Seton Catholic cross country coach Jaysun Pyatt had all the stars align for his girls team this year.
He added three talented freshman runners and returned an injured runner, all to complement a returner who finished third at state in 2019.
“And then, COVID,” Pyatt said.
Even though the Cougars weren’t able to measure themselves up against the top teams in the state, Pyatt said he still enjoyed watching his girls run over the past six weeks.
“Being able to watch them go out and compete, it’s just been awesome,” he said. “And they’ve exceeded all expectations. … For a short season, and running in February and March, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
On Friday, the Cougars put on a show, claiming the top four places in the 1A district meet at Harmony Sports Complex to run away with the team title. Seton outdistanced second-place La Center 16-48.
Freshman Alexis Leone beat out junior teammate Lara Carrion down the stretch to win in 18:11 for the individual title. Carrion finished in 18:12.
Carrion, who placed third at state in 2019, set the pace through much of the race.
“That’s just kind of how it worked out,” Leone said. “I think me and Lara were trying to work together. We have such a great team, so we each have like a little partner to try to push us. And my partner was Lara, and she did great and she helped do my best.”
Freshman Avery Garrison was third (19:37) and sophomore Sara Cordova was fourth (19:37). La Center’s Lauren Fox took fifth to prevent the Cougars from sweeping the top six spots. Alexandra Traffalis was sixth. Freshman Virginia Carrion finished seventh and didn’t score for her team. That’s how good the Cougars were.
La Center’s Joseph Blanshan didn’t have anyone to run with in the boys race, winning in 16:14. Seton’s Koen Ross was second, almost a minute behind in 17:05.
But that doesn’t mean Blanshan didn’t have help.
Blanshan’s brother Aaron, who is becoming a firefighter in LaPine, Ore., and friend Garrett Shapovalov, a former La Center runner, were there to cheer him on.
“They showed up and surprised me both, so it was game on,” Blanshan said. “Then it was kind of a different switch. They helped me through the last 800 meters and that made a huge difference.”
La Center’s Spencer Holm was fourth, followed by Degenet Pratt of King’s Way Christian. Seton’s Paulo Vidales (eight) and Gabriel Marcham (ninth) also had top-10 finishes as the Cougar boys made it a Seton sweep, beating out La Center for the team title 50-69.