By Brian Rathbone

The Bulletin

Summit’s runners had a plan they wanted to execute Friday at the Oxford Classic.

The reigning state, regional and national girls cross-country champs wanted to run as a pack, at least for the first couple of miles.

Throughout the 5,000-meter course, all went according to plan.

“It was really gratifying to look behind my shoulder and to see all my teammates and Teaghan (Knox) who was running with me the whole time,” said Summit senior Fiona Max, who was first to cross the finish line in the girls varsity race in a time of 18 minutes, 0.63 seconds. “It’s like a bunch of sisters out there.”

All seven Summit entries — Knox (second), Isabel Max (fourth), Jasper Fievet (fifth), Barrett Justema (seventh), Stella Skovborg (ninth) and Azza Swanson (10th) — finished in the top 10 to take the Oxford Classic crown with a score of 16 points.

With a score of 66 by the Summit boys, it was a Storm sweep at Drake Park in the 28th running of the Oxford meet. Sam Hatfield finished third to pace Summit.

It was the kind of results the Storm will look to continue with the Warner Pacific XC Classic in Portland two weeks away, and district and state meets on the horizon.

“It’s something that we want to replicate throughout the season,” Fiona Max said. “Staying tight on and off the course is such an important aspect of the team. That’s one of our goals is to tighten up our formation throughout the season.”

While Summit was heavily featured at the top of the girls standings, two other Central Oregon runners also cracked the top 10. Alexia Corona of Ridgevue High in Idaho was the lone non-Central Oregonian in the top 10 with a third-place finish.

Bend High freshman Olive Nye finished sixth in her first varsity run on the Drake Park course. Sisters’ Ella Thorsett, another freshman, finished two spots behind Nye.

Bend coach Lisa Nye is no stranger to the Oxford Classic, having run the race a generation ago when she was competing for the Mountain View High cross-country team. Watching her daughter Olive compete Friday created a little more angst than the race typically brings.

“Where it’s your daughter and is someone on your team, I may get a tiny bit nervous,” Lisa Nye said. “I thought she raced well, being a freshman trying to figure this race out and what it’s about. I thought she hung in there and ran tough, so I was proud of her for that.”

Racing in his final Oxford Classic and finishing second — the highest boys finisher from the local schools — was Bend’s Bennet Jackson, who finished second.

Sisters junior John Peckham was fourth. Also posting top-10 finishes among Central Oregon boys were Summit’s Mason Kissell (eighth), Sisters’ Will Thorsett (ninth) and Redmond’s Finn Anspach (10th).

Jackson also went into the race with a plan: conserve energy in the first mile (the easiest part of the course, according to runners and coaches), attack the hills, keep the leader in sight and be ready to kick on the homestretch.

“I’ve learned that everyone goes out hard, so you kind of have to stay back a little bit,” Jackson said. “Then you work the hills because people tend to die off on the hills and you are able to get some distance on them.”

He admittedly struggled to follow that rule, wishing he had stayed back in the pack a little longer.

Jackson spent most of the race chasing Ashland’s Reed Pryor, who won in 15:56.06. But Jackson (16:08.23) was more than pleased with his second-place finish, coming off a fifth-place Oxford finish a year ago.

“Overall I’m happy with it,” the senior said. “I think I could have run a little smarter, but overall it was a good race on a tough course, so I’m happy with it.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0307, brathbone@bendbulletin.com

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