Grant senior preps for state title defense, Wilson eyes a surprise
Oct. 21, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - Grant senior Ella Donaghu got the kind of run she hoped for as preparation for the state cross country meet - even if she didn't get the race she wanted.
Donaghu, the defending Class 6A state champion, ran to victory by more than a minute at the PIL District championships, helping her team win as well at Fernhill Park in Northeast Portland. Her time of 17 minutes, 42.6 seconds established an unofficial meet record.
Lincoln freshman Kyla Becker finished second in 18:59.4. The Cardinals finished second as a team.
In the boys final, Wilson sophomore Alex Slenning took charge at the mid-point and ran to victory, helping the Trojans upset favored Lincoln in the team race as well.
Slenning won at 15:42.5, with junior teammate Caleb Seely finishing second in 15:54.4.
Lincoln, led by senior Avi Meyer (15:57.3) in third, placed all five of its scoring runners in the top 10, and all seven of its runners in the top 16, but Wilson's second-half surge earned the team win as it placed its five scoring runners in the top 15. Lincoln held five of the top 6 spots at 2,500 meters before fading.
Both Wilson and Lincoln are headed to the state meet with visions of winning, which would give the district its first boys team champion since 1983.
The OSAA championships are set for Lane Community College in Eugene, Oct. 31. Central Catholic has won the past three boys titles and eight of the last 12. South Eugene is the defending girls champion.
Cross country teams will pare down to state finalists soon
Oct. 12, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
With less than a fortnight before the first OSAA state finals, cross country teams across Oregon are beginning final preparations for the district/league/conference finals that will result in the line-ups for the championships, Oct. 31, in Eugene.
Most of the meets will take place Oct. 21, from Portland to Grants Pass.
The state is divided into four classifications for cross country.
Summit enters with the state's longest run of championships, with its girls team having won the past seven Class 5A finals. Union/Cove has a run of four consecutive Class 3A girls titles, the Summit boys have a run of four-straight 5A titles and Central Catholic has won the last three 6A boys titles.
Here are the district meet venues.
Wed., Oct. 21
PIL - Fernwood Park, Portland
METRO - Tualatin Hills Recreation Center, Beaverton
METRO - Centennial High, Gresham
THREE RIVERS - Clackamas Community College, Oregon City
GREATER VALLEY - Bush Park, Salem
SOUTHWEST - All Sports Park, Grants Pass
Wed., Oct 21
MID-WILLAMETTE - Crystal Lake Sports Park, Corvallis
MIDWESTERN - Jackson County Expo Center, Central Point
NORTHWEST OREGON - Meriwether National Golf Club, Hillsboro
Fri., Oct. 23
INTERMOUNTAIN - Drake Park, Bend
Sat. Oct. 24
COLUMBIA RIVER - Sorosis Park, The Dalles
Wed., Oct. 21
TRI-VALLEY - McIver State Park, Estacada
SKYLINE - Jackson County Expo Center, Central Point
SKY-EM - Lane Community College, Eugene
COWAPA - Camp Rilea, Seaside
Thurs., Oct. 22
FAR WEST - Tugman State Park, North Bend
Fri., Oct. 23
GREATER OREGON - Baker City Golf Course
Sat., Oct. 24
OREGON WEST - Willamette Mission State Park, Brooks
Thurs., Oct. 22
DISTRICT 1 - Tualatin Hills Recreation Center, Beaverton
Sept. 26, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - Sunset freshman Ember Stratton helped put her team squarely in the role of favorite to win the girls state cross country title with an individual victory at the Nike XC Portland meet Saturday at Portland Meadows.
And, her teammates followed her lead.
Stratton ran to a six-second victory over the 5,000-meter course, and the Apollos won the team title scoring just 50 points on the sun-filled day.
Sunset easily beat Cherry Creek, Colo., to win the team title, with Summit of Bend third.
Summit's standout senior set the meet record at state championships
Nov. 1, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
EUGENE - Mathew Maton did exactly what everyone thought he would do Saturday at the OSAA Cross Country State Championships, and the crowd at Lane Community College got a special celebration with it.
