By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
Cross country's perfect score.
In order to achieve such a feat, a team must have their top five runners finish in first through fifth place.
On Saturday, the Brookings-Harbor High School boys' cross country team met that mark and surpassed it at the Ben Creek Invitational in Gold Beach.
Instead of just the top five runners at the meet, the Bruins brought home the first six places in their first cross country meet of the year.
"It's so above and beyond what I expected," Coach Terry Axel said. "I expected us to be in the mix, but that was an absolute blowout."
The Bruins return their top six runners from last year and will look to give defending state champions North Bend a run for the Far West League title.
"As good as our team is, I would've never thought we'd go one through six," Axel said.
As the runners made their way along the beach portion of the course, the six Bruins led the pack in a single file line, with Steven Sanders leading the way.
The Bruins were able to keep their pace and separate themselves from the rest of the pack, with the top six Bruins finishing within 36 seconds of each other.
Sanders took the win for the Bruins with a time of 15:20, followed by Alec Rosenthal in second at 15:35.
Linden Loren, who was running despite having some aggravated ribs, took third with a time of 15:42, with Kevin Sthen on his heels in fourth at 15:48.
Chris Neighbor rounded out the scoring for the Bruins in fifth at 15:52 and Willie Bennett finished sixth at 15:56.
Also running for the Bruins was Gage Northrup, who took 15th with a time of 16:45 and Tim Hunter, who finished 24th at 17:51.
The times look exceptional because Sanders and the Bruins accidentally turned early, which cut some distance and time off of the course.
But because all of the athletes followed in turn, there could not be any disqualifications.
"I'm not as worried about the times as I am excited about them finishing first through sixth," Axel said.
In the team standings, the Bruins took first with a perfect 15 points, followed by Arcata (52), McKinleyville (86) and Pacific (97).
The girls' team also had a productive day, taking second place overall.
"I'm really happy with the way they looked," Axel said. "Those morning workouts are paying off."
Amy Axel led the way for the Bruins with an eighth place finish and a time of 23:58.
Nicole Ledford, who stayed with Axel for the majority of the race, was the next Bruin finisher in 11th place with a time of 24:12.
The next four Bruin finishers came in within one minute of each other.
Krista Watterson finished in 19th place at 26:18, followed by Andi Gutierrez in 20th at 26:40, Charlotte Smith in 21st at 26:56 and Lisa Bernhard in 22nd at 27:14.
Rounding out the field for the Bruins was Marianne Neighbor in 28th at 29:28 and Rachel Carrillo in 31st at 31:52.
The next meet for the Bruins is their only home meet of the year. The Brookings Invitational is Saturday, Sept. 15, with the race starting at Brookings-Harbor High School. The girls race begins at 11 a.m. with the boys race to follow.