By Mathew Brock

Pilot Sports Writer

The Bruins cross country team began its season with a young group in a new league, but ended up thriving and laying the foundation for a powerful run the next few years. Not only did they conquer their new league, but they also made a strong showing at the state level.

“Our season really went well and was just a good time. The kids are excited and we’re already talking about what we need to do next year,” Bruins coach Terry Axel said. “There are a lot of good runners coming back for us next year and it’s really exciting to have a freshman in the Top 10 at state.”

The Bruins wrapped things up for the season last week at their annual awards banquet.

Kaleb Barnes was MVP for the boys team and was district champion. Barnes also received first team all conference and first team all state honors.

Daniel Strom was most inspirational for the Bruins boys while Everest Abblitt was Rookie of the Year. Most improved was Everett Van Maren.

For the girls, Alana Willis-Blunt was awarded team MVP for the Bruins, while Alexi Contreras was awarded most inspirational.

Miranda Quayle was awarded most improved and Meagan Pearson received rookie of the year.

Axel was awarded coach of the year by the league and the team also go together to get Axel a customized golf disc to commemorate the team’s accomplishments this year.

While the girls team struggled much of the season with fielding the numbers for a full team, the boys took first in the league led by freshman Kaleb Barnes as their frontrunner. Barnes secured the top ranked spot midway through the season and led the team to victory at districts.

In the end, Barnes came in seventh overall at state, with the Bruins taking sixth place out of nine teams with 133 points. Axel was impressed at the Bruin’s performance overall this year and is looking forward to strong season next year, especially with Barnes leading the team.

According to Axel, Barnes had the potential to place much higher this year, but misjudged the length of the state course and ended up wasting some potential during his final race of the year.

“He’s a freshman and ran a good race. He got outsmarted and moved ahead in the field, but he had a lot left in the tank when he hit that last 100 yards,” Axel said.

Regardless, Axel is looking forward to next year and building a strong program moving forward.

The Bruins began their season strong when they hosted their first meet at Brookings-Harbor High School. The Bruins took third for the boys with 82 points after being beaten out by North Medford and Fortuna while the girls took third with 74 behind Arcata and Phoenix.

It wasn’t until two weeks later at the North Bend Tugman Invitational that the Bruins gained real traction. With Kaleb Barnes taking first with a new PR, the Bruins boys were bumped up to first in the league and third at the state level.

The Bruins maintained their lead for the rest of the season, culminating in a first-place victory at districts with 31 points, with Barnes leading the meet in first. The girls ended their season their season there by taking eight place with 222 points, while the boys advanced to end at state.

You can learn more about the Bruins and find a complete list of results and stats for the Bruins runners at https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/School.aspx?SchoolID=163.

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