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Oregon, Polo race against Rockford Christian

OREGON – The Oregon and Polo cross country teams had a tall task ahead of them on Tuesday afternoon— keeping pace with hungry packs of Royal Lions.

Rockford Christian, one of the top programs in northern Illinois, flexed its muscles in a triangular at the reconfigured 3.1-mile course at Oregon Park West, winning both races without too much difficulty.

The girls race was the closest of the two. Rockford Christian finished with 24 points, 12 fewer than Oregon. Polo was third with 74.

The Hawks were paced by Leah Watters, who placed third with a time of 23 minutes, 2.5 seconds. She was bested by a pair of Royal Lions in Kelly Giardina (21:49) and Emma Joiner (22:50).

“I need to push harder to stay with the people ahead of me so then as I’m going through the race, I can pass some more,” Watters said. “I probably let them get too far ahead of me at the beginning, instead of trying to stay with them. That slowed me down, I think.”

The other counting scores for Oregon came from Faith Marquardt (5th, 23:34), Katlyn Ramirez (7th, 23:41), Jennica Ciesel (10th, 25:15) and Katelyn Bowers (11th, 25:21).

Rounding out the lineup were Ellen Hodson (15th, 25:59), Ava Wight (18th, 27:36), Lydia Cermak (19th, 27:48), Valerie Nyderek (21st, 28:19), McKenna Tremble (23rd, 28:56), Teagan Champley (27th, 31:47), Hadley Lutz (28th, 31:51), Taylar Rufer (30th, 32:17), Grace Tomlinson (31st, 32:55), Abigail Tomlinson (32nd, 33:22), Ella Martin (33rd, 36:47) and Hailee Taylor (34th, 37:01).

Polo was led by Rebekah Zeigler, who was sixth in 23:38, and got her first taste of running in Oregon.

“I’m not too disappointed,” Zeigler said. “Obviously conditions weren’t super ideal. It’s kind of hot for running today. Their course is nice, though. There were stretches we enjoyed. We just came from Eastland, and their course is up and down, up and down. This was different from any course I’ve run, and I had a fun time.”

Also competing for the Marcos were Elleanna Wells (16th, 26:13), Linnea Sundman (17th, 26:24), Teah Almasy (20th, 28:03) and Kaylee Lowry (25th, 30:37).

On the boys side, Rockford Christian had a perfect score of 15, and had the first eight runners to cross the finish line. Stephen Thomas won a time of 19:26, 2 seconds faster than D’Artagnon Beaver.

Oregon (60 points) edged Polo (65) for second place.

For the Hawks, leading the way was Ryan Hussung, who was 10th in 20:12.

“I was basically just thinking stick with the Rockford Christian kids and see what happened,” Hussung said. “I was happy with how I ran, but it was 20 seconds slower than our last meet. I’ve got some work to do.”

Rounding out the Oregon lineup were Gavin Bradshaw (14th, 21:00), Austin Ebert (15th, 21:04), Leo Cardenas (16th, 21:07), Grant Stender (21st, 22:26), Lane Halverson (25th, 24:54) and Nicholas Meives-Wylie (27th, 27:04).

The first Polo runner across the finish line was Carson Jones, who was 9th in 20:02.

“We knew coming in Rockford Christian was a pretty decent team,” Jones said. “They have an established program. I’m glad to see where I stand with Rockford Christian and with Oregon.”

Also competing for the Marcos were Wyatt Queckboerner (11th, 20:16), Avery Grenoble (20th, 22:14), Carter Merdian (23rd, 23:11) and Ben Plachno (24th, 23:12).