Oregon Girls' XC Preview

  Paige Kouba will run for HArvard but Sara Tsai & Erin Clark return to form a formidable 1 - 2 for South Eugene)


   This could be a very wide open year for girls both individually and team wise, so it should prove to be a very interesting season.    It would, of course, be even more interesting, if the talent were not watered down into so many divisions, which has been really showing itself at the Border Clash ever since the great dilution in the middle of the last decade.   That, however, is a topic for another day and there are a number of runners to be excited about for sure.   Paige Rice of St. Mary’s Academy is the defending champion and she followed her victory by becoming the first runner to be invited to the Mile in the Adidas Grand Prix.  Paige also won her division at Wilsonville, the Murv Fanning Beach Run & was the Metro Conference champion.    As fine a runner as Rice is she should face serious challenges from both Sara Tsai & Erin Clark of South Eugene, who are both capable of claiming a State title.   Tsai was victorious at the Adidas Concordia meet and placed sixth at Sunfair, while Erin was second at Sunfair & Adidas before placing third at State with 18:17.  Sara was right behind Paige at State by only a second, so it could come down to a final kick once again.   Crater’s Sarah Hastings is the only runner in the top five moving on to college, which makes Lake Ridge’s Kelly O’Neill the fourth returnee and she has been a top ten runner all three of her prep years.  Last year Kelly won at Wilsonville and Trask and was the Three Rivers league Champion.   Gracie Todd is kind of the wild card for, although she placed sixth at State for Sheldon last fall, she ran unattached in the spring.  Todd also has the ability to be in the mix as does  Gracie Tostenson of Crater, who finished seventh.  Others to watch are Erin Gregoire of Beaverton, who placed  twelfth at State & Maggie Schmaedick of Sheldon, who came in thirteenth.   Maggie missed the early part of the season due to injury but she finished second in her first meet back at Star City.  If she is healthy this could be a completely different year for year.

      For a decade Jesuit ruled the large school division until South Eugene scored last fall.   The Axewomen lose Paige Kouba , who contributed an important ninth place effort last fall but they also return Phacelia Cramer (25th) & Genevieve Brandt (32).   With the low total from their top two runners Coach Jeff Hess would appear to have the upper hand, especially with Jesuit graduating Adrienne Demaree (11th) & Olivia Artaiz (16th).   Still the Crusaders always have a fine JV squad ready to move to the next level & they have Megan Mullaney (21st) to lead the way.   Another team to watch would appear to be Sunset, which has Karen Qu, Sarah Fahmy, Greer Davis, Charlotte Corliss & Desyre Blackburn all returning.    Qu, incidentally, won the Canby Invitational last fall.     Hard ti figure is Grant, which often has athlete shuttling between soccer & cross country like Piper Donaghu, who will be a foce, if she runs.  Parkes Kendrick will return and the Generals will add two freshman:  Ella Donaghu & Rennie Kendrick, who should aid the team.  David Douglas will add a newcomer of note as well in the person of Kennedy Allen.

      When one speaks about dominating the Summit Storm have had to be a part of the equation given the perfect record at the 5A level.  Last year the team had “the perfect storm” to quote their web page, as Megan Fristoe, Ashley Maton, Piper McDonald & Sara Fristoe swept the top four places, while Kira Kelly added a seventh place effort.  Megan capped her senior year with her third straight title for the record.   They will certainly have a different look this year, as four of their dependable move on but they do have Piper McDonald, who placed third last year with 18:36.   Piper also won at New Balance and placed second at Bend (Oxford) plus fourth at the Harrier Classic.    Given that she is the only runner in the top eight from last fall returning, McDonald has to be the favorite this fall.    Bend’s Jenna Mattox placed ninth last fall making her the second returnee, while Taryn Rawlings of Wilsonville placed tenth.   Of note also is the fact that Rawlings had placed second at State as a freshman.    Emma Wren of Cleveland is another to watching after garnering twelfth as a freshman.    With the graduation of so many stalwarts Summit will have to reload but they should have Brit Oliphant return, who did not run last fall.   Everyone else also graduated a number of key runners including Bend, Marist & Corvallis, while Franklin has a strong contingent returning including Margarita Lauer, who placed 13th last fall.

      Alisha Luna of Klamath Union has been the story in 4A the last two years and she looks to join Megan Fristoe as a three-time state winner.   Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley placed a distant second last year at 18:57 and Katy Potter of Siuslaw took third.   Tia Carnahan of Scappoose secured fifth last fall as she led her team to a championship and she has her top two team mates returning, which bodes well.    Sisters, which placed third last season, returns Zoe Falk (9th), Madison Boettner (11th) & Aria Blumm 13th) and should be tough.   One should not forget that Siuslaw has a fine tradition & it would not be a surprise to see them return to form. 

     Olivia Powell of Creswell ruled the 3A division as a freshman but was challenged by Katriel O’Reilly of Union, who was only seven seconds behind her.   Although McKenzie Evans of Union and Stephanie Croy of Cascade Christian placed third & fourth they are going to have really cut their times to challenge the top two.  That said we have had a nice summer for training and that can make all the difference.      Union is the defending champion and on paper they are the team to beat as they return everyone except their fourth runner Kathryn Hepler.   Stormy Bullard (13th), Alex Griffiths (45th), Lynn Shoemaker (47th) & Hannah Brazil (49th) should all be on hand for a return engagement.