Josiah Tostenson (left) overtook Crater teammates Tayvon Kitchen (right) and Shaun Garnica on Thursday. (Photo by Molly Bermea)
Josiah Tostenson (left) overtook Crater teammates Tayvon Kitchen (right) and Shaun Garnica on Thursday. (Photo by Molly Bermea)

Host Crater lit up the track Thursday night in the Crater Twilight Invitational cross country meet.

The Comets took the top three spots in the boys race with juniors Josiah Tostenson and Tayvon Kitchen and senior Shaun Garnica, who all recorded top-five times in the state this season.

Crater junior Emma West set a school record in finishing second in the girls race to senior Mattie Whipple of Yreka (Calif.). West's time of 17:46.95 shattered the old mark of 18:08.7, set by Kayleigh Tyerman in 2008.

Tostenson (14:38.4) and Kitchen (14:41.4) now own the state's best times this season and Garnica (14:54.1) stands at No. 5. Kitchen led the trio through the first 10 laps and jockeyed the rest of the way with Tostenson, who poured it on in the last 200 meters to win.

“Josiah closes really well. He's a 4:06 miler,” Crater coach Justin Loftus said. “That's one of the things Tayvon needs to work on.”

The performance provided a boost for Tostenson. He improved on his previous best of 15:03.4, set at the Crater Twilight two years ago.

“He was locked in with Tayvon and Shaun,” Loftus said. “It's great to have him get some confidence going into postseason, for sure.”

Tostenson entered Crater with much fanfare after setting a national middle school record in the mile (4:23.98) at the Nike Outdoor Nationals as an eighth-grader.

As a freshman, Tostenson was second in the 5A cross country meet to teammate Tyrone Gorze and dueled with Gorze at the state track meet, winning the 1,500 and placing second in the 3,000. As a sophomore, he finished sixth in the 5A cross country championships and took fourth in the 500 and 13th in the 3,000 at the state track meet.

Tostenson has been dealing with anxiety in competition.

“I had a lot of doubt in my mind,” Tostenson told the Rogue Valley Times. “But I just kept telling myself that I’ve got to forget about it, so it feels good to finally pull out a win.”

Loftus said Tostenson's anxiety has come not only from “pressure and hype,” but personal issues.

“There's more behind the scenes than just showing up and being nervous about a race,” Loftus said. “He was at center stage as an eighth- and ninth-grader. It makes it a little hard to transition. He responded great Thursday. He's feeling more confident.”

Tostenson's role on the team has changed now that Gorze, the two-time 5A champion, has moved on to a college career at Washington.

“Ty definitely deflected pressure,” Loftus said. “He was the star and had the limelight on him, and Josiah was always trying to reach that level. I definitely think that's changed things, not having Ty there, pushing workouts. It's different.”

Crater's boys team came back one day after the Crater Twilight to compete in the Rose City Invitational at Rose City Golf Course in Portland. Kitchen (sixth), Garnica (10th) and Tostenson (18th) finished well behind the winner, Wells senior Asher Danielson.

“I didn't have any expectations going in,” Loftus said. “I just wanted them to get a hard effort in and get a vibe on the competition.”

West, who placed fifth in the girls state meet last year, posted the No. 7 time in the state this year at the Crater Twilight. She took nearly one minute off her previous personal best (18:42.6) by breaking the 18-minute barrier.

“I have been wanting to do that since last year at state when I ran an 18:42,” West told the Rogue Valley Times. “It was just such a big goal of mine to break 18 minutes here and I'm just so ecstatic about it.

“I never would have imagined that I would do it here if you told me I would have broken 18 today. I just think it's such an incredible experience to do it.”

Loftus said that West is “running phenomenal. She's fearless right now. It's nice to see her really break out.”

Wisniewski dominates Rose City

It seems every time Crescent Valley junior Emily Wisniewski steps on the course, she does something special.

Friday in the Rose City Invitational, Wisniewski took another six seconds off her personal best by winning in 16:27.2. She pulled away from the runner-up, Lakeridge junior Chloe Huyler, who recorded the No. 2 time in the state this season (17:00.3)

Wisniewski, the two-time 5A champion, is ranked No. 3 in the nation among high school runners this season behind Texas sophomore Elizabeth Leachman (15:55.0) and Michigan senior Rachel Forsyth (16:18.4).

Lincoln finished first among the 20 teams at the meet, scoring 68 points to beat Lakeridge (116) and Lake Oswego (125). The Cardinals were led by a third-place finish from freshman Ellery Lincoln (17:21.1).

In the boys race, Wells senior Asher Danielson picked up his fifth victory of the season, clocking 14:47.4 to hold off Summit senior Noah Laughlin-Hall (14:53.1). The performances rank Danielson and Laughlin-Hall third and fourth, respectively, in the state this season.

Franklin scored 62 points to defeat Summit (95) and Crater (107) for first place out of 20 teams. The Lightning's top finisher was junior Zafer Courcelle (ninth).

Champoeg Invitational

Corvallis swept the team titles in the Champoeg Invitational on Friday at Champoeg State Park.

The Spartans held off Valley Catholic 65-70 in the 12-team girls race and beat the Valiants 66-78 in the 15-team boys race.

Canby junior MacKenzie Bigej took the girls title in 17:37.69, beating Valley Catholic junior Jaya Simmons (17:50.62) and Corvallis senior Kate Middleton (18:37.78)

South Albany held the top two spots in the boys race with senior Matthew Resnik (15:28.69) and junior Zander Campbell (15:49.18). Corvallis junior Cole Fiegener (15:56.50) was third.