Portland, OR - Meridian's Nathan Schneider finished 3rd overall in 16:14 for the 5,000 meter race and helped his team to a 4th place finish in the Division 2 boys race at the Nike Portland XC Invite at the Portland Meadows Race Track last Saturday, September 29th.
Schneider started off behind the front pack from the start running 5:05 for his 1st mile. With the hopes of moving up at the end and potentially taking 1st overall, Schneider had to convince himself that he could do it before the race even began.
"In the beginning I was a little slow and kind of tired from sleep," said Schneider. "As I got through the race after telling myself I could do this, I finally understood that I can run fast today and that led to me placing well."
Schneider talked about how his training in the off-season has been crucial to his success because of the strength he has gain from climbing hills. When it comes to racing, he can see the progress he has made from where he was last year to now.
"I have been focusing more on the hills this season and that has progressed me farther up with the top runners in our conference. Most of the cross country work I do involves hills in the actual course. For me to take that step in my training, I think from where I have started and to where I am now has helped me throughout the whole season."
Teammates of Schneider, Abbas Theophilus and Jaskaran Dhatt, also helped the Trojans with their 14th and 17th place finishes. Theophilus ran 16:37.1 and Dhatt ran 16:37.6. Jensen Ellars placed 47th for Meridian as well with a time of 17:12.
As we hit the midpoint of the season, the Meridian Trojans are ranked 2nd in the 1A Class right behind Lakeside Nine Mile Falls from Spokane. Schneider says his team doesn't worry about those rankings and are just looking to be a better from where they were at the beginning of the year.
"I think we are doing pretty good as a team right now. However, I think if we can get some of our 5th and 6th guys just a little bit farther up ahead in races, that would help us out a lot and it could lead us to doing well in postseason."
Fast Freshman Leads Meridian Girls
One of the least talked about athletes in this conference this season made a big statement last Saturday in Portland with her outstanding time and placing at the Nike Portland XC Invite.
Freshman Kayla Aalpoel went on to place 2nd in the Division 3 race running a personal best time of 19:50.6. This was only the 3rd race of the her high school career.
For Aalpoel to take this next big step in her training and racing was not only big for the team, but for her as well.
"I just wanted to keep a steady pace for the entire race," said Aalpoel. "Getting under 20 minutes was where I wanted to be, specifically 19:20, but I just decided to keep the same pace the whole time and keep catching up to the girl in 1st. "
This is the first time Aalpoel has traveled far from home for such a prestigious invite. Because she is young runner, the nerves were definitely there she said but that didn't impact her in the long run.
"I did have a little bit of nerves at the start. It wasn't as bad because I have already ran at another big invite this season, and there was a lot of people running too. Overall, it went great down in Portland."
The Meridian girls finished 12th overall in the Division 3 race with the help of Aalpoel's 2nd place finish. Senior Kendyl Otter was 26th running 21:02.8.
Aalpoel notices the progress the team has made from day 1 to now since times are faster and everyone is getting better as a whole. Currently, the Meridian girls are ranked 7th in 1A Class polls.
For more results from Nike Portland XC, visit: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/142214/results
Meridian will host a NWC tri-meet against Ferndale, Blaine, and Nooksack Valley at Meridian High School tomorrow starting at 4:00 with the boys race.