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Patient Grizzlies still too much for field

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Saturday may have provided the one element to slow the Ashland boys cross country team, and even that didn’t seem to matter in the 50th State of Jefferson race at Lithia Park in Ashland.

Fearing inclement weather on a course that is tricky enough under ideal circumstances, the Grizzlies informally discussed taking it a little easier during the race and possibly just turning on the jets at the end should they see fit.

While it certainly wasn’t a mandate from Ashland head coach Hans Voskes to be a little more patient, it’s exactly the strategy the Grizzly runners adopted — and still they were essentially unrivaled on a day where slippery conditions led to several fallen racers.

Led by seniors EJ Holland and Arlo Davis, Ashland posted the top four times and won the boys event easily with a total of 18 points.

Runner-up Shasta finished well behind with 76 points, while North Medford was third (84), Hidden Valley fourth (94) and South Medford fifth (148).

Holland cruised into victory lane for the second straight weekend in 15 minutes, 28.66 seconds, with Davis close behind at 15:41.57 and Ashland juniors Reed Pryor (15:51.91) and Cameron Stein (16:15.56) rounding out the top four finishers.

Ashland freshman Nathan Stein was eighth (16:50.47) and senior Henry Williams placed 10th (16:54.65).

North Medford sophomore Trey Driskell paced his team by placing sixth in 16:36.39, while Cascade Christian sophomore Jake Sorani was 13th (17:05.76).

As the event coordinator, Voskes said he kind of put his runners on the backburner during the day and it wasn’t until later when he was pouring over the results that he truly got a sense of their dominance.

“I was kind of looking at it later and I thought, wow, they really did have a good day,” said the veteran coach. “I’m super impressed. They’re on fire; they’re all running really well. The last lap they went ahead and picked up the pace and it showed in the results.”

Equally impressive was the effort from North Medford freshman Estella Gutches, who stormed to the front of the pack right away and then put plenty of distance from any challenger to win the girls race in 19:43.89. Ashland junior Sage Reddish was second in 20:07.33.

“She’s a Gutches so she has a wrestler mindset,” said North Medford head coach Piet Voskes. “She’s got kind of a takedown attitude. She’s aggressive and she really likes to compete. She’s pretty young and just kind of learning the sport but she’s starting to blossom and gain some confidence.”

Gutches’ father, Jason, was a state champion wrestler at South Medford High, and her uncle Les Gutches was a three-time state champion as well as an international world champion who competed in the 1996 Olympics.

“She’s a grinder and likes the hills a lot,” said Piet Voskes of her taking a liking to the Lithia Park course. “She likes to take the lead and just go, and the other six girls behind her backed her up really well.”

With four Black Tornado runners among the top 10 finishers, North Medford scored 31 points to earn the girls title ahead of runner-up Ashland (55). Junior Cammeo Ramirez placed fifth (20:19.15), with sophomore Saundra Parsons ninth (21:18.57) and senior Emily Cowan 10th (21:20.37).

“It was a good performance,” said Piet Voskes. “It’s a young group and they’re starting to become a little more seasoned than we were three weeks ago.”

Ashland junior Milan Hague was 11th in 21:21.44, with Cascade Christian’s Katelyn Willard placing 12th in 21:21.86.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES: Ashland 18, Shasta 76, North Medford 84, Hidden Valley 94, South Medford 148, Brookings-Harbor 180, Mt. Shasta 182, Lakeview 245, South Umpqua 247, Mazama 253.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10): 1, EJ Holland, Ash, 15:28.66; 2, Arlo Davis, Ash, 15:41:57; 3, Reed Pryor, Ash, 15:51.91; 4, Cameron Stein, Ash, 16:15.56; 5, Alexis Ramirez, MS, 16:29.43; 6, Trey Driskell, NM, 16:36.39; 7, Luke Bland, Sha, 16:49.54; 8, Nathan Stein, Ash, 16:50.47; 9, Drew Hering, MS, 16:51.76; 10, Henry Williams, Ash, 16:54.65.

LOCAL RESULTS

ASHLAND (18): 1, EJ Holland, 15:28.66; 2, Arlo Davis, 15:41:57; 3, Reed Pryor, 15:51.91; 4, Cameron Stein, 16:15.56; 8, Nathan Stein, 16:50.47.

NORTH MEDFORD (84): 6, Trey Driskell, 16:36.39; 16, Joshua Scull, 17:22.83; 19, Grant Lulich, 17:49.20; 23, Jace Clark, 18:09.37; 27, Jace Garibay, 18:24.56.

SOUTH MEDFORD (148): 29, Connor Williams, 18:34.62; 30, Gage Nichols, 18:37.14; 32, Elliott Hikade, 19:00.16; 34, Josue Ledezma, 19:03.26; 35, Sam Marshall, 19:03.48.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (INC): 13, Jake Sorani, 17:05.76; 42, Ty Havniear, 19:18.27; 43, Carson Casey, 19:20.44.

PHOENIX (INC): 57, Marcello Camargo, 20:14.41; 71, Blake Bleitler, 21:33.47; 72, Adriel Gamez, 21:39.85; 74, Roman Stubbs, 22:09.35.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES: North Medford 31, Ashland 55, Lakeview 66, Shasta 83, Kennedy 139, Mt. Shasta 162, Mazama 171.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10): 1, Estella Gutches, NM, 19:43.89; 2, Sage Reddish, Ash, 20:07.33; 3, Ella Villagrana, Lak, 20:09.09; 4, Jennifer Ruiz, Mod, 20:11.17; 5, Cammeo Ramirez, NM, 20:19.15; 6, Natalie Sandeen, HV, 20:41.63; 7, Kaley Schneider, Lak, 20:56.15; 8, Julia Ketcham, Lak, 21:03.52; 9, Saundra Parsons, NM, 21:18.57; 10, Emily Cowan, NM, 21:20.37.

LOCAL RESULTS

NORTH MEDFORD (31): 1, Estella Gutches, 19:43.89; 5, Cammeo Ramirez, 20:19.15; 9, Saundra Parsons, 21:18.57; 10, Emily Cowan, 21:20.37; 14, Ava Telford, 21:40.77.

ASHLAND (55): 2, Sage Reddish, 20:07.33; 11, Milan Hague, 21:21.44; 15, Kariana Austbo, 21:47.18; 16, Annika Wells, 21:48.92; 24, Violet Hering, 23:15.00.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (INC): 12, Katelyn Willard, 21:21.86; 31, Rose Hehn, 24:11.52.

SOUTH MEDFORD (INC): 29, Hannah Beers, 23:54.86; 30, Regan Singer, 24:03.10; 40, MaryKate Jantzer, 24:39.32; 44, Olivia Sewell, 25:44.70.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Estella Gutches opens her lead into the final loop winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Estella Gutches pushes into the finish winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune(right to left) Ashland's Arlo Davis, Reed Pryor and Evan Holland take control of the men's varsity race early during the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Estella Gutches pushes into the finish winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune(right to left) Ashland's Arlo Davis, Reed Pryor and Evan Holland take control of the men's varsity race early during the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune(right to left) Ashland's Arlo Davis, Pryor Reed and Evan Holland take control of the men's varsity race early during the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune(right to left) Ashland's Arlo Davis, Reed Pryor and Evan Holland take control of the men's varsity race early during the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAshland's Evan Holland look over at the clock at the finish winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAshland's Evan Holland look over at the clock at the finish winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Estella Gutches opens her lead into the final loop winning the State Of Jeferson Intvite in Ashland's Lithia Park Saturday.
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