Conditions were reasonably benign for middle-distance runners on Saturday with a moderate temperature and a slight breeze. The girls’ 4A was the first event contested and, as expected, Alisha Luna took off early and set the pace shortly after the start. She led for the first two laps and the Klamath Union runner was timed in 2:54 at 800 Meters. The race began in earnest with 200 meters to go and six runners were still in the hunt for a victory. In the end it came down to a stretch duel between Charlie Davidson of Scappoose & Ally Manley of Brookings-Harbor with the freshman Davidson topping the senior Manley by a half a second at the finish line with a time of 4;46.49. Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley claimed third with 4:47.47, while Alisha Luna took fourth in 4:48. Annette Marinello of Philomath garnered fifth (4:49) and former State champion Kellie Foley came home sixth in a 4:50 clocking.
Summit has dominated the 5A division ever since the State bowed to football interests and created six divisions a few years ago and in fact the Storm have won every girls’ title since the division’s inception. Nowhere was that dominance more in evidence than in the girls’ 1500 Meter run. During the first lap Summit’s Ashley Maton & Megan Fristoe jumped out early along with Morgan Anderson of Silverton. The trio opened up a ten meter gap over the chase pack, which was led by Kira Kelly of Summit, by the time they had run 400 Meters in a split of 70.1. The pace, however, slowed during the second circuit, which allowed Kelly to creep back into contention. After two laps the split was 2:31 and the only surprise after that lap of 80.5 was that only four runners were truly still in the race for the title. Anderson went on the attack shortly thereafter and took the lead only to have the Summit trio cover the move quickly. Shortly before the bell rang at the 3:31 mark Anderson found herself boxed in by the Summit trio but she quickly broke out creating bit of contact but the race was now on for home. With 300 meters to go Maton & Fristoe finally broke away leaving Anderson & Kelly to battle for third. At first Megan Fristoe, who had won the 3K on Friday, appeared to have the advantage as she took a brief lead but down the stretch Maton, a transfer from Texas, assumed command and pulled away to a victory. Her time of 4:41.27 topped Fristoe by a little more than a second. Kira Kelly regrouped in the final 200 meters moving on the inside of a surprised Anderson and rolled by the tired runner to claim third in 4:43.04, while an exhausted Anderson followed in 4:45. Shannon Susbauer of Milwaukie came across the line alone in 4:48. Michaela Freeby of Putnam deserves special mention here, as somehow she was tripped and fell during the last lap. The runner, who became the first girl in school history to qualify four times for State in Cross Country, picked herself back up to place a valiant 8th with 5:00.47. She crossed the finish line in tears, which continued to fall, when she was on the awards’ stand & she deserved better but such is racing, as well as life. For Summit on the other hand it was all smiles and hugs, as we contemplated, if another team had ever gone 1 -2 -3 but even more important was the fact that Maton, Fristoe & Kelly had pretty much salted away another State team title.
With all the suspense in the 5A one might have thought that the 6A race might be a bit anti-climactic but that was hardly the case. Claire DeVoe of Lincoln set the early pace and held a short lead over Annamarie Maag of Jesuit. Erin Clark of South Eugene & Paige Rice of St. Mary’s Academy held third & fourth at that point. Payton Schutte of Jesuit held fifth. The first lap went in 73.2 and on the turn Kelly O’Neill moved past Clark into fourth. DeVoe with Maag just off her shoulder on the outside led through the second lap & hit the 800 in 2:31 but Paige Rice moved into contention shortly after that & along with Maag moved past DeVoe and into the lead. Erin Clark had remained in contention thus far but yesterday’s victory was beginning to take its toll & she drifter back toward the pack. By the time that Rice & Maag entered the last time it appeared that the race would be between just them as O ‘ Neill & DeVoe began to fade, yet Kelsie Schaer of Tigard swept past the struggling pair & by mid-term had projected herself into contention. She swept through the turn closing ground but she had five meters to go as Rice now moved ahead of Maag. Rice moved well down the straight but Schaer flew down the stretch to snatch victory from Rice at the end. The final time showed the future Oregon State runner timed in 4:37.03, while Rice was a very close second with 4:37.47. Annamarie Maag may not have been at her best this day but she was a very game third with a 3:37.78 clocking. Kelly O’Neill swept across the line less than a second later (4:38) and promptly gave the winner a hug. Claire DeVoe placed fourth in 4:41 and was followed by Payton Schutte (4:42). Erin Clark earned seventh with 4:44 and Emily Weber of South Salem came home eighth (4:49).
Jeff Schreiner-McGraw of Philomath ran 4:06.59 to defeat Jorge Gil-Juarez of Phoenix by two seconds and thereby became the 2011 4A – 1500 meter champion. Taylor Steele, who had won the 3K the previous day, finished third with 4:09, as he edged Josh Schwartz of Philomath, who ran 4:09.47. Sean O’ Hollearn of LaSalle Prep climbed the award’s stand for the second straight day by earning fifth (4:10).
Saturday would once again prove to be a good day for Ian Burgess, as the Franklin star secured his second State title. He led through a first lap in 65 and cruised through the 800 meter mark in 2:12. The pace seemingly left everyone in the field in contention with a lap to go but Burgess was in control and he soon glided away to victory in a clocking of 4:04.28. Luke Hinz of Summit, Will Strahl of Crescent Valley, Fletcher Hazelhurst & Franklin & Henry Hall of Corvallis were left in his wake to battle for second with Hinz claiming second in 4:06.79. Strahl placed third .11 behind and Hazelhurst garnered fourth with 4:07.34. It marked the second time in two days that a Franklin runner stood on the awards’ stand in fourth just beneath Burgess. Henry Hall also ran 4:07 and change and was credited with fifth.
