Redmond High’s cross country coach has seen improvement over the course of the season.

“Our goal is to close the gap on the other teams and we feel like we’ve done that,” Melissa Conley said at a practice last week.

Closing the gap is a recurring theme with the Panthers in the revamped Intermountain Conference, which has its district meet Wednesday at Barnes Butte in Prineville. While the Redmond schools often finished well behind the larger Bend schools before they moved on to Class 6A, Conley said the competition should be tighter now.

On the boys side, Hood River Valley, The Dalles and host Crook County look like the strongest teams, with Pendleton, Redmond and Ridgeview competing for fourth place, said Melissa Conley and her husband, Tim Conley, the Panthers’ track head coach.

“We felt like when we competed against the Bend teams, we didn’t really have a chance,” Melissa Conley said. “But now we feel like we can compete.”

Hood River and The Dalles should be tops in girls, with the other four teams behind them.

Of Redmond’s top five boys finishers at its most recent meet, the Oct. 13 Warner Pacific meet in Portland, only Connor Agnew, who led the Panthers with a time of 17 minutes, 25.1 seconds, is a senior.

“Since their so young, we’re just trying to see the future, knowing each year they’ll get better,” Melissa Conley said. “They’re really hard working and focused kids.”

Agnew is feeling good about his last district met.

“I’ve improved nearly every race, I’m just trying hard and believing in my coaches,” he said.

On the girls side, Melissa Conley has been pleased to see all the personal records the team has set.

“We’re going to need more people, but the five that are returning are strong, hard working and really good kids,” she said.

Sophomore Genna Taylor led Redmond at the Warner Pacific meet, finishing 33rd with a time of 21:06.2.

With a small team, the girls hope to get more students interested in the sport.

“The team is really awesome, we’re all really close,” said senior Genevieve Burk.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186,