X-C teams begin long climb in IMC

Season in review

Sixth place in the Intermountain Conference isn’t exactly what the Hood River Valley cross-country teams were shooting for.

But if you consider that the IMC is one of the elite conferences statewide — with runners competing for state titles, let alone district titles — there’s not a whole lot more HRV could have done except run year-round.

Not everyone has it in them, but according to girls coach Kristen Uhler, they had better if they want to run for her team.

“I’m not happy with sixth, and I don’t think the girls are either,” Uhler said. “I know they can do much better next year, and I expect to see a good majority of them do everything it will take to improve.”

While HRV did place sixth out of eight teams at the Oct. 25 district meet, Uhler saw her sophomore-dominated team take tremendous strides this season.

She watched a number of young runners, such as Janne Lucas and Jolie Hobbs, jump to the front of the pack, and also looked on as freshman sensation Melissa Kauffman surged into the top 15 at district.

Uhler also got an unexpected boost from junior Komisa Schwartzel, who ran JV for half the season, as well as sophomores Jennifer Jeffries and Jenna Fisher.

“The way I see it is, if you’re going to do something, why not be successful at it?” Uhler said. “So now that these girls are showing me the attitude that they want to improve, I want to do everything I can to help them get there.”

The girls team will only say goodbye to one senior varsity runner, Caitlin Becker, and will also welcome a host of talented eighth graders from the Hood River Middle School program.

Meanwhile, the boys team will watch three of its top five runners — Fernando Ochoa, Graham Hay and Brian Crosswhite — move onto bigger and better things.

But coach Rich Hedges also has a lot coming back, including junior No. 1 Alex Jimenez, Mat Foster and three-year lettermen Jess and Chris Jennings.

“We have a great group of juniors and sophomores who could help us move up,” said Hedges, who will look for a boost from standout JV runners such as Kevin Dye, Carlos Quintana, Joel Miller and K.C. Christiansen.

“But we need to look at what our goal is and take the steps to get there,” he added. “The number-one thing we’re missing right now is the competitive edge that Mountain View, Bend and Hermiston have. There’s a big gap right now, and we need to shorten it.”

The road to the top five will not be an easy one for the boys or girls teams. However, Uhler and Hedges have already begun to sell the year-round commitment idea, and they hope to see it pay off next season with another youth movement.

“We need to come into the season in shape and then run to our potential,” Hedges said. “But the commitment has got to be there.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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