Going into the lead Badane Sultessa appeared to be the one to beat. He had not been in the 3K in the heat the previous day and he also had a formidable kick. On paper Matt Melancon, Max Runia & Andy Bennison were likely suspects but they had all been pretty wiped out after Friday’s race and it was anyone’s guess what any of them had left in the tank. The start of the race would bring the race’s first surprise, as Sheldon’s Melancon held the lead on the inside, while Sultessa, no surprise there, ran off his shoulder on the outside. The pair rolled through the first lap in 64.5 with everyone behind them looking fresh. Andy Bennison & Max Runia held the next two positions, although Aaron Kirch briefly moved into third. Runia made a run at first shortly before the 800M, which was reached in 2:11 but Sultessa moved out as well and appeared to be gliding along. The Bell rang with Runia still on the lead with a time of 2:58 but, as they came off the turn Sultessa boldly moved to the front. That burst of speed caused Runia to fall back with the telling effect of Friday’s race showing. Melancon did his best to hold on at that point as well but it would be his last hurrah as well, as the 3K toll would soon take its effect. It was a rather surprising turn of events for Sultessa, because traditionally he had favored a bolt of speed from 200 meters out and to that surprise was added a challenge by Andy Bennison. It was a two man race on the far turn with Bennison closing on the leader and then moving to his shoulder coming off the turn. It seemed too much to ask after Friday’s race, yet there was Bennison putting in a surge on the Centennial flash, while even Andy had to think “I’ve never out-kicked Sultessa before”. Of course there are many factors, which go into racing including heart, for which Bennison obviously does not lack, and there is redemption which the Central Catholic star implied after the race, when he spoke about the “sting” of yesterday’s defeat. Of course there is also timing and quite possibly Sultessa had moved too soon but down the stretch one could see the fire in Andy’s eyes as he drove towards the finish and even opened up daylight over his rival. The end result was an inspiring victory in a time of 3:57.92 to Badane’s time of 3:59.64 in second. As impressive as Bennison's race was to watch, knowing that he was forced to race most of the way with his forefoot wedged into his shoe, because the heel of his shoe had been clipped, made the victory abit surreal. When you are a true champion, one does not let other things stand in the way. Aaron Back of Sunset found the reserves he needed and finished third with 4:00.51 and 3K champion Matt Melancon claimed forth in 4:01. Beaverton sophomore Dan Oekerman scored a fifth place finish with 4:03 & Jackson Haselnus of Barlow secured sixth with 4:04.59. For Max Runia it was not to be yet despite his fatigue he had been an important factor in the race & he placed seventh in 4:04. Tigard’s Nick Roche & Aaron Kirch took the next two places.
Aiyannna Cameron-Lewis of Philomath won the 5A title in the 800 Meter Run to edge Ashley Maton of Summit 2:14.37 to 2:14.48. Jessica Imbrie placed third with 2:17.14. Zoe Falk of Sisters claimed the 4A title with 2:21.02. The 6A title came down to a great stretch duel between Louise Mulvey of Sheldon & Paige Kouba of South Eugene with Mulvey nipping her rival at the line with a time of 2:13.75. Paige, who narrowly lost the District title the same way, ran a fine race and was only .07 of a second back. Hillary Harris of Glencoe placed third with 2:15. For Mulvey, who had been told after her District race, that she lacked heart, the race was a sweet triumph, yet she displayed a pleasant empathy for her rival in a touching display of sportsmanship after the race.
Jeff Schreiner-McGraw of Philomath became a double-winner at State by winning the 800 in the 4A division with a time of 1:56.28. He defeated Brett Willyard of Seaside, who ran 1:56.52. Demetrius Rhodes of Benson was timed in 1:56.51 as he topped Tyler Zeph of Pendleton, who has more than his share of medical problems this past year. Zeph was clocked in 1:57.45 as he bested Morgan Coxen of Silverton, who ran 1:58.93. In the 6A race Badane Sultessa was the defending champion and like the 1500 his kick was feared by everyone. North Medford’s Stetson Smith was well aware of that fact and he accordingly went out hard from the gun. Early in the race only Steve Raimondi of Jesuit stayed even near Stetson’s pace, as Sultessa galloped in third. Smith went through the first 400 meters in a brisk 54.09 and held a sizable lead over Raimondi, while Sultessa began to close in on his Jesuit rival. Stetson was hardly backing off the pace, when he entered the last turn but Sultessa was beginning to go into over-drive, as he took over second place. The feared kick was in evidence, when the pair raced around the turn and, when Sultessa made his final charge down the straight, he began to close the gap even more. Smith may have feared his rival’s kick but he also had something late and in the last thirty meters Stetson actually opened more daylight over his rival. In the end Stetson Smith had scored a clear victory in a time of 1:53.09. He sunk to his knees in thanksgiving after crossing the line and his rival sped by after being timed in 1:53.75. Zach Boyd-Helm of West Linn sped home with a fine 1:55.94 to easily take third over Dan Bellisimo of South Eugene & Steve Raimondi of Jesuit. It was a stirring ending to a grand day of distance racing.