Evergreen Storm taking large team to regional Junior Olympics

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Forty members of the Evergreen Storm Track Club will compete at the USA Track and Field Region 13 Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

The regional meet will take place at Western Oregon University in Monmouth and will qualify runners for the national championship meet on Dec. 14 in San Antonio, Texas.

The Storm runners qualified for the regionals with strong performances at the Pacific Northwest Association championships, which took place Nov. 16 at Woodland Park in Seattle.

Nine Storm runners posted top-10 finishes to earn medals at the meet in Seattle, and the Evergreen's 46 entries was the most for the meet that involved runners and clubs from around western Washington. The Storm teams in the 13-14 age division led the way, with both the girls and the boys finishing second as a team.

In the 13-14 girls race, seven Storm runners were among the top 18 finishers as the team finished two points behind Whatcom Tesseract in team scoring. Emily Wilson finished fifth with a time of 15 minutes and 25 seconds over a 4,000-meter course. Serena Smith was sixth in 15:55 and Ashlin O'Neil was 10th in 16:05.

For the boys 13-14 team, Samuel Johnson finished the 4,000 meters in 14:11 for fourth place, and Kyle Cooper finished sixth in 14:16.

In the boys 15-16 age division, Jordan Moore took third place in 18:03. The race covered 5,000 meters.

In the 11-12 age division, Gabe Dinnel finished second in the boys 3,000-meter race with a time of 11:05.

In the 9-10 age group, two Evergreen Storm runners were among the top 10. Sydnee Dyer finished third in 12:59 and Olivia Dinnel ninth in 13:13.

Evergreen Storm Track Club founder Scott Slamp said that runners from 24 Clark County schools represented the Storm in Seattle. This is the first time the club has fielded boys teams for cross country.

"Most of our runners were running their distances for the first time and we have so much to build on," Slamp said.

Teams that place in the top five or runners among the top 35 in their race at the regionals Nov. 23 are eligible to compete at the nationals. Slamp said the Storm intends to enter at least some runners in the nationals.