Moses Lake girls near the top at home invite

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Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin HeraldCamille Carpenter (149) and Carlie Gregg (151) lead the Chiefs out during the start of the 66-runner girls varsity race at the Moses Lake Invite on Saturday at Blue Heron Park. The Chiefs finished third.

MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake cross country coach Larry Dagnon isn’t one for bold predictions, but he went on record in the preseason saying he thought his girls team is going to shock the world.

“I think we’re going to be the team to beat in the Big Nine,” he said.

Only one team qualifies for the 4A state meet out of the Columbia Basin Big Nine this year, along with the top seven individuals, so it’s going to be a street fight to get there. But the Moses Lake girls took a big first step in placing three in the top 10 at the Moses Lake Invite on Saturday at Blue Heron Park.

Sophomore Camille Carpenter raced with the lead pack through the first mile and maintained a steady pace even after Deer Park’s Marion George blew it wide open and won running away.

Carpenter was sixth in the 66-runner field. Junior Carlie Gregg was eighth and senior Melanie Flores placed 10th in her first-ever cross country meet.

“It was a very good pack time,” Dagnon said. “Camille had a great race. Carlie was right there with her. They were kind of feeding off each other. I thought the kids raced with attitude. They didn’t let the race get too big. They stayed with their splits and they really put it out there.”

Flores placed fifth in the 100-pound class at the girls state wrestling meet last year as a junior. She could be the missing ingredient on a girls cross country team looking to make a level change.

“When I first came out it was to get in shape for wrestling, but now that I’m out I like the dynamic and being a part of something,” the Moses Lake senior said. “I did a lot better than I thought I would do. Coach talked about not going out too hard, so I stayed in the middle of the pack and worked my way up.”

Carpenter finished 73rd in the 4A state race last year as a freshman running her first season of cross country. Her track background and natural ability puts her in the mix most every time out, even though she is still learning how to race.

“My intention was to gradually work into the race, but it turned into a really fast-paced race and I ran a little faster than I wanted to stay with the leaders,” she said. “I felt pretty good for my first race, but I definitely need to get into better shape.”

Gregg is the most experienced runner on the team, having participated in the 4A state meet her first two years.

“I probably started out a little too fast, but I felt pretty good for the first race,” she said. “Camille and I stayed together for most of the race, which I think helps because it kind of holds you accountable not to slow down.”

The Moses Lake girls were without Mikayla Cooper, who sat out with an injury.

In the boys race, the Chiefs were without their top two runners Joshua Cooper and Brandon Wood. Dagnon held them out, saying there’s no need to turn minor injuries into major problems later on. It was a solid effort in a challenging field for the young Chiefs squad. Nicholas Elliott (11) and Ketrin Hemmerling (12) led the way.

Girls team scores: 1. Deer Park 43. 2. Cashmere 69. 3 Moses Lake 79. 4. Cheney 81. 5. Southridge 111. 6. Royal 138. 7. Cascade 178. 8 Connell 215. 9. Othello 226.

Boys team scores: 1. Connell 53. 2. Cascade 86. 3. Moses Lake 97. 4. Omak 101. 5. Toppenish 148. 6. Deer Park 179. 7. Royal 187.8. Okanogan 205. 9. Cashmere 241. 10 Brewster 246. 11. Othello 247. 12. Tri-Cities Prep 260. 13. Garfield-Palouse 396. 14. LaSalle 401.

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