Stein, Gutches take regional cross-country titles
GOLD HILL — Cameron Stein’s objective in the Southern Oregon Regional Cross-Country Championships was to run faster than everyone else in the field.
After a mile, the question of how fast is too fast began to weigh on the Ashland senior.
Stein, motivated by defeat a week earlier, bolted out to an early lead in the boys 5,000-meter race Saturday at Valley of the Rogue State Park — completing the first mile of the 3.1-mile route in 4 minutes, 27 seconds.
“I was like, oh boy, this is a little quick,” said Stein, who next year will be a preferred walk-on in distance running at Oregon. “At that point, there’s no point in going back to the pack and trying to work with them. So I was like, let’s increase the lead and make sure I got it.”
Get it he did.
In Ashland’s largest cross-country meet since the 2019 state championships, which it won, Stein took home first place with a resounding performance, and he led the Grizzlies to the team championship.
Stein ran a personal-record 14:40.6 over the fast course, and two Ashland teammates — Reed Pryor (14:51.8) and Nathan Stein (16:12.1) — were second and sixth, respectively, as the Grizzlies scored 34 points.
Crater, paced by Tyrone Gorze in fourth place in 15:23.7, was second with 60 points.
South Medford’s Michael Maiorano gave chase throughout and was third in 14:57.1.
In the girls race, North Medford sophomore Estella Gutches used a formula similar to Stein’s on her way to victory. She was motivated by a setback a week ago, and she set the pace early and didn’t allow anyone to catch her.
Gutches clocked a PR of her own, 19:06.9, and led the Black Tornado girls to their first conference championship since 1984 — two years before Medford split into two high schools.
North Medford scored 47 points to beat out runner-up Ashland with 56.
The Grizzlies’ Grace Yaconelli, a junior, was second in 19:26.5. Crater’s Taryn Dance was third in 19:39.9.
The morning races were for the 6A and 5A Southern Oregon Conference teams in this season reconfigured because of COVID-19. After the larger schools competed, they vacated the site and turned it over to the 4A Skyline Conference for its championships.
Phoenix captured the girls team title over two other squads. The Pirates scored 34 points to edge Klamath Union with 35.
In the boys meet, Hidden Valley won with 27 points and Phoenix was second with 41.
Stein and Pryor were bent on atoning for losing a race on March 26 at Crater High. That event deviated from cross-country; it was 5,000 meters entirely on the track, and the Grizzly duo came in behind South Medford’s Maiorano.
Maiorano’s tactic? He went out fast and didn’t let up.
“So,” Stein said Saturday, “if this is how it’s going to be, let’s try and use that strategy.”
“It was a good opportunity to put down a fast time,” he added, “and we executed our plan. But we probably could have gone faster, so this race is kind of redemption.”
Stein’s fast start, while alarming at first, could be rationalized.
“On a cross-country course,” said Stein, whose previous best was 15:27.2 at state in 2019, “each mile is different. You’ve got to put in the speed where you can and just kind of relax on the slower terrain.”
The Valley of the Rogue course was primarily flat and most of it was hard-packed dirt or pavement.
“It doesn’t steal any of the energy from your legs, it doesn’t zap them as much,” said Stein. “It kind of bounces you back up with each stride.”
The boys race wasn’t entirely 6A and 5A. Jake Sorani, a junior for 3A Cascade Christian, placed fifth in 15:55.9, two days after winning his district title over the same course.
Like the Ashland boys, Gutches wanted to make up for coming in behind Yaconelli on the Crater track.
“I knew she was pretty good, she beat me on the track,” said Gutches, “so I was coming back and saying, ‘I want revenge.’”
The effect of the loss last week on Gutches was evident, said North Medford coach Piet Voskes.
“You could see her being pretty reflective all week,” he said. “And she knows that one race wasn’t in any way an embodiment of who she is. We kept reminding her that track and cross are two very different sports.”
What Gutches took into Saturday’s meet was an aggressive approach. It played out as she ran the first mile in 5:42 and opened a 10-meter lead on Yaconelli that she wouldn’t relinquish.
“On the track,” said Gutches, “I didn’t make it my race. I paced with other people and they were in control of the race. This time, I just went out and ran like I usually do instead of being afraid of other people and letting them control it. I made it my race. That’s how I like to run; I like to be by myself and out there. I don’t like making up time and being behind someone.”
Gutches’ former best was 19:27.2.
Cammeo Ramirez was the second Black Tornado across the finish line, coming in seventh in 20:16.1. The next three, to round out the scoring, were nicely bunched: Eleanor Nichol, 12th; Saundra Parsons, 13th; and Reese Meager, 14th.
In the Skyline Conference meet, Phoenix’s girls got a runner-up showing from sophomore Kyla Potratz, whose time was 21:06, and third place from Sophia Stubblefield, in 21:26.3. Ava Robinson added a top-10 with her seventh showing in 22:31.6.
Lakeview’s Kaley Schneider won the title in 20:44.2.
The Pirate boys placed three in the top 10: Elwood Hosking, fourth, 16:56.4; Dilan Mathieu, eighth, 17:42.2; and Noah Marshall, 10th, 18:03.2.
