Border Clash Preview

      Sunday marks the thirteenth year of the Border Clash, which pits most of the top harriers from Oregon against their counterparts from across the Columbia River in Washington.    The race held in Beaverton on the campus of Nike has not gone well for Oregon runners of late and in fairness the northern state has nearly twice the population to draw from, yet the series is quite popular with the prep runners.   With the distance of the event being at a rather meaningless  4.4K, as far as rankings and with nothing truly hinging on the event other than bragging rights, the prep runners can relax and enjoy themselves.   The event also offers a different perspective and, as North Central’s Katie Knight noted last weekend, she looks forward to running with usual rivals like Amy-Eloise Neale & Maddie Meyers as team mates.  Another nice touch is that the race features runners from all divisions and not just the very elite, so runners, who may not have a legitimate chance at being a state champion, can have reasonable expectations of being part of the action.

      Of course on the line is a mythical Columbia River championship and the runners come to the Portland area set to compete.   Many are champions, so they will take their races reasonably seriously, & fans will see some quality performances by some national caliber runners.   Here are but a few of the runners, who will strut their stuff on Sunday.   We’ll start with Oregon and what better place to start  than with gals from Summit, who not only won the State 5A title but the Northwest Regional championship last Saturday.   The Storm will have their entire top five on hand starting with individual champion Megan Fristoe, who also has won the Albany Harrier Classic & Bend Oxford Classic.   Ashley Maton, winner at New Balance, & Piper McDonald, who had a big day at Northwest  last Saturday will also Summit-Oregonians.  The duo placed 2nd & 3rd respectively at State.   Sara Fristoe, fourth at State, and Kira Kelly (7th) will also compete for Oregon.  

     Paige Rice from St. Mary’s Academy is the 6A champion and the winner at Wilsonville.  Paige also finished sixth at NW.   Sara Tsai & Erin Clark followed Paige in 6A and then reversed their positions with big races in Boise last weekend by earning third (Clark) & fourth (Tsai).   Sara also won the Adidas Concordia meet with her team mate coming in second.  Three Rivers League champion Kelly O’ Neill of Lakeridge placed fifth at State (6A) and will lend her support to the squad.    Gracie Todd of Sheldon, Star City Classic winner and sixth in 6A will contribute to the effort as will Claire DeVoe, who won the Metro League championship plus the Chapman & Wilsonville Invitationals.   Morgan Anderson, Silver Falls winner & 6th in 5A, and Shannon Susbauer, NWOC District champion and 5th in 5A, are two much improved runners this year and will be a real asset to the team, as well as South Salem Invitational winner Emily Weber.   Add to that Katriel O’Reilly, who won at Brooks Hermiston & was second at Richland, and South Eugene’s Paige Kouba plus Jesuit’s Adrienne Demaree and you have the nucleus of formidable team.

     That said Washington has had a banner year and they are led by a quartet of national-class runners.  Maddie Meyers is already a two-time Foot Locker qualifier and is also Washington’s only four-time State champion.   She won the Danner Invitational among other races.   Amy-Eloise Neale & Katie Knight had stellar seasons in 2010, yet appear to have risen to an even higher plateau this fall.   Katie won Walters, & Firman and then zipped through the State course in 17:11.    Amy-Eloise placed second in State (3A) behind Katie in 17:29, which also was under the course record, and then she claimed the Regional title last Saturday in Idaho.   As talented as that trio is Jordan McPhee, can be expected to give them a battle.  The Mt. Rainier star has not been challenged all season and has notched victories at Bellarmine, Ft. Steilacoom, Mt. Baker, Richland and the Westside Classic (4A).   She then raced alone in that division at State to triumph in 17:25.   On Sunday she will have the competition to bring out her talent.