Maton, a senior at Bend's Summit High, broke Galen Rupp's meet record in the 5,000 meters by nine seconds, finishing the Class 5A meet in 14 minutes, 46 seconds. Following the race, organizers located Rupp via cell phone and he congratulated Maton, which led to individual medals being handed out by Rupp's high school coach - Alberto Salazar.
"It was a pretty difficult race going after the race, and I almost gave up on that," Maton said afterward. "It was in the middle of the race where there's no crowd and I didn't have anyone cheering me on.
"But, I was here, and this was my shot, so I just went for it."
Maton's win helped the Storm win their fourth-straight team title. The school's girls team also won the 5A team title - its seventh straight. Summit sophomore Olivia Powell won the individual title.
Individually, Grant junior Ella Donaghu repeated as Class 6A champion, while South Eugene won the team title.
Reilly Bloomer of South Eugene won the Class 6A boys title, and helped his team finish second to Central Catholic, which won its third-straight title.
At Class 4A, Valley Catholic won the boys team title, while Sweet Home senior Jakob Hiett won the individual title.
Phoenix won the Class 4A girls team title, with Henley junior Lexi Healy taking the individual title.
Fabian Cardenas of Umatilla won the Class 3A boys title, while Catlin Gabel won the team title.
Bandon freshman Sailor Hutton won the Class 3A girls meet, while Union/Cove won the team title for the fourth-straight year.
The meet was especially memorable for the Bloomer family - well past the Class 6A individual win. Delaney Bloomer finished 27th in the meet, but was the deciding factor in her team's victory as both South Eugene and Sunset scored 66 points among their first five runners. The sixth finisher breaks such a tie, and Delaney finished two spots - three seconds - ahead of Sunset's sixth finisher.
The Nike Cross Nationals appear headed for snow on top of ice
Dec. 5, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - Cold air and even snow won't just be part of Saturday for the Portland area, but part of the nation - at Portland Meadows.
High school cross country teams from across the U.S. are set to take part in the annual Nike Cross Nationals, a 5,000-meter race inside the horse race track that attracts most of the top runners in the nation.
Although it's been cold at the race in the past, forecasts expect temperatures in the 20s with the possiblity of snow on the course.
The girls race is likely to attract significant attention as Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley, Calif., races for her third-straight win. Baxter enters the race having never lost a high school race, including the NXN as a sophomore and junior. Saturday, she'll compete against Mary Cain of Bronxville, N.Y., who turned pro at the age of 17 in November and is being coached by Alberto Salazar through the Nike Oregon Project.
Here are the previous winners of the meet, which is in its 10th running.
Oregon will be represented by Grant sophomore Ella Donaghu and Summit High junior Hannah Gindlesperger in the girls race, and by junior Reilly Bloomer of South Eugene and senior Ahmed Ibrahim of Reynolds as well as the Central Catholic boys team, which won the Class 6A OSAA title and received an at-large bid after finishing third in the Northwest Region qualifier.
The club team from Fayetteville-Manlius in upstate New York will be looking for its eighth-straight team title.
The girls race is set for 10 a.m., with the boys race at 11:30 a.m.
Thompson leads Central Catholic to repeat win; Summit dominates again
Nov. 2, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
EUGENE - Anyone who expected close finish at the OSAA Cross Country State Meet Saturday got one in the final race of the day - when Kyle Thompson of Central Catholic and Reilly Bloomer of South Eugene hit the track at Lane Community College within meters of one another.
Bloomer put on a burst in an attempt to catch Thompson as the crowd cheered for just such a move. But, Thompson reacted with his own surge and cast Bloomer's late rally aside to win the race in 15 minutes, 22 seconds and return to the role of state champion he took on as a sophomore before finishing third last year.
"It feels really good to be state champion again," Thompson said. "That was a great race to win, the kind I like. It's fun when the crowd gets all into the race."
Saturday's races were marked by strong performances from state champion runners, who largely ran away from their fields by midrace.
CLASS 6A -Thompson's five-second win over Bloomer helped the Rams score just 33 points - the low team total of the day - for their seventh win in 11 years.
CLASS 5A -Junior Matthew Maton of Summit turned in the best performance of the day on the boys side by finishing in 14:59, which beat the field by 51 seconds. The Storm won the team title as well for the third straight year.
