EUGENE — Philomath High's 1-2 runners have been pushing each other all season on the cross-country course. Through the earlier meets, junior Brody Gerig usually finished first for the Warriors. Then, sophomore Grant Hellesto started to come on strong over the second half of the season.
Both finished productive campaigns Saturday at the Class 4A state cross-country meet at Lane Community College with top-35 placings.
"We usually try to stick with each other, so that's what we tried to do," Hellesto said after placing 27th in 17:18. "It went really well for the first lap and then toward the end, we split up a little bit but it was good."
Gerig ended up 34th in 17:37.
"We were working together, especially the first half of the race," Gerig said. "Our strategy was to work together and try to move up. In the second half, I just had a hard time staying with him and he took off."
Hellesto said it helped to run the Oregon West Conference meet at LCC and although the course was slightly different, it was similar enough to provide a comfort level in terms of familiarity.
"It was a good course, lots of competition, but it was definitely one of the hardest courses we've done this season," Hellesto said. "There were some hills that were pretty killer, they got me pretty bad. But overall, it was fun, it was good."
Gerig was happy with his performance.
"I really tried to push hard but it is a battle out there mentally, it's really tough," Gerig said. "Physically, I felt like maybe I could've gone faster, but emotionally, I feel like I did my best in that moment. You just have to learn that even though it may not be a PR, you just do the best you can in the moment."
Philomath placed seventh overall, edging Siuslaw by a single point. Marist Catholic took first place and Newport out of the Oregon West finished runner-up.
"The nice thing is they're back — the top five guys are all back and we have a superb freshman coming in," PHS coach Joe Fulton said. "They hopefully learned a lesson today and found out how important it is to finish strong in races. We'll see how they respond and come back next year."
PHS sophomore Adam Hernandez placed 49th in 18 minutes flat.
"I just looked at it as another race in the season," Hernandez said. "I know we just did this last week, so I knew where to kick it up and make my moves. But I thought it was a really good race and I just pushed my hardest."
Hernandez had a simple tactic — just pass people and move up.
"Not to go out too hard because I know that's something that most people do in these big races," Hernandez said when asked about his approach. "I just tried to pass people, pass people."
The rest of Philomath's lineup included sophomore Justin Enghauser (52nd, 18:04), junior Noah King (62nd, 18:18), senior McKenzy Johnson (68th, 18:33) and senior Seth Staten (75th, 18:51).
"It was a great season," Gerig said. "I PR'd a bunch from last season and I was about a minute faster, so I was really happy with it."
Class 4A State Championships
Saturday at Eugene
Team scoring: Marist Catholic 54, Newport 81, Tillamook 84, Valley Catholic 119, Klamath Union 120, Baker 170, Philomath 187, Siuslaw 188, La Grande 211, Gladstone 266, North Valley 281, Molalla 307.
Top 10 individuals: 1, Joey Peterson, Marist Catholic, 16:10; 2, Matthew Frazeur, Stayton, 16:13; 3, Kolby Spink, Newport, 16:15; 4, Carter Kunert, Tillamook, 16:15; 5, Leo Johns, Newport, 16:20; 6, Evan Villano, Marist Catholic, 16:22; 7, Kale Cassidy, Baker, 16:24; 8, Giovanni Bravo, Woodburn, 16:38; 9, Nate Hicken, Valley Catholic, 16:40; 10, Ben Blake, Klamath Union, 16:42.
PHS Results: 27, Grant Hellesto, 17:18; 34, Brody Gerig, 17:37; 49, Adam Hernandez, 18:00; 52, Justin Enghauser, 18:04; 62, Noah King, 18:18; 68, McKenzy Johnson, 18:33; 75, Seth Staten, 18:51.