Some area teams will compete in meets next week, while others completed their season and will turn their attention to track.
The individual 4A boys champion was North Valley’s Patrick Clayburn. His time was 16:37.1.
TEAM SCORES: Ashland 34, Crater 60, South Medford 82, Grants Pass 88, Roseburg 119, North Medford 124.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 5): 1, Cameron Stein, Ash, 14:40.6; 2, Reed Pryor, Ash, 14:51.8; 3, Michael Maiorano, SM, 14:57.10; 4, Tyrone Gorze, Cra, 15:23.70; 5, Jake Sorani, CC, 15:55.90.
ASHLAND (34): 1, Cameron Stein, 14:40.6; 2, Reed Pryor, 14:51.80; 6, Nathan Stein, 16:12.10; 13, Ellis Pryor, 17:09.2; 15, Luke Seeley, 17:20.4.
CRATER (60): 4, Tyrone Gorze, 15:23.7; 7, Conner Sutton, 16:28.0; 16, Shaun Garnica, 17:22.6; 18, Tate Broesder, 17:29.5; 19, Ryan Hvall, 17:35.6.
SOUTH MEDFORD (82): 3, Michael Maiorano, 14:57.1; 8, Connor Singer, 16:36.6; 14, DJ Scott, 17:11.2; 27, Connor Williams, 18:25.7; 34, Isaac Black, 19:21.3.
GRANTS PASS (88): 10, Quaid Petronella, 17:00.2; 11, Wesley Powell, 17:05.8; 17, Matt Rieman, 17:25.3; 26, Jaia Hannagan, 18:15.3; 29, Jeremy Huff, 18:43.3.
NORTH MEDFORD (124): 9, Grant Lulich, 16:49.9; 21, Trent Wayman, 17:46.9; 23, Jace Clark, 18:04.9; 38, Shane Stout, 19:48.8; 40, Jace Garibay, 20:14.0.
TEAM SCORES: North Medford 47, Ashland 56, Grants Pass 62, Roseburg 89, Crater 100, South Medford 130.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 5): 1, Estella Gutches, NM, 19:06.9; 2, Grace Yaconelli, Ash, 19:26.5; 3, Taryn Dance, Cra, 19:39.9; 4, Madison Wilt, GP, 19:47.6; 5, Bailey Moritz, GP, 20:01.1.
NORTH MEDFORD (47): 1, Estella Gutches, 19:06.9; 7, Cammeo Ramirez, 20:16.1; 12, Eleanor Nichol, 20:47.8; 13, Saundra Parsons, 20:48.5; 14, Reese Meager, 20:53.0.
ASHLAND (56): 2, Grace Yaconelli, 19:26.5; 10, Milan Hague, 20:34.6; 11, Sage Reddish, 20:34.6; 15, Annika Wells, 21:04.9; 18, Violet Herig, 21:15.9.
GRANTS PASS (62): 4, Madison Wilt, 19:47.6; 5, Bailey Moritz, 20:01.1; 8, Mary Sturley, 20:21.3; 21, Sage Hartsfield, 22:06.0; 24, Bela Marshak, 22:27.9.
CRATER (100): 3, Taryn Dance, 19:39.9; 16, Samantha Payne, 21:09.8; 20, Lindsay Siebert, 22:01.9; 30, Isabel Kapule, 24:12.50; 31, Gracie Bolanos, 24:29.8.
SOUTH MEDFORD (130): 9, Emily Nash, 20:25.9; 23, Emma Schmerbach, 22:22.0; 29, Abigail Shuldberg, 23:51.9; 34, Jasmine Lopez, 24:50.8; 35, Hannah Beers, 26:04.2
TEAM SCORES: Hidden Valley 27, Phoenix 41, Klamath Union 69, Henley 98, Mazama 124.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 5): 1, Patrick Clayburn, North Valley, 16:37.1; 2, Caleb Christian, HV, 16:45.7; 3, Grant Bohannon, HV, 16:56.3; 4, Elwood Hosking, P, 16:56.4; 5, Asa Marwick, HV, 17:19.9.
PHOENIX (41): 4, Elwood Hosking, 16:56.4; 8, Dilan Mathieu, 17:42.2; 10, Noah Marshall, 18:03.2; 12, Orlando Contreras, 18:45.5; 15, Marcelo Camargo-Berry, 19:03.0.
TEAM SCORES: Phoenix 34, Klamath Union 35, Henley 53.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 5): 1, Kaley Schneider, Lakeview, 20:44.2; 2, Kyla Potratz, Pho, 21:06.0; 3, Sophia Stubblefield, Pho, 21:26.3; 4, Isabela Coffman, KU, 21:33.5; 5, Daisy Kritzer, KU, 21:43.8.
PHOENIX (34): 2, Kyla Potratz, 21:06.0; 3, Sophia Stubblefield, 21:26.3; 7, Ava Robinson, 22:31.6; 12, Fatima Flores, 23:49.0; 17, Brisa Bauer, 24:24.0.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com.