CLASS 4A - Senior Mitchell Butler of Siuslaw moved up from second in the 2012 race to the individual title, crossing the finish line in 15:37 and edging teammate Mack Marbas by four seconds. The top two finish didn't stop LaSalle of Milwaukie, though, from winning the school's first team title.
CLASS 3A - Senior David Ribich became only the third runner from Enterprise to win a state title with a 13-second win over Creswell senior Zach Bellew, clearing the course in 15:58. Valley Catholic won the team title for the second time in three years led by senior Cooper Roach and junior Wilder Boyden, who both finished in 16:39.
CLASS 6A - Sophomore Ella Donaghu of Grant, whose fourth-place run last year was a key to her school winning the team title, bested last year's champion, junior Sara Tsai of South Eugene, by 24 seconds, winning in 18:01. Sunset, led by senior Charlotte Corless, won the team title for the first time in three decades.
CLASS 5A - Summit sophomore Hannah Gindlesperger put on one of the top performances of the day by finishing in 17:53, which won her race by 44 seconds over freshman teammate Olivia Brooks. The Storm easily won the team title for the sixth straight year.
CLASS 4A - Senior Shaylen Crook used her school's drop from Class 5A to 4A and inspiration from just clearing the 19-minute mark to become Marhfield's first girls individual champion. Crook, the lone runner from Marshfield in the race, finished in 18:28 and won by 31 seconds over Molalla senior Emily Bever. Bever scored a win, though, in the team race, which the Indians won for the first time.
CLASS 3A - Union won the team race for the third straight year led by seniors McKenzie Powell and Katriel O'Reilly, who switched spots atop the individual standings from last year when O'Reilly won by 17 seconds. This year Powell won by 21 seconds.
There's more to winning than just finishing first in cross country's team races
Nov. 1, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
It's right there in vivid color from a year ago, the final feet of the OSAA Cross Country state finals.
With St. Mary's and Grant expecting a tight race for the girls Class 6A team title, junior Paige Rice of St. Mary's bore down on Grant freshman Ella Donaghu on the track and Lane Community College - the clock keeping track of time clearly in sight.
Rice, the defending state champion, had not had an optimal performance and was headed for fourth or fifth as she ramped up to a full sprint.
Donaghu had run alongside senior teammate Parkes Kendrick until the final corner and was near collapse having spent her energy on the first 4,980 meters of the 5,000-meter course. Rice caught her - nearly.
The timing chip attached to each runner's shoe clocked both runners in with the same time - 18 minutes, one second, but Donaghu finished fourth with Rice fifth. Another foot and the results would likely have been reversed. In the overall team standings that foot gave Grant the team championship, 66-68, over St. Mary's. Had the positions been reversed the teams would have tied, giving the Blues a share of the school's second state title.
Instead, Grant won its second title, having won the first girls title in 1974.
Even though Rice had an individual title to her name from her sophomore season, that closing burst has stuck with her through the past year.
"That's been there all year," she said after winning the Mount Hood Conference title for the third straight year last week. "This is my shot at redemption."
The drama at the finish of last year's race is one of the reasons the cross country finals the best team event on the OSAA schedule. Each runner competes in two or three races, depending on their school's district results. They race themselves and their personal best, they race the other individuals for placing in the overall standings, and they race runners from other teams, with each placing making a difference in the team standings.
Every year, the team title of at least one of the eight races is decided by that foot or two that separated Rice and Donaghu - often its between runners from the teams battling for first and second.
What puts the cross country finals ahead of other championships is that foot is often between runners well behind the individual champion - those boys or girls dueling for 18th or 33rd or 60th place.
The weight of scoring for each team's top five runners is equal, making those final feet as valuable for fourth as it is for all other spots, regardless of what school the other runner is from so long as its one involved in team scoring.
At Class 3A boys, Union beat East Linn Christian by one point - 93-94. In the final standings, East Linn Christian senior Kody Osborne finished eighth in 16:48. But he finished in a three-man rush in which two other runners were also timed in 18:46 - both ahead of him. Second in the rush was Rich Fettig of Westside Christian, which finished sixth in the team standings. Had Osborne edged Fettig his school would have celebrated its first team title. But, its a result each of the other four members of his team can reflect on - all of them finishing within three seconds of the runner ahead of them.
