CORVALLIS — The question the past three years has been by how much Ahmed Muhumed would win the Greater Valley Conference district cross country championship.
There was no question that he would win it.
The West Salem High School senior won his third consecutive district title Wednesday, completing the 5,000 meter course at Crystal Lake Sports Park in 15:23, nine seconds in front of second-place Zane Fodge of McMinnville.
This win was the closest he’s had in a district race.
“Every single year was like starting all over,” Muhumed said. “I would do the off-season workouts and stuff. It would be like starting from scratch because you would take a few weeks off.
“Just to do that and be able to come back at the time I needed to be, it’s definitely worth giving the third title a shot.”
Though Muhumed is one of the most dynamic distance runners ever in Salem, he was content to let the rest of the leaders hang with him at the start of the race.
He kept a slow pace over the slightly squishy course early and was content to run with the leaders for the first couple of miles.
But in the final mile he snatched the lead and pulled away to win.
“There wasn’t really a strategy,” said Muhumed, last year’s 6A state champion. “It was more like I felt like going easy to begin with and just finish strong. I was away for a college visit this past weekend so I got back yesterday. My goal was just to really defend the title.”
Forest Grove won the team championship, beating West Salem 42-44, though West Salem’s team of Muhumed, Fabian Elizondo Jr., Ben Johnson, Hunter Schiess, Brennen Le Bel, Logan Divelbiss and Cameron Douglas qualifies for the Nov. 5 OSAA Class 6A state meet at Lane Community College.
Third place McMinnville and South Salem’s Jay Grant (seventh) and Thomas Burney (eighth) qualified as well.
In the girls side of the meet, Sprague sophomore Ginger Murnieks set a blistering pace and led from start to finish to win in 18:24.
Murnieks placed second to Anna Chau of South Salem as a freshman, but gave up soccer to concentrate on cross country this season.
“It’s exciting,” Murnieks said. “It’s a big blessing after track because I was injured. To be able to come back and do well at this is just a blessing.”
Murnieks got off to a fast start and Chau ran in second much of the race, but towards the end Sprague junior Kaylee Mitchell pushed forward and finished second in 18:41 with Chau third (19:14) and North Salem junior Madison Willhoft in fourth.
Forest Grove won its third consecutive district championship with 51 points, beating Sprague’s 43 points and McMinnville’s 86.
Sprague’s team of Murnieks, Mitchell, Elise Abbott, Ellie Stuart, Riely White, Emily Dixon and Sydney Dougherty qualify for the state meet, as do Willhoft and West Salem’s Jaden Mandel.
In Wednesday’s Mid-Willamette Conference district meet at Lebanon’s Waterloo Park, Silverton won the boys team race by one point – 73 to 74 – better than Crescent Valley.
Corvallis’ Ian Vickstrom won the boys individual title in 16:26 with Dallas sophomore Trevor Cross in second at 16:28, Silverton senior Hosea Catterall third in 16:32 and Woodburn’s Geovani Bravo fourth in 16:35.
Crescent Valley won the girls team title with McKennz Henke winning in 18:18. Silverton’s Jori Paradis was eighth in 20:05.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler