers. La Grande only fielded three runners, with Shay Henderson taking 16th in 23:10.80. The team needed two more finishers to qualify for team scoring.
Masahiro Yamamoto placed eighth in 18:57.40 to give Enterprise its final scoring runner and he was able to hold off McLoughlin’s Chandler Simpson by less than a second to prevent the Pioneers from forcing the Outlaw score upwards.
Eric Swendiman was 12th overall (19:38.90) for Enterprise, followed by Christopher Warnock in 14th (20:33.90).
Monument had one runner competing, Wilson Dailey, who placed 15th overall (22:56).
Enterprise will be heading to Milton-Freewater to compete in the Gutbuster invitational Friday.