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Ribich leads teammates in title chase at Eugene gold
David Ribich, a junior at Enterprise, is competing in the Nike Border Clash this weekend in Beaverton. EMMA SHEEHY photo
David Ribich and the Wallowa County boys cross country team went to the state meet and came home with trophies for their effort. The team took third and Ribich placed second on the Lane Community College course in Eugene.
Ribich has come on strong since he started racing in junior high, but it was different then.
He was the only boy on the team.
“It wasn’t a lot of fun going to the start line by myself,” said Ribich. “I run cross country for the team aspect — the team is what drives it.”
Ribich gets his sense of team from playing soccer most of his life. As a kid, he dreamed of playing collegiate soccer, but the region doesn’t offer soccer in the schools, so he started running track and cross country.
All that running up and down the field prepared him for racing.
“You adapt to what you’re good at,” said Ribich.
His first year in high school Ribich suffered a stress fracture right before the district meet. As a sophomore, he came back strong and qualified for state.
This year, he took the team with him.
He said the course at Lane seemed faster this year, and his time reflected that — he finished 12 seconds faster this year in a time of 16:20.
“Our team is like a family and everyone wants to be the big sibling. We push each other...”
— David Ribich
His first trip to state was so inspiring, he said this year he was focused on the team going to state.
He said he wanted to congratulate the Union boys and girls teams for taking the state team titles, kids he runs with almost every week during the season.
Coach Dan Moody had more than 30 kids come out this year and said they like to come to practice and work hard.
But running is more than work. There’s a lot of camaraderie as well.
Ribich finished 88th with a time of 17:00.7 in the Northwest Nike Regional meet in Boise Saturday. His rival from the Oregon state meet, Nick Oblentz, was 16th in 16:07.2.
Joe Hardy, the 3A cross country titlist from Washington’s Seattle Prep, won the meet with a time of 15:30.1.
There were athletes from seven states competing in the meet.
On Saturday, he will race with the Oregon team at the Nike Border Clash at their campus in Beaverton.
He said some of the team members have been running with him, even though the season is over.
“Our team is like a family and everyone wants to be the big sibling. We push each other,” said Ribich.
For the next few months Ribich is taking time off from distance training to play basketball. By spring he’ll switch directions again, and start training for track season.
Like any athlete, Ribich has goals.
He went to state in both the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters last year and holds the school record in the 3,000.
Beyond personal bests and school records, he has his eye on a running career through college and beyond.
Ribich said Oregon Olympian Galen Rupp is his idol, after Steve Prefontaine, of course.
Those are big shoes to fill, but at 16, he’s got plenty of time to grow into them.