Cessair McKinney (left) and Kaylee Thompson (right) pass up opponents to maintain their lead in the Lumberjack Invitational on Oct. 20. | Photo by Amanda Schultz

Sophomore squad leads the way in cross country

Four different underclass athletes stamp fast times including a first-place finish Humboldt State's Cessair McKinney.

Four different underclass athletes stamp fast times including a first-place finish by Humboldt State’s Cessair McKinney

Humboldt State University men’s and women’s cross country competed early in the morning on Oct. 20 at the fog-filled Baywood Country Club in Arcata.


Women 6k sophomores Cessair McKinney and Kaylee Thompson placed one and two helping the Lumberjacks secure a team title.

McKinney and Thompson switched in placing from September’s Humboldt Invitational. This weekend schools, including Cal State Monterey Bay, Sonoma State and Lane Community College, couldn’t keep up with the HSU sophomores. Both Jacks ran together at a close pace and ahead of the pack throughout.

“We race about the same, if you see her up in the front that means I should be up there too,” McKinney said. “I felt good about this race, it’s great for our conference meet in a few weeks, I believe we are ready to go.”

McKinney finished with a winning time of 22:30 and an outstanding average mile time of 6:02. Competition for the Ladyjacks was from Monterey Baby runner Hadley Clark  who placed third just 30 seconds behind McKinney’s time.

With about a kilometer left in the race, Kaylee Thompson tapped McKinney on the side for encouragement. Their teamwork has shown results in many of the Jack’s meets.

Off the course, you can find McKinney and Thompson photobombing their coaches video interviews or doing energetic tandem forward rolls in the direction of the parking lot.

“I was just so happy that she won,” Thompson said.


Men beat Monterey Bay but narrowly took second place and fell to Lane Community College by a team total of 10 minutes and a time of 2:13:36.

Sophomore Elliot Portillo also captured second place individually, 23 seconds from first with a time of 26:03. Carson Cohn was the next Jack to cross the finish line with a 26:29 time that led to a fifth-place ranking.

Both runners acknowledge the difficulty of the course and were excited about their placings and final times. They weren’t the fastest and had problematic areas in the hills but they enjoyed this run.

Portillo credits his teams’ strong performance at the meet to vision and being able to see the competition most of the race.

“We were able to keep the guy from laying in my sights, he made a move on the third lap to gap me,” Portillo said. “I held heavy and had enough space between me and the next guy to secure second.”

Cohn said he has started to see the progress he’s made throughout the season. Just being ten seconds slower than his personal record was a huge accomplishment this weekend. He also was just four seconds slower than his Bronco Invitational time last week at a much faster course.

“It’s much more open here, you don’t get stuck in the single track behind guys,” Cohn said. “Gutsy race, great time, I just kind of went for it.”

Head coach Jamey Harris will prepare both men’s and women’s squad for CCAA championships after this weekend’s final season invitational.

“Big strides at a challenging course,” Harris said. “There’s real progress and we’ll carry that momentum going into the championships.”

Catch the Jacks Nov. 3 in San Bernardino for the CCAA Championships.

Women place and time top 10, 6K

McKinney 22:30 1st

Thompson 22:51 2nd

Gillick 23:34 8th

Melville 23:46 10th

Men place and time top 10, 8K

Portillo 26:03 2nd

Cohn 26:29 5th

Halter 26:57 9th

Ruehrwein 26:58 10th


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