EUGENE — Nicole Rasmussen doesn’t have your typical summer training regimen.
Instead of running all offseason like most top-level cross-country athletes, the Sweet Home High senior has spent the past two summers working in the Midwest.
With limited free time to train, Rasmussen’s performance slipped during her junior season. But this year, she found a way back to the medal stand.
Rasmussen earned her second career sixth-place finish Saturday at the OSAA 4A state cross-country championships at Lane Community College with a time of 19 minutes, 18 seconds over the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile) course.
She was sixth as a sophomore and 12th as a junior.
The Huskies were 11th in the team standings with 281 points. Molalla captured the team title with 50 points and Philomath was fourth at 133.
Rasmussen, a four-year state qualifier, hasn’t trained at all the past two summers. Instead, she has worked multiple jobs in North Dakota.
“My dad lives back there, so I go back during the summers and I work,” she said. “This last summer, I didn’t really run at all. I didn’t have the time.”
During the day, Rasmussen held down a job at a coffee shop. At night, she worked at a grocery store.
Running wasn’t a part of her schedule.
“When I came back the week before school started, I jumped right back into running. I just had to train really hard this season,” she said. “There was no goofing around.”
By the Sky-Em district championships in late October, Rasmussen was beginning to round into form.
Then, she suffered a setback.
Cottage Grove’s Breanna Wright pulled away from Rasmussen near the end of the race. Wright won with a time of 19:50. Rasmussen was second at 20:00.
“I was starting to get back to my sophomore year times, and then I lose at districts which was so depressing,” she said. “We were running side-by-side, and it was starting to get really intense with just her and me. And then, I don’t know, I just kind of gave up I guess right there at the end. I beat myself up about it for the whole week, and then I decided that instead of pouting about it, I needed to fix it.”
Rasmussen did exactly that in Saturday’s race as she beat Wright by 34 seconds.
“It sure was nice not seeing her out in front of me. Maybe it was best for me to lose at districts, because it really gave me motivation to beat her here at state,” Rasmussen said. “It’s exciting now because if I every actually find the time to run during the summer, I wonder how good I could be.”
Philomath took home a trophy after missing the state meet the past two seasons.
Freshman Meaghan Alba finished 25th overall with a time of 20:21.
Four of the Warriors’ top six finishers were freshmen.
“I was really nervous before,” Alba admitted. “It’s really big here, and there were a lot more people than there were at districts so the course felt a lot slower.”
Fellow freshman Quinn Damitio was 33rd, finishing in 21:02. Junior Jenna Grunwald was 34th at 21:09 and sophomore Kendra Sheeder finished 36th in 21:11.
“It’s great for the girls because it’s wonderful experience,” Philomath coach Joe Fulton said. “All of the top six are back next year, and the top five are back the year after that.”
Sweet Home junior Jakob Hiett tried to stick with front-running Siuslaw seniors Mitchell Butler and Mack Marbas but just didn’t have quite enough.
Butler and Marbas pulled away over the last mile and a half, with Butler winning in 15:37 and Marbas second in 15:41. Hiett, eighth as a sophomore, was third in 16:10.
“Those from Siuslaw are great, awesome competition. I always love racing against them because they really push me to do my best,” said Hiett, whose team was 13th.
“You go for your best on the day, and I think I accomplished that. I’m super happy with how I finished.”
Philomath missed out on a trophy by 16 points, taking sixth.
Warriors senior Brian Blythe struggled once he reached the track with 300 meters to go.
Fulton said Blythe was out of energy and lost control of his muscles.
Blythe, who won the Oregon West Conference district meet, finished 33rd in 17:24.
Caelin Alba led Philomath at 27th in 17:16. Mitchell Thomas was 30th in 17:18.
Had Blythe been able to stay in the top 10, the Warriors would have ended up fourth.
“He did everything he could just to stay on his feet and get across the finish line,” Fulton said. “We needed one guy up front, because that was the difference with these teams that got up there. They all had one or two guys in the top 10.
La Salle Prep was the team champion with 54.
Team scoring: La Salle Prep 54, Siuslaw 89, Phoenix 126, Marshfield 135, Tillamook 150, Philomath 151, Sisters 205, Newport 207, Scappoose 218, Crook County 234, Baker 258, North Marion 274, Sweet Home 285
Top 10 individuals: 1. Mitchell Butler, Siuslaw, 15:37; 2. Mack Marbas, Siuslaw, 15:41; 3. Jakob Hiett, Sweet Home, 16:10; 4. Will Thompson, La Salle Prep, 16:26; 5. Shane Crofoot, Hidden Valley, 16:29; 6. Seth Campbell, Siuslaw, 16:30; 7. Jefferson Farmer, Seaside, 16:32; 8. Hector Rojo, Tillamook, 16:33; 9. Dakota Pittullo, Marshfield, 16:34; 10. Brandon Pollard, Sisters, 16:38
Philomath: 27. Caelin Alba 17:16, 30. Mitchell Thomas 17:18, 33. Brian Blythe 17:24, 39. Andrew Damitio 17:36, 68. Clay Youker 18:17, 85. Tim McIlroy 18:48, 96. Jared French 19:19
Sweet Home: 3. Jakob Hiett 16:10, 67. Ian Wingo 18:16, 80. Isaac Justham 18:33, 88. Chace Hutchins 18:52, 98. Stephen Bishop 19:40, 100. Robert Gourley 19:41, 105. Joseph Rasmussen 20:48
Team scoring: Molalla 50, Phoenix 71, Siuslaw 119, Philomath 133, Sisters 164, Hidden Valley 174, North Bend 188, Cascade 197, Estacada 248, Scappoose 262, Sweet Home 281, Ridgeview 285, La Grande 309, Seaside 313
Top 10 individuals: 1. Shaylen Crook, Marshfield, 18:28; 2. Emily Bever, Molalla, 18:59; 3. Celie Mans, Siuslaw, 19:01; 4. Zaruba Anderson, Hidden Valley, 19:03; 5. Nevina Deluca, Phoenix, 19:14; 6. Nicole Rasmussen, Sweet Home, 19:18; 7. Hannah Clarizio, Molalla, 19:23; 8. Danielle Jantzer, Phoenix, 19:26; 9. Amanda Clarizio, Molalla, 19:26; 10. Charlie Davidson, Scappoose, 19:40
Philomath: 25. Meaghan Alba 20:21; 33. Quinn Damitio 21:02; 34. Jenna Grunwald 21:09; 36. Kendra Sheeder 21:11; 41. Tegan Weaver 21:21; 47. Taylor Knutson 21:34; 77. Olivia Jurva 23:06
Sweet Home: 6. Nicole Rasmussen 19:18, 66. Sierra Swanson 22:33, 71. Kayleen Keeney 22:45, 74. Natasha Rasmussen 22:57, 101. Maria Daniels 27:30, 102. Mami Sakamoto 28:59