Crescent Valley's Emily Wisniewski (left) beat Boise''s Samantha Smith (right) by 30 seconds Saturday. (Photo courtesy Ultimook)
Crescent Valley's Emily Wisniewski (left) beat Boise''s Samantha Smith (right) by 30 seconds Saturday. (Photo courtesy Ultimook)

It was a big day for Crescent Valley on Saturday in the Ultimook Race, a cross country event with runners from 108 schools at Hydrangea Ranch in Tillamook.

Raiders sophomore Emily Wisniewski, the reigning 5A champion, blitzed to an easy win in the 6A/5A girls race. And senior Kanoa Blake, who was 16th at state last year, showed his vast improvement by holding on for a narrow win in the 6A/5A boys race.

“It was fun. A wild one to start the season,” Crescent Valley coach Tyler Bushnell said.

Wisniewski finished in 17 minutes, 53.8 seconds, well ahead of the runner-up, Boise (Idaho) junior Samantha Smith (18:24.1). Wisniewski's performance was 36 seconds faster than her time at the Ultimook last year, when she finished second to Lake Oswego's Kate Peters.

“I know she's been eager and hungry to race again,” Bushnell said. “She likes that challenge, kind of pushing the limits in those settings. She came in with a nice edge to her preparation and eagerness to go big right from the start.”

Wisniewski, who won the 3,000 and was third in the 1,500 at the 5A track meet as a freshman, ran with Smith and Boise junior Allie Bruce (third-18:42.6) for the first mile before taking control.

“Coming out of the big mud pit, she kind of blew it open and was running by herself from there,” Bushnell said. “That's the tough thing about her is the ability to push and suffer even out there by herself in the front.

“It was impressive, especially for a meet that's pretty playful and we don't put a whole lot of emphasis on the time or a specific pace. Even in that playful setting, she did seem ready to cook.”

The next highest Oregon finishers in the 6A/5A race were South Eugene senior Cameron Gupta (fifth-19:28.5) and freshman Madi Zemper-Prill (19:29.0), Lakeridge junior Breckyn Kornachuk (eighth-19.31.1) and Lake Oswego sophomore Ana Peters (ninth-19:43.0).

Blake signaled that he is ready for a big senior year by finishing in 15:45.2, a dramatic improvement from a year ago, when he ran 17:20.9 to place seventh in the Ultimook. It is the best time in the state this season.

“There was a bit of a surprise with that,” Bushnell said.

Blake, who placed fourth in the 800 and eighth in the 1,500 at the 5A meet in the spring, drew on his speed to hold off a challenge from Boise junior Kaden Helder (15:45.5) in a downhill sprint to the finish line. Blake and Helder ran stride for stride for most of the last 1,000 meters.

“Those guys were moving pretty quick,” Bushnell said. “He was able to find another gear to hold him off.”

Bushnell said Blake flew under the radar last season as part of a deep pack for Crescent Valley, which was the 5A runner-up to Crater. But the track season provided a springboard into the summer.

“He's clearly out front as a lone wolf for us,” Bushnell said. “I kind of joke about how he was this mysterious yeti this summer. He did a lot of training on his own. It's been a nice surprise to see him come in on fire and really strong. He's just really smooth-looking in practice.”

Cleveland senior Sten Brakstad (fourth-16:18.0) was the next Oregon finisher in the 6A/5A race, ahead of The Dalles senior Juan Diego Contreras (sixth-16:41.0), South Albany sophomore Zander Campbell (eighth-16:50.2) and Lake Oswego junior Leo Cook (ninth-17:05.4).

In 4A/3A/2A/1A competition, Molalla freshman Anika Jenson (19:37.9) and won the girls race and Washougal (Wash.) junior Samuel Grice (16:34.7) outdueled Oregon Episcopal senior Olin Gilster (16:35.7) in the boys race.

Notes: Crater got big wins from sophomore Josiah Tostenson and junior Lindsay Siebert on Friday in the Bill Springhorn Classic at Redding, Calif. Tostenson completed the three-mile course in 15:12.63 to beat Ashland senior Nathan Stein (15:24.02). Crater outscored Chico (Calif.) 24-81 to finish first among 15 teams. Siebert clocked 19:03.21 to lead a 1-2-3 finish for Crater along with senior Haylee Baldwin (second-19:26.07) and sophomore Emma West (third-19:39.7). The Comets won the eight-team meet with 27 points, ahead of Chico (47). … Santiam Christian senior Benjamin Bourne, 3A runner-up in the 1,500 and 3,000 last track season, cruised to victory in the Darrel Deedon Invite at Cascade on Thursday. Bourne ran 16:38.3 to beat Valley Catholic junior Morgan Amano (17:15.8). Valley Catholic won the nine-team boys meet with 31 points; Santiam Christian was second at 82. … East Linn Christian sophomore Daisy Lalonde won the girls race at the Darrel Deedon Invite, finishing in 19:30.8. Valley Catholic sophomore Jaya Simmons (20:03.6) was second. Oregon City beat North Eugene 26-60 for first place in the girls race.