A Vale runner pushes through his first lap at the Dash n' Splash meet Thursday, Aug. 29. (The Enterprise/Isabella Garcia)

VALE — For Vale cross country athletes, the season builds up to districts, not state.

“To be honest, our districts is probably harder than state,” said Vale coach Mary Chamberlain. Chamberlain is confident in her runners in the face of that challenge. 

Two of Vale’s 11 boys, Casyen Young and Dylan Williams, trained this summer at Steens Running Camp – a high altitude running camp near Burns.

“We feel very strongly that they have a run at state,” Chamberlain said. “They will be in the top ten and hopefully in the top five.”

The girls team is also preforming well. Chamberlain sees seven strong female runners, which means there is a high probability of the Lady Vikings finishing “5 deep” – they will “swarm the finish line” and be the five of the first finishers.

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Nyssa’s cross country team competes in the same district as Vale and coach Ann Fournier is hoping for a strong performance at districts. 

“Ciara Duenez is definitely a girl to watch, as she was one of the female top runners in middle school last year,” Fournier wrote in an email. The second-year coach also pointed out senior Olivia Page as the top performing runner for Nyssa’s team of three.

The Bulldogs boys team has nine runners with senior Myo Castro clocking in the fastest times. Fournier anticipates Anthony Bieker and Kelvin Pascacio to also perform well at districts.

“As an underdog, we have our eye on all the other districts,” Fournier wrote.

The Ontario cross country team is under new direction. Jose Marquez is a first-time coach, but is passionate about the sport from his time running cross country in his hometown of Vale.

“I say ‘Go Tigers’ now,” Marquez said. 

Marquez is looking forward to the Crosby Invitational, the only home meet that the Tigers have. Ontario is going to host 50 teams, according to Marquez, on Oct. 3 at Treasure Valley Community College.

For the small team of Tigers – 11 boys and 7 girls – it’s about being better than yourself, the coach said.

“Cross country is one of those sports that make you grow as a person,” Marquez said. 

For Four Rivers Community School’s boys’ cross country team, it’s all about teamwork. 

“We’re really focusing on being a strong team,” coach Zoila Mason said. 

The boys team of seven is young, but they’ve been running together for a while now through junior prep. While each runner wants to succeed as an individual, Mason said that they are also focused on strategy so they can score high as a team.

“I’m really excited about their energy,” Mason said. 

With the introduction of a girls’ soccer team at Four Rivers, Mason lost all of her female runners. 

“All of my girls decided to try soccer,” Mason said. 

The Adrian Antelopes will run in the same district as Four Rivers. This year the team has six boys and four girls participating in cross country. 

Have a news tip? Reporter Isabella Garcia: isabellagenterprise@gmail.com or 541-473-3377.

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