Cross Country

Community, teammates help inspire Dinan to success

Submitted photos – Dinan and his teammates at the section meet in Hayward last weekend.

By Ray Hamill — McKinleyville junior Damian Dinan will have plenty of support when he travels to Fresno this weekend to compete at the CIF state cross country championships.

Dinan qualified after placing 14th in the North Coast Section boys Division-5 race at Hayward last weekend, and he will be the lone representative from the H-DNL.

But he won’t be traveling alone, with his teammates all making the trip in a show of support and looking forward to taking in the atmosphere of such a prestigious event that will feature not only the top runners in the state but some of the top young runners in the nation.

“The team will travel, so that’s kind of exciting,” said head coach and Damian’s mother, Jen Foesig. “They’ll see some of the top runners in the nation, and these are young athletes they look up to.”

Dinan finished last week’s three-mile section race in a time of 16 minutes, 12.9 seconds.

It was a great response for the junior, who had a disappointing showing at the H-DNL championships, where he placed second to Eureka’s Daniel Shaver after having won all six regular-season league races.

“He was just motivated,” Foesig said of the NCS race.

The junior standout has been around the local running scene since he was 5-years-old, first attending races in the county with his mother, who is a longtime member of the Six Rivers Running Club.

And she believes that has played a huge role in his development.

“I think he’s inspired by the community and the people around him,” she said.

His teammates also have a played a major role, including fellow junior Jace Thomson, who had five top-five finishes in league this year and placed sixth at the H-DNL championships.

Submitted photo – Damian Dinan in action at the NCS championships.

Thomson, who also placed 50th at the NCS, has played football in the fall in the past but switched to cross country this year in order to get better conditioned for the upcoming wrestling season.

And it’s a strategy that worked for both him and his team.

“He’s been awesome, a real positive,” Foesig said of Thomson. “He did really well, and he helps keep Damian motivated. He pushes him.”

The McKinleyville team also included seniors Aidan Davis and Koen Newell and freshman Wilson Jones, along with the lone girl on the roster, Emma Sobehrad.

Submitted photo – Dinan and his teammates at the NCS meet.

It’s a tight-knit group and they all have played a role in the team’s overall success and continue to do so with their show of support this weekend.

As for Saturday’s race, it will be a challenge for Dinan going up against so many top-class runners, but it will also be a wonderful opportunity and a great experience to compete at such a big event.

“It’s a pretty impressive (field),” Foesig said. “But we’re just hoping to improve his time.”

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