In the case of St. Mary's, its second finisher, senior Ellen Patterson, was timed in 18:37 - the exact time of West Salem freshman Brooke Chuhlantseff, but Patterson placed eighth in the team scoring instead of seventh. The Blues other three scoring runners all placed within two seconds of the runner ahead of them - each spot making that critical difference in team scoring.
Of course, it works both ways as some runners do catch the person in front of them and that's what makes the team scoring as close as it becomes. That's the drama of the cross country team finals - there's no scoreboard that lets a runner know how those final meters will impact the team scoring. In those final meters, the race is in each runner's head.
Rice's finish - Donaghu's too, though, ended up having the most drama of the 2012 championships as it was between runners in direct competition in overall scoring, which involves a two-point swing. It's what will drive runners Saturday as they look ahead at the starting line, then look to the right and left at others in the race. The final seconds before the opening gun, those are the ones where everyone on a seven-member team will wonder who will be ahead or behind them in the final meters and will they be able to catch or hold onto their spot on behalf of their school?
The Blues and Rams dominate the Mount Hood Conference meet
Oct. 23, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
Seniors Kyle Thompson and Paige Rice both passed the first big test of their 2013 cross country seasons Wednesday by winning the Mount Hood Conference championship at Centennial High School.
Thompson won his third straight title to lead Central Catholic to the team championship, while Rice won her fourth straight title and led St. Mary's to the team title.
The next test is Nov. 2 at the Class 6A state meet, where both will be looking to return to the top of the podium, where they shared the spotlight as sophomores after winning state championships.
Thompson pumped up his season by setting a personal best in the 5,000 meters for the season, winning in 15 minutes, 17 seconds on the relatively flat course. His time eclipsed his time from last season by seven seconds.
Rice won in 18:19, a time that was nearly 33 seconds off her winning time from a year ago. But, she still won by more than 16 seconds.
In the team standings, Reynolds edged David Douglas for second by one point, which boiled down to 1.40 seconds when its fifth finishers, senior Grant Turner, edged the fifth finisher from David Douglas, senior Kylan Carlson, by that margin.
Gresham edged Reynolds by three points for second in the girls meet, which qualified the team for the state meet.
The top two teams from each of the six Class 6A districts advance to the state meet at Lane Community College.
The Generals win a rare girls title amid a flurry of regular champions
Nov. 3, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Sparked by a third-place finish from senior Parkes Kendrick, the Grant High girls cross country team won the Class 6A team title at the OSAA state meet Saturday, scoring a win for a Portland school for the first time in the meet since 1978.
Kendrick finished just ahead of freshman teammate Ella Donaghu in the race and the Generals, who were seventh in the meet last year, won the school's second title - the other coming in 1974, the first year girls championships were held for the sport.
Central Catholic reclaimed the team title in the Class 6A boys race.
In Class 5A, Summit won the boys and girls team titles for the second consecutive year.
In Class 4A, Siuslaw scored a meet-low 29 points to win the boys race, while La Salle won the girls race for its first team title.
Nov. 2, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
The annual gathering of runners from high schools across Oregon is the start to the OSAA state championship season, and Central Catholic is poised to become the dominant program, at least in Fall.
Not only to the Rams have the defending Class 6A individual champion in junior Kyle Thompson, but the team is among the favorites to win in the final event of a day that begins with the Class 3A girls final at 10 a.m.
Thompson is one of five returning champions who'll battle the 5,000-meter course at Lane Community College. St. Mary's junior Paige Rice won the Class 6A girls title, Summit senior Travis Neuman won at Class 5A boys, Klamath Union senior Alisha Luna won at 4A girls, and Creswell sophomore Olivia Powell won at Class 3A girls.
Outside of the Class 4A race, which Siuslaw is an overwhelming favorite to win, most of the team races figure to be highly competitive as they were last year when Scappoose edged Klamath Union by just one point.
Rice won the most competitive individual title, edging South Eugene's Sara Tsai by one second.