WASHOUGAL, Wash. (KOIN) – Washougal High School’s Gabriel Dinnel smiles when asked about his record-breaking freshman year in cross-country last season.
“It felt really good,” said Dinnel. “It gave me a lot of confidence in what I could do in the future.”
“He absolutely destroyed the freshman record at [The] Nike [Portland XC last season],” Aiden Pullen, a senior on the Washougal cross-country team, said. “[He ran] a 16:37.7 [in the 5K] as a freshman.”
“Gabriel started the season last year as a freshman as heralded as one of the better freshman in the state of Washington,” Terry Howard, Washougal’s head varsity boys and girls cross-country coach, said.
But then something happened to Dinnel after a very tough cross-country workout last year.
“We had a meet on Wednesday and our team ran hard on both of those days, and I guess that’s when the problems starting coming up. The hamstring got really tight, and I started noticing a lot more pain than normal,” said Dinnel.
“He went through a big long growing spurt this past year, and [that] caused [some] injuries along the way. We still ran him at the district meet hoping to be in the mid 17 minute range [for the 5K] but it was kind of disastrous as he faded all the way back,” said Howard.
“It was like in my right hip area,” said Dinnel when asked about the injury. “[It] had something to do with a hamstring.”
“It looks like the MRI showed that he did have a slight muscle tear; a hamstring tear,” said Howard. “So he had to sit out for four months and rehab. ”
After taking a few months off, Dinnel has bounced back very nicely. Dinnel raced to a first-place finish in the season opening Nike Ultimook Race XC Invitational in Tillamook, Ore., where he finished the 5K course in 17:10.4
“He ran faster than any of the kids from the big schools as well there,” said Howard.
Dinnel holds a cross-country 5K best of 16:36.2, clocked at the Nike Portland XC meet in Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 24.
“He tripped on a hay bale but he still matched his time from last year, which means he’s doing way better than he was last year,” said Pullen.
Dinnel said one of his goals is to win a cross-country state title before he graduates from Washougal.
“That would just be an awesome feeling – an awesome experience – and I would love to do it with the team I have right now.”