OCOSTA - "I am really pleased with our boys' times, but I am even more happy about how they ran a smart race and I'm always pleased with the effort of all our runners," Coach Scott Smith said after his squad ran to a fifth place finish at their opening cross country meet at Ocosta Saturday.

Drew Macy paced the Comets with a time of 18:52, good enough for 19th place overall. Brothers Conor and Cramer Smith had a duel for 21st place, with Conor the senior finishing a half-second better than freshman Cramer in a time of 18:57. Ollie Baker was 32nd in 20:19 and Alex Bighill finished team scoring for Naselle in a time of 24:37, good for 55th place.

"This was Ollie's first race over 400 meters and I was impressed with how he ran under control and was able to finish strong like our more experienced runners did," Coach Smith said. "And Alex's time was even better than his personal best at the end of last season on the same course in Ocosta." Macy and Conor Smith's times were above their bests of a year ago, but "in line with where we'd like to be" according to the coach.

Cramer Smith, running in his first 5,000-meter race after competing in middle school at 2,500 meters, also was impressive as he challenged his brother. Alana Darcher, running as the lone Comet girl racer, was also in her first high school race at the longer distance and she finished 20th in a time of 24:26. Mark Morris won the girls' team title followed by White Pass and Ocosta.

Middle school racer Katie Green was third among girls with a time of 11:45 and Katelyn Magie was fifth in 13:51 for Naselle. "We have four or five others who will have enough practices to compete by next week," Smith said. Mark Morris also won the boys' team championship followed by Montesano, Forks, Orting and then Naselle. The Comets finished ahead of Onalaska and North Beach while Ocosta, White Pass and Rochester ran incomplete.

About the only negative for the Comets were the mosquitoes. "You could see clouds of them hovering around the runners at the starting line. No wonder the kids ran so well," Smith joked. Smith, who has fished commercially in Alaska, said, "The mosquitoes were worse today than at any time I can remember up north."

The Comets will visit Tenino Thursday for a short-course race and hope to be at full strength by that time.

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