Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eastwood starts 2013 strong/Dellinger Invitational

There were lots of good things going on this past weekend in the middle of the XC season for 2013. For starters, Eastwood has picked off where they did last year and are undefeated midway through the season. They have run the table on the local competition and have just returned from repeating their winning performance of last year at the prestigious McNeil Invitational in Round Rock, TX. Brian Casillas (below) has been the leader that he was expected to be. Jose Silva (the other returner from last years South #4 squad) has shined as well. Last year I mentioned the culture change at Eastwood that spread down to their JV. The JV last year was the best team in El Paso other than Eastwood's varsity and those kids have stepped up to the plate. At mid-season they have ranked as high as TX#4. The rest of the state may have seen this as a rebuilding year but people close to the program could have sensed this. The usual challengers await at Region 1 but this year has a lot more uncertainty that keeps this year up for grabs. Defending state champion Southlake Carroll is vulnerable. They ran without Connor Hendrickson  (a 9:10 3200 runner) at Nike South and were well beaten. Lewisville Marcus who many may have pegged the favorite if SLC faltered has yet to run JR Logan Hendrix (5th at Region 1 last year) and without him, same story. So Eastwood is in the same position as the last couple, just need to get to Lubbock first and then pack them in within 40-45 seconds from 1-5. Large gaps between scoring runners will be a killer.
Eastwood's Brian Casillas 
As I am nowhere near El Paso (or Texas) I did the next best thing and went out to the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Eugene, just a bit south of me to see the Oregon men and women run on their home turf. The men's race had UW's Aaron Nelson break the field and put a good distance on the field. Close to 4 miles in, the chase pack which included Oregon ex Trevor Dunbar and current Ducks Parker Stinson and Edward Cheserek, looked out of it. Cheserek the decided he had enough left and dropped the others and went after Nelson before just falling short 23:54 to 23:59. I had to do a double take at the mid pack early in the race when I thought I spotted Alan Webb running comfortably and talking to runners. It turns out Webb is an Assistant Coach at Portland State and was pacing his group through. He picked it up around 5K and ran a hard last 2 miles to finish a very respectable 24:45
The Chase Pack

Alan Webb mid race

The women's race was the highlight however. It was announced at the start that WA high school star Alexa Efraimson was in the race. She went right with the leaders and never strayed from there. Boise State all-american Emma Bates was the only one to keep pace at the end and then even tried to pull away to no avail. Efraimson used her 1500 meter closing speed to lose the gap and win an exciting finish, both ran 16:35. An additional highlight for me was meeting the one and only Bill Dellinger himself. Great way to spend 2 hours on a beautiful Saturday.

High Schooler Alexa Efraimson (WA) kicks down Emma bates

With the one and only Bill Dellinger  (R) and Vin Lanana (L)

I hope to blog more frequently here and look forward to getting out to NXN here. Can't close without mentioning the great starts to the XC college season by A&M's Isaac Spencer (EP Austin) and Houston's super frosh Brian Barazza (EP Franklin).