Strong turnout, prospects for Cedarcrest runners

Cedarcrest cross country captains include Cara Strodel, Jessica Beam, Josh Denison, Chad Linnerooth and Mitchell Montgomery. - Courtesy Photo
Cedarcrest cross country captains include Cara Strodel, Jessica Beam, Josh Denison, Chad Linnerooth and Mitchell Montgomery.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Cedarcrest High’s cross country team returns as a strong local contender in the Cascade Conference.

Last season, the Red Wolves took first out of seven teams in the Cascade championships, first out of 14 teams in the Northwest District Championships and third of 16 teams in the 2A state championships.

Top returning athletes include senior Cara Strodel, who took sixth at state last year and 10th in 2008 and 2007.

“Cara is looking to make the podium for the fourth time in cross country,” said coach Bruce McDowell, who returns for his 18th season.

Other strong returners include seniors Jessica Beam and Tia Smith.

Top newcomers to varsity status include freshman runners Diana Carr and Amelia Anderson.

“They’re a good bunch of runners who have started to figure out what it takes to make the bump to the next level of running,” McDowell said.

The team is not as deep as in previous years, but the Red Wolves remain the team to beat in the conference, which is improving this season. McDowell expects Cedarcrest to be the favorite for a conference title and to contend for a state trophy.

Boys outlook

The Red Wolf boys cross country contingent returns a big chunk of last year’s varsity squad, including the top three runners.

The Cedarcrest boys team took fourth of seven teams in the Cascade Conference last season, and eighth of 14 teams in the Northwest district championships.

“The team has had a really productive summer of training,” McDowell said. “The team has the potential to be a state qualifier.”

Top returners this season include seniors Josh Denison and Chad Linnerooth, juniors Mitchell Montgomery and Dante Bournique and sophomore Cody Wanichek.

Newcomers claiming varsity status include sophomore Dominic Dams and freshman Logan Orndorf.

The conference is solid, McDowell said, containing several strong opponents. Still, fans can look for the Red Wolf boys to be one of the top contenders in the Cascades.

“Josh, Mitchell and Chad will need to make that move to the top tier of individual runners,” McDowell said.

McDowell’s goal is for athletes to run to their potential, while having the time of their lives.

“There is more to cross country than running,” he said. “We continue to incorporate a family approach to our team.

“After they leave the program, our goal is for them to become life-long runners,” the coach added. “We coach for all of the levels of runners.”

Recent Cedarcrest grads competing in college running this season include freshman Missy Dowd at Lipscomb University, Tenn., Sara Hoppe and A. Chittenden at Evergreen State College, and Hayden Teachout at Southern Oregon University.

Assistant Dean Vergillo is in his fourth year at Cedarcrest.

Learn more about the Cedarcrest program at Page/cross.htm.

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