      Alexa Efraimson of Camas has had a stellar season as well with a third at Danner, a fourth at Sunfair plus a victory at Westside in 3A.   She then placed third at State and then at NXN Northwest and in both races the only runners to top her were Katie and Amy-Eloise.   Alexis Fuller of Union defeated Efraimson at the Run-A-Ree and earned second at State in 4A and Chandler Olson won Tomahawk & Bellevue prior to garnering third at State.   Stephanie Rexus of Kamiakin won at Hanford and was second at New Balance and was fourth at State in 3A.  Emily Pettis won at Sehome & is a divisional champion at State.   Marina Roberts of Kingston won at Ft. Worden & is not afraid to push the pace and Katie Bianchini of Glacier Peak placed 5th at State & 8th at the Regional, aside from being a divisional winner at Sunfair.   Myra Chavez, 2nd at Richland & 6th at State plus 10th at NW, and Brittany Gappa, first at North County & 5th at State, are just two more of a very high quality supporting cast.  

      This is an interesting year for the Oregon guys with the champions of the two largest divisions (Travis Neuman & Kyle Thompson) being non-seniors but then again the most important thing is that they run like seniors.    Neuman of Summit has won at Albany, Bend, Concordia Adidas and his winning time in 5A of 15:32 was impressive.     Thompson from Central Catholic placed third at Palos Verdes before claiming State in 15:41.   The duo then impressed at the Northwest Regional by finishing seventh and tenth respectively in a strong field with runners from Idaho and Montana.   Paul Adams, the 4A champion, has really come on late in the season, as his State title in 15:48 attests and his addition to the mix for Oregon should be a real bonus.  Jackson Baker of Franklin has won at Hermiston, Wilsonville, Hood River and the PIL champion always puts in a very solid effort and can be counted upon for a strong effort along with defending 4A Champion Zorg Loustalet, who won at Yreka & State of Jefferson before taking second at Adidas.   Hermiston will contribute four runners (Alejandro Cisneros, Jose Macias, Eduardo Juarez & Javier Velasco), who are usually in the thick of things.  Alex Dillard of The Dalles-Wahtonka won divisions at Danner and at Bend prior to claiming second at State in 5A Matt Campbell & Mitchell Butler of Siuslaw had fine seasons including 2nd & 3rd at State respectively in 4A.   South Eugene’s Brian Eimstad, Jesuit’s David Leavy, Jon Obeso & Neil Siebert of Crater should be in the mix along with Nick Obletz (Tualatin winner) of Oregon Episcopal and Eric Aldritt of Summit, who has three second place finishes to his credit despite running behind Neuman.    Central Linn team mates Joe Ewers, 3A Champion, & Zach Holloway, who won at Silver Falls before finishing third at State.  Dan Oekerman of Beaverton (3rd in 6A) & Three Rivers League Champion Andre Walker will also lend aid to the Oreon team.

      As strong as Oregon ‘s hand is Washington is loaded & this is in spite of losing Jacob Smith to injury and the absence of Foot Locker finalist Andrew Gardner.   Both Anthony Armstrong and Nathan Weitz have broken the fifteen minute barrier twice this season:  both at State, while Weitz turned the trick at Sundodger (14:33) & Armstrong at Richland (14:52).   Westside Classic Champion Izaic Yorks has been hot on their heels and at NW he placed second to Armstrong.   Auburn Riverside’s Korey Krotzer won at Ft. Steilacoom and Westside before placing fourth at State in 4A and then claiming fourth in Boise last weekend.    Patrick Gibson won a division at the State meet & then took sixth in Idaho on Saturday.    Joe Hardy won at Seaking, placed fourth at State & then rolled home fifth at NXN NW.  

    If that were not enough talent Nicholas Boersma of Wenatchee ran 15:06 at Sundodger and was sixth at State, while Wolfgang Beck, the Narrows champion from Gig Harbor, took fifth at State.   Santos Vargas of Eisenhower won at South Whidbey & Bellevue & was second at Richland before earning third at State with 15:18.  Curtis King, fifth at State & 12the at NXN NW, & Alex Kimsey, 9th at State & 11th at NXN, are two runners, who are rounding into form at the right times as is Skyview’s Colby Gilbert , who placed 8th at State in 15:34.    This is another talented bunch, which even includes freshman of note Tristan Peloquin of Gig Harbor & Aaron Roe of Henry Jackson, who are capable of making their presence felt on Sunday.    Again this is but a cursory look at the bevy of talent from Washington that need also include Poli Balthazar, who finished fifth at Sunfair, fourth at New Balance and second at State.  There will be much talent indeed on display this Sunday and fans should count on an enjoyable day with but a little help from the weatherman.