Ahmed Muhumed may have used more energy after the race than he did during it.
After West Salem High School’s junior crossed the finish line of the 5,000-meter race at Bush’s Pasture Park in 15:17 to win the Greater Valley Conference district cross country title, he immediately ran back up the course to cheer on his teammates as they came to the finish line.
It worked, too.
West Salem’s boys won the GVC district team championship with a score of 39 to beat Forest Grove’s score of 46 and McMinnville’s 58.
The individual championship was Muhumed’s second straight and he was almost 30 seconds faster than he was at the same meet last year, though it was at a different course.
“It means that I won once and I came back to do it again, which actually is a pretty hard thing to do since a lot of people get pulled back down when they get that win once,” said Muhumed, who has the fastest time (14:56) in the state this season. “I’m hungry for more.”
Muhumed let the first mile play out in front of him as he hung around with Forest Grove’s Murimi Nyamu and McMinnville’s Zane Fodge and tried to keep his teammates, including Hunter Mosman, up with him.
By the third mile of the race Muhumed checked out with the lead and easily won with Nyamu and Fodge placing second and third.
“I kind of pick up about a mile and a half to go and just keep on going,” Muhumed said. “Today, it was kind of getting time at the same time as chilling.”
West Salem, along with Forest Grove and McMinnville, qualify as teams for the Oct. 31 Class 6A state cross country meet at Lane Community College.
West Salem’s boys were a power in the old Central Valley Conference, but the addition of Forest Grove and McMinnville into the league as the GVC raised the competition significantly in the team races.
“That means a lot,” said Mosman, who placed fifth. “We’ve worked so hard since the beginning of the summer and if we won, that’s the best we could have done. If we lost we did our best, too, but ultimately that’s awesome.”
The girls race had new faces out front.
South Salem freshman Anna Chau broke away from Sprague freshman Ginger Murnieks with about a half mile to go and pulled away to win in a personal record time of 17:52 with Murnieks second in 18:03.
Murnieks took out with the initial lead, but Chau was content to let her lead and wait until the end to make her move.
“She went out really fast and I didn’t feel comfortable going out that fast,” Chau said. “I just wanted to pace myself and not go out too hard so I would have enough at the end.”
West Salem senior Brooke Chuhlantseff, who had won three district cross country championships in her first three years of high school, placed third in 18:47. North Salem’s Madison Willhoft placed fourth and McNary’s Kailey Doutt was fifth. All three qualify for the state meet as individuals.
Chau’s winning time was a personal record of 16 seconds and gives her the No. 5 fastest time in Class 6A this season.
“I’m really happy because I wanted to end my season with a PR at district, so I’m really glad,” Chau said. “I also wanted to get under 18, and I’m super glad I got under 18 this year and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Forest Grove won the team portion of the competition with 79 points. South Salem was second with 88 and Sprague was third with 91.
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