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?
Cavaliers take advantage of turnover-filled game to advance to quarters
Dec. 27, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
LAKE OSWEGO - Clackamas survived a rough opening-day performance and moved into the quarterfinals of the Nike Interstate Shootout with a 57-45 victory over St. Mary's Academy Thursday.
Junior forward Sydney Azorr scored 18 points and senior guard Deeshyra Thomas added 13 to lead the Cavaliers, who will play Beaverton Friday at 7 p.m.
With the game tied at 24 entering the third quarter, St. Mary's burst to a five-point lead when it forced turnovers on five consecutive Clackamas possessions. But, the five-point lead didn't last as the Cavaliers ratcheted up their defense and caused consistent turnovers the remainder of the game.
A 15-2 run put Clackamas ahead 39-31 and St. Mary's got no closer than five thereafter.
Clackamas shot 23 free throws in the second half, making 10. For the game, the Cavs were 15 of 29.
Martina McCowan and Nae Torregano scored 10 points each to lead St. Mary's.
State champions Thompson and Rice win easily to qualify for state
Oct. 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
The defending state champions at Class 6A ran as they were expected and won the individual titles at the Mt. Hood Conference district cross country meet Wednesday at Centennial High School.
Kyle Thompson, a junior at Central Catholic, won the boys race by 25 seconds over Barlow senior Jackson Haselnus, while Paige Rice, a junior at St. Mary's Academy, won the girls race by nearly 17 seconds over senior teammate Ellen Patterson.
Rice, who won last year's state title by one second, set a personal record for a 5,000-meter course, finishing in 17 minutes, 46 seconds. St. Mary's easily won the girls meet with all seven of its team members placing in the top 10.
Central Catholic won the boys meet by placing its five scoring runners in the top 8.
Barlow finished second in the boys meet and Gresham finished second in the girls meet to each qualify for the state championships, scheduled for Nov. 3, at Lane Community College.
1. Central Catholic 26, Barlow 53, Reynolds 62, Centennial 94, David Douglas 134, Gresham, inc.
1. St. Mary's Academy 21, Gresham 77, Barlow 100, Reynolds 104, Central Catholic 106, David Douglas 111, Centennial 214.
Depth propels both Grizzlies and Crusaders to favored spots in 6A meet
Feb. 17, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
McMinnville returned to the top of the state's swim programs with championship-caliber depth Friday after the preliminary heats at the OSAA state swimming championships.
With its three relays all set for finals - two of them having qualified first or second - and three finalists in the 100 butterfly, the Grizzlies are poised to win their first state title since 2002.
McMinnville's line-up, led by seniors Matthew Valentine and Blake Tillery, appears on the way to scoring more than 180 points, while defending champion Sunset is in the 160-point range. Grant, which won two years ago and placed second last year, is headed for a total of around 130.
In the girls race, Lake Oswego's strong challenge to Jesuit hit a major snag when its 200 medley relay team was disqualified. Sophomore Sarah Kauniz posted an All-America time in the 100 backstroke for the Lakers and also qualified first for the finals in another and senior Catherine Yee qualified second and fourth in two finals. Their other two relay teams qualified first and second.
Jesuit, the three-time defending champion, qualified all three of its relay teams either first or second.
The championships conclude Saturday at the Mt. Hood Community College Aquatics Center.
With many students from many diverse cultures, Central Catholic’s Diversity Club, now has joined forces with Rachel’s Challenge and the African American Students United. The club has seen a positive growth of people, since they united with the AASU and Rachel’s Challenge. Many adults at Central Catholic have also volunteered their time to the club, including Megan Bruce, Molly Reuscher, Ms. Jaeger, Mr. Hutson, Teri Calcagno, Scott Williams, and Mrs. Loughran.