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Comets cruise to first-ever SOC title

KLAMATH FALLS ' In the time it took him to cross the finish line and pirouette, Sam Jacobson went from competitor to cheerleader.

He had to move quickly, for two Crater teammates were on his heels Saturday at the Southern Oregon Conference cross country championships.

It's been that kind of season for the Comet boys, who romped to the school's first-ever cross country district title at Moore Park.

— In this all-for-one, one-for-all endeavor, they finish strong, then take great delight in celebrating their teammates' successes.

Runner-up Isaac Stoutenburgh was the first Comet in. Then came Jacobson in sixth, freshman Jake Keyser in seventh and Geoff Donaldson in eighth, prompting a high-five and hug fest at the end of the finishing chute.

We got four in the top eight! Jacobson exulted.

Moments later, he accosted Keyser.

Jake, he marveled, you are an animal! Seventh as a freshman!

Crater, ranked sixth in the state, was the heavy favorite going in and didn't disappoint, scoring 41 points to second-place Ashland's 62.

The top two teams and top seven individuals qualified for state next Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Only two runners apart from Crater and Ashland advanced: champion Kevin Pellegrino of host Klamath Union and fourth-place Trevor Hanlin of Grants Pass.

Coach Bob Julian of defending champion Ashland maintained that it would take a perfect race if a challenger was going to knock off the Comets.

We didn't have a perfect race, he said. Actually, Crater had a perfect race.

Not quite, but it wasn't bad.

After Pellegrino cruised in with a personal-best time of 16 minutes, 7.09 seconds on the 5,000-meter course that is distinguished by its level of difficulty, Stoutenburgh started the Comet parade.

Running alongside Andy Wright of Ashland for most of the race, Stoutenburgh pulled away as the two entered the last of the course's three pain-inducing hills.

We were together most of the race, said Stoutenburgh. I passed him and just kept going. I didn't want him to catch me.

Stoutenburgh's time was 16:18.14, or 28 seconds better than he ran at the pre-district meet over the same route in mid-September.

Pellegrino, too, had a PR of five seconds.

I wasn't feeling real good today, he said. I was definitely tired. I've been tapering so I'll be ready for next week. Basically, this was a little final tuneup for state.

Wright and Grizzly teammate David Morgan were third and fifth, respectively, with times of 16:34.59 and 16:49.06.

Then came Jacobson (16:58.21), Keyser (17:04.74) and Donaldson (17:07.26).

All three Comets improved on their pre-district placings and times, particularly Keyser and Donaldson.

Those guys really stepped up huge, said Crater coach Justin Loftus.

Although the Comets' other three runners cracked the top 25, the next-best placing was Greg Dallaire at 18.

I think they'll have a better race next week, Loftus said. When you get to state, it's all about that gap; you can't have that gap.

Still, it was hard to be too critical, as evidenced when Loftus gathered the team in a huddle and praised its members for doing something no one else had in three decades.

The coach admitted to being a little nervous before the race, unwilling to take anything for granted.

You always have doubts, he said. but those doubts push you, too.

In this case, they pushed the Comets to the top.

District Cross Country Championships

at Klamath Falls

5K Boys

TEAM RESULTS '

1, Crater, 41; 2, Ashland, 62; 3, Grants Pass, 83; 4, Klamath Union, 94; 5, South Medford, 100; 6, North Medford, 143; 7, Roseburg, 156.

INdivIDUAL RESULTS ' 1, Kevin Pellegrino, KU, 16:07.09; 2, Isaac Stoutenburgh, Cra, 16:18.14; 3, Andy Wright, Ash, 16:34.59; 4, Trevor Hanlin, GP, 16:47.84; 5, David Morgan, Ash, 16:49.06; 6, Sam Jacobson, Cra, 16:58.21; 7, Jake Keyser, Cra, 17:04.74; 8, Geoff Donaldson, Cra, 17:07.26; 9, Noah Lewis, SM, 17:11.70; 10, Zachary Harris, SM, 17:12.93; 11, Alex Jayne, KU, 17:23.73; 12, Chris McLean, SM, 17:25.35; 13, Spencer Bonney, Ash, 17:27.80; 14, David Oliver, NM, 17:36.37; 15, Gavin Weaver, Ros, 17:40.08; 16, Jamie Gunn, GP, 17:40.88; 17, Cameron Barleen, Ash, 17:41.33; 18, Greg Dallaire, Cra, 17:53.06; 19, Brandon Reavis, Cra, 17:55.44; 20, Matt Johnson, GP, 17:59.63; 21, Grant Margeson, GP, 18:01.39; 22, Bradley Higgins, GP, 18:01.79; 23, Luis Morelos, KU, 18:06.07; 24, Adam Trautman, Ash, 18:12.82; 25, Levi Jackson, Cra, 18:14.48; 26, David Levya, NM, 18:17.56; 27, Jake Wilton, Ros, 18:20.83; 28, Michael Scanlan, GP, 18:21.29; 29, Drew Crawford, KU, 18:24.71; 30, Dan Landrum, KU, 18:24.96; 31, Sam Curtis, NM, 18:25.95; 32, Mason Orlow, KU, 18:27.72; 33, Nathan Kobinsky, SM, 18:28.16; 34, Micah Flood, EP, 18:30.26; 35, Clint Huntley, NM, 18:32.12; 36, Darwin Durchanek, Ros, 18:41.01; 37, Scott Rowan, SM, 18:43.80; 38, Chris Hernandez, KU, 18:47.06; 39, Mateo Mengis, NM, 18:48.41; 40, Sam Crawford, Ros, 18:51.78; 41, Nick Lovemark, Ros, 18:52.17; 42, Jake Miner, Ash, 18:53.75; 43, Andrew Maldonado, Ros, 18:55.85; 44, Nick Ludwig, SM, 19:03.83; 45, Denver Speelman, GP, 19:05.04; 46, Nelson Kling, Ash, 19:19.57; 47, Jordan Ricketts, SM, 19:23.81; 48, AJ Riggs, Ros, 19:38.33; 49, Kyle Wells, NM, 19:55.31; 50, Josh Blesse, NM, 20:00.90; 51, David Davis, EP, 21:31.15; 52, Farley Holden, EP, 22:50.97.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail