Columbia Christian senior Makena Houston has raced sparingly this season, competing in only two official meets so far.
Houston still has the top time for 3A/2A/1A girls by a wide margin, running 17:31.3 to win the Harvest Classic on Oct. 2.
“It’s been by design. We’ve been real careful,” Columbia Christian coach Kevin Yaws said. “We don’t like to race a lot because of her heavy training schedule. We are training more towards track than cross country, because that is where we are hoping she peaks.”
Houston ran a solo virtual 5,000-meter race on the track last Saturday, clocking a new personal-record time of 17:19.7.
“She ran real easy and she wasn’t happy,” Yaws said. “Because we really wanted to see her go under 17-minutes.”
Houston is no stranger to fast times. She won the 3A/2A/1A Showcase meet in April by more than a minute. She also had the fastest 2A girls times on the track in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters last spring.
In August, she ran 9:52.8 for 3,000 on the track during a virtual meet, good for the second-fastest time out of all divisions in Oregon last year.
Houston will be competing in the Special District 1 meet on Friday at Sherwood Middle School. Yaws is just hoping she comes out of the district meet healthy and ready for state.
“I just want her to go out and run it and be done with that course and ready for state,” Yaws said. “There are no spikes and bad ground.”
Houston has vastly improved since the last official cross country season in 2019, when she finished 10th at district and failed to qualify for the state meet. Yaws said she was capable of running faster that day, but wasn’t mentally ready.
“It’s just convincing her how fast she really is,” Yaws said. “It was about building confidence and getting her feeling good about her running.”
Houston has improved greatly in the two seasons since, and weather permitting, the 2A course record of 18:20 could go down in Eugene on Nov. 6.
All of the district meets for all classifications will be held on Wednesday through Saturday this week.
A look at other meets last week:
Pioneer Run, at McLoughlin HS in Milton Freewater, Wednesday
Girls -- La Grande sophomores Emily Tubbs (18:57.3) and Kia Carlson (19:01.9) went 1-2 to lead the Tigers to the team title. Team Scores: La Grande 22, Baker 35.
Boys -- Baker juniors Thaddeus Pepera (18:06.79) and Jordan Mills (18:15.7) went 1-2, leading the Bulldogs to the team title. Team Scores; Baker 25, La Grande 40, McLoughlin 57, Ontario 100.
Logger Invite, at Knappa HS, Wednesday
Girls -- Neah-Kah-Nie senior Jordan White picked up the individual victory in 20:01, while sophomore Delaney Draeger led Vernonia to the team title (second in 20:18).
Boys -- Knappa junior Isaiah Rodriguez claimed victory in 16:41 to lead the Loggers to the team title. Warrenton senior Zander Moha was second in 17:09. Team Scores: Knappa 37, Vernonia 67, Neah-Kah-Nie 90, Estacada 91, Warrenton 106, Rainier 116.
Umpqua Invite, at Stewart Park in Roseburg, Wednesday
Girls -- Sheldon sophomore Katryn Gilbert claimed the win in 19:09.50, ahead of North Eugene sophomore Artana Nice in 19:28.30 and Bandon senior Holly Hutton (third in 19:42.00). Team Scores (Top 4): Oregon City 54, Roseburg 72, Sheldon 103, Bandon 108.
Boys -- Sheldon swept the top three places to dominate the team race. Irish junior Jonah Donde was first in 15:33.50, ahead of junior Evan Poulsen (16:08.50) and sophomore Adam Reeder (16:10.20). Team Scores (Top 4): Sheldon 29, Roseburg 79, Oregon City 119, Springfield 125.
Valiant Invitational, at Valley Catholic HS in Beaverton, Thursday
Girls -- Valley Catholic junior Maslin Singer got the win over the 3K course in 11:30.80, ahead of Catlin Gabel junior Megan Cover (11:33.30). Team Scores (Top 4): Valley Catholic 38, Catlin Gabel 85, St. Stephen’s Academy 109, Oregon Episcopal 115.
Boys -- The Dalles junior Juan Diego Contreras got the win over the 3K course in 9:13.58. St. Stephen’s Academy senior Collin Friend was second in 9:17.50. Team Scores (Top 4): Valley Catholic 53, The Dalles 69, Astoria 104, Oregon Episcopal 113.
Gold Rush Run, at 7th Street Complex in John Day, Thursday
Girls -- Burns senior Olivia Winn got the individual victory in 20:33.7 and Union ran to the team title with five in the top 17 places. Madras junior Hannah Macduffee was second in 20:59.0, ahead of La Pine junior Ashley Jentzsch (21:06.8). Team Scores (Top 4): Union 43, Burns 69, Enterprise 78, Imbler 107.
Boys -- Enterprise senior Zac Knapp continued his undefeated season with the individual victory in 15:34.2 leading the Outlaws to the team title. Pine Eagle senior Caleb Brown was second in 16:09.7, ahead of Heppner junior Trevor Nichols (16:13.5). Team Scores (Top 4): Enterprise 36, Union 52, Burns 61, Heppner 91.
Olalla Valley Golf Course, in Toledo, Saturday
Girls -- Philomath freshman Adele Beckstead got a close victory in 20:09, ahead of Newport senior Aliyah Larsen (20:14). Philomath won the team title with 21 points, beating Newport (51) and Taft (64).
Boys -- Newport seniors Sam Laurel (17:13) and James Lackey (17:22) went 1-2 to lead the Cubs to the team title with 18 points. Philomath was second with 53, ahead of Taft (61) and Waldport (100).