By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School cross country team crowned it’s first ever queen of the hill over the summer.

Each year the Celtic athletes travel to Pacific City to run up the Big Sand Dune as part of their training – and after a four-mile run. Last month, Ashley Burger, a junior became the first Lady Celt to win the race.

“I was really dead, but it was fun. The only thing was I couldn’t walk,” Burger said.

Within that brutal exercise was a crucial lesson Keith Andersen, Celtic head coach, hoped to impart.

“I told them that thigh burn is what they should be feeling in the last 800 meters every race. If they’re not feeling it, they’re not running hard enough,” Andersen said.

Even after three years in the program, it’s a lesson senior Mason Grine is only beginning to understand.

“ Running through the pain is a hard concept to grasp,” Grine said.

Grine is hoping to get his numbers in the 5K run from the upper 18 minute bracket to the lower one.

“I’d like to get it down to about 18:10,” Grine said.

The seniors will be leading a team of young, but promising, underclassmen.

“I think we have a chance for a decent showing in the district,” Andersen said.

Senior Ian Scott is hoping that his season extends past the district meet.

“I want to make it to the state meet,” Scott said. “We’ve got a pretty good team, so we have to see how it shakes out.”

He also expects outstanding performances from Tony Goemaere and, of couse, Burger.

“[Ashley] is putting in lots of miles and she should be pretty tough.”

She could be a powerhouse this year, she’s extremely disciplined with a good attitude,” Andersen said.

The team needs to unite to have a positive impact on each other, Grine said.

“I’ve looked up to the leaders of this team since I was a freshman and they, along with my faith, have helped me develop diligence. I want to pass that down and instill those leadership qualities in the younger kids,” Grine said.

The cross country team will attend a preview meet on Monday, Sept. 13 followed by the Saxon Invitational Saturday, Sept. 18.