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La Grande’s Amanda Welch won the Dry Side Shootout with a time of 19:19, while McLoughlin’s Josie Lonai (background) was second with a time of 19:35.20. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
Amanda Welch pulled away from McLoughlin’s Josie Lonai in the final mile to win the Dry Side Shootout cross country Saturday at Eastern Oregon University.
It just wasn’t enough to get La Grande better than a third place finish in the team race.
The La Grande sophomore won the title in 19:19, a big drop over her time from a year ago, according to meet director Ben Welch, her father and the cross country coach at EOU.
Lonai still came away with a win as the Lady Pioneers edged Enterprise by just one point (36-37) for the team title. The McLoughlin sophomore just had to settle for a second place individual finish with a time of 19:35.20. The Lady Pioneers’ Suzie Romero-Diaz came in third (12:51.70) just ahead of Enterprise’s Hannah Graf (fourth, 20:55.90).
Monument’s Maya Thomas took fifth with a time of 20:57.10, while Linsey Van Doozer of Enterprise followed in sixth (22:10.10), just ahead of La Grande’s Jackie Wanta in 22:22.70.
Dawn Mist Movich Field of Enterprise came in eighth (22:37.30) to put three Lady Outlaws ahead of McLoughlin’s third runner in the duel for the team title. McLoughlin’s Kristi Childers was ninth in 22:45.20, while Enterprise’s Whitney Reimer was 10th in 23:18.40.
Reimer’s finish gave the Lady Outlaws a chance to catch up to the Lady Pioneers and the scoring impact of Mcloughlin’s top two runners in second and third place overall. Enterprise did put five scorers in front of McLoughlin’s fifth runner, helped by Hanna Maria Evindson in 13th place (23:56.90), as the final scorer.
The only problem was that although it cut the scoring difference between McLoughlin and Enterprise down to one point, the Outlaws needed two more points to edge the 4A school.
The Outlaws needed help from La Grande.
La Grande had Grace Riddle place 12th (23:47.20), right behind McLoughlin’s Cristian Lara (11th, 23:45.20). Jesica Timm was 15th in 25:55.80, while Laney Wood placed 16th in 26:06.40. If any of the three Lady Tigers has beaten the McLoughlin runners, the score would have been tied. If two of the La Grande runners had beaten their nearest Pioneer rivals, Enterprise would have won the team title.
“They all ran PRs (personal records) today,” La Grande coach Talia Welch said.
“Jackie really had a great breakthrough. She really stepped it up and did really well for the first time this year. She has been worried about not feeling good. But she came through today,” Welch added.
Enterprise entered the race short-handed, without one of their top runners, so the narrow finish still pleased Outlaw coach Dan Moody.
The course around the EOU athletic complex was a good course because of all the grass, the La Grande coach added. “It is all soft.”
The La Grande squad was also building up their knowledge of their home course since the school will be hosting the Greater Oregon League district meet later this season.
“We got to come in here a couple of days ahead of time and run on it so they knew where everything was. That just gives them confidence. They feel the race is a little more under their control when they know the course well.
“It just gives them more confidence to know that they are on their home field. Their families are here. Everyone is watching. It just gives them a little more lift,” Welch added.
When the district meet comes to EOU Oct. 27, the Tigers will have the advantages of not travelling, being at home and knowing the course.
The Enterprise team is prepping for the Blue Mounain Conference district meet in order to earn a berth in the state championship race in early November.
According to Moody, the Outlaws were shorthanded.
“We were missing our number three runner (Natalie Reimer). Her sister Whitney — they are twins — stepped up for us. Not having her (Natalie) hurt us a little bit,” he added. But Moody admitted he is focusing his team on doing well at the district meet in Pendleton’s Community Park Oct. 26.