Union middle school runners take second in Athena

By Observer staff October 16, 2012 12:58 pm

ATHENA —  Union’s middle school runners finished second to Sunridge in the Eastern Oregon invitational girls division competition Friday.

Sunridge of Pendleton won both the boys and girls division titles. The girls claimed a 23-point win, followed by Union with 50 and Stanfield with 70 points.

In the boys competition, only Sunridge and Helix had enough runners in the race to qualify for team scores. Sunridge put four runners in the top 10 on their way to a 15-point win total, while Helix had a total of 49 points.

Union only had four runners in the race, led by Jason Blackburn’s third-place finish in 11:31.8. Jeremy Baxter and Alex Graffunder took eighth and ninth place, with times of 12:31 and 12:43, respectively.

Sixth-grader Matthew Sheehy placed 13th in 14:02.1 for the 3,000-meter course.

Weston’s Hayden Scott continued to dominate the regional races, winning the individual title witha time of 10:19.2 — more than a minute ahead o the second place finisher from Stanfield, Carlos Flores.

On the girls side, Union put two runners in the top three, but it wasn’t enough to defuse the pack attack of Sunridge -- taking first and also the next five places behind the Union pair of runners to easily win the race.

Sunridge’s Emily Driskel won the race in 12:45.2, with Kathryn Sheehy (second, 13:21.9) and Abriel O’Reilly (third, 13:32.6) reakng up the Sunridge tsunami

Ashley Scott (13th, 14:48.5), Ashley Ricker (16th, 15:11.2), Gracee Montgomery (21st, 15:39.8) and Lizzie Verhelst (22nd, 15:46.8) rounded out the rest of the Union squad finishing the race.

According to Steve Sheehy, the team was very competitive at Athena.

“We had some younger runners really step up.  Jason Blackburn had an exceptional last 600 meters of his race, moving up from fifth to third. He looked great doing it.

“We’ve been working with Jason on some of his racing tactics, and he is really starting to run well.

“Kathryn Sheehy was second overall in the girls race, running a very smart race for the second week in a row.  She worked very hard for position early in the race, and it paid off for her.  Sixth grade standout Abriel O’Reilly was third, also running well.