What started out as a competition has turned into a partnership for Redmond High cross country teammates Sarah Lord and Devin McMahon.
Lord, a senior, and McMahon, a junior, have battled back and forth over the last two seasons, but the two talented runners have bonded and been able to motivate and inspire each other along the way.
“It was much more competitive at first,” Lord said of her relationship with McMahon. “It has developed more into partnership now. It’s nice to have someone like Devin who is so dedicated and focused.”
Lord and McMahon are seeking to crack the top 5 at state again this fall and maybe even challenge for a state title. McMahon placed fourth and Lord finished fifth at the state meet. Two weeks before state at the Kingco meet, Lord beat McMahon and they finished 1-2. The very next week at the District II meet, McMahon won and Lord placed second.
“Every race is different,” Lord said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
McMahon said Lord has “a great kick at the end,” making her hard to beat. And Lord said McMahon’s intensity and focus is what makes her such a strong competitor.
Behind Lord and McMahon, the Mustang girls are ranked second among 4A schools in the state. However, McMahon has not trained for about the last month because of a low heart rate. She said she has been getting a lot of tests done and her health is improving. She is hoping to be back soon and help her team do even better than last season’s fourth-place finish at state.
Redmond coach Denis Villeneuve said McMahon’s condition is not life-threatening.
“Things are getting better for her,” he said. “We still want to be cautious and not push it.”
Lord said it has felt weird training without her partner.
“It’s not like before,” Lord said. “I would always look over my shoulder and Devin is right there. I hope she comes back soon. She is so valuable to this team.”
With a healthy McMahon, the Mustangs have a good shot at taking home some more state hardware.
Villeneuve, entering his 19th season for the Mustangs, said both girls are fairly quiet and extremely bright.
“Sarah is more relaxed, open to change and willing to try new things,” Villeneuve said. “Devin is a one-speed-type of girl: Just get out there and go.
“They get along really, really well. They are very lucky to have each other.”
Lord said she plans to run cross country and track in college, but she has not decided where yet. Right now, she is focused on leading her team.
“Team-wise we have a lot of potential,” Lord said. “We just want to save out best for last.
The Redmond boys’ team, ranked fourth in the preseason state poll, also has a solid 1-2 punch in Aiden Irish and Mack Young.
Irish finished second at the 4A Kingco meet, won at districts and then placed 20th at the state meet last fall. He is hoping to crack the top 5 at state this season – and maybe more.
“I want top five at the very, very least,” he said.
As for Young, he isn’t going into the season with huge expectations.
“I just want to try my best and contend with Aiden,” he said.
Young surprised many last fall when he finished third at the Kingco meet.
“He’s definitely one to watch this season,” Villeneuve said.
Villeneuve is fortunate to have one of the most talented cross country programs in the state. If the Mustang runners continue to improve and stay healthy, there’s no reason why both the girls and boys programs can’t bring home some state hardware.
“We got a good shot at getting more (trophies),” Villeneuve said. “Our trophy case is definitely getting crowded. We need more space.”