Oregon State Races

6A girls Thanks Craig Rice

     The girls’ 6A race was presumed to be a wide-open affair, which was unusually talented as a field and it lived up to its billing.   With at least six runners breaking eighteen minutes during the course of the year it was almost incumbent, that the pace be brisk to avoid a stampede finish down the final stretch.   The start of the race evidenced the usual mass sprint towards the hill towards the side of the track and by the time they had reached the apex of the hill the usual suspect had collected near the front.  Paige Rice of St. Mary’s Academy appeared to be the titular leader at that point but Sara Tsai & Erin Clark of South Eugene, Ella Donaghu of Grant & Maggie Schmaedick were right with her.

     By the time that they had reached the mile mark, which is by the baseball diamond Maggie Schmaedick, Erin Clark, Paige Rice and Ella Donaghu were aligned at the front with a large posse in tow.   While Gracie Todd of Sheldon could be seen nearby as well as Ellen Patterson of SMA it was telling that Grant had two more runners, Parkes Kendrick & Piper Donaghu in that group.   Kelly O’ Neill, a four-time State finalist, was tucked back in tenth place at the time but there were so many people near the front that it had to have been difficult to vie for position. 

     The field finally wound its way along the course and back atop the grade above the track, where Maggie Schmaedick held a slight lead over Clark, Tsai, Rice and Donaghu.   While the field had begun to spread out, Kelly O’ Neill still remained just off the top ten as did Gracie Tostenson of Crater.   Jesuit had a pack of four running together well behind them, so the team race seemed a bit hard to figure but then there was a good deal of running left ahead. 

     Things began to take their final look by the two mile mark, where Maggie Schmaedick moved into the lead with Sara Tsai following.   Ella Donaghu, Paige Rice, Erin Clark & Parkes Kendrick ran in a pack another five meters behind the pair, while the rest of the field was strung out in long & broken line of runners.   Tsai moved ahead by the time that they had begun their trek into the soccer bowl with Schmaedick & Donaghu in pursuit.   The trio had, however, moved well ahead of the next trio, who were vying for fourth. 

     During the ensuing distance Sara Tsai sped to the front and was able to hold off the late charge of Maggie Schmaedick, who moved well once on the track.  The South Eugene star became only the second Axeman runner to win individual honors at State this century (Erin Gray was the other) but her time of 17:42 was of greater significance for it was the fastest since Melissa Lucas of Jesuit won in 1993.  That year Lucas went on to place second at the Foot Locker national meet in San Diego, where the field included a stellar field, who many should still recall:  Carrie Tollefson, Kara Wheeler (Goucher) & Amy Yoder (Begley).  It was also the year when Marie Davis of Lincoln also qualified – one of the few, when Oregon managed two qualifiers.  Maggie Schmaedick followed in second place with a time of 17:46.   Parkes Kendrick closed very well to overtake her team mate and the Grant runners finished with times of 17:58 and 18:01 respectively.  Paige Rice shared the same time as Donaghu and both runners showed the stress of the early pace.  Erin Clark added another top ten finish with her time of 18:08 and then Gracie Todd looked strong with her seventh place finish.   It did not seem right but Kelly O’ Neill finished her fine high school career in 30th after struggling home after the early pace.   Kelly had placed 5th – 10th & 5th in her first three years but off days & difficult finishes are all a part of the vagaries of the running experience.

     Sunset’s Charlotte Corless placed 8th in 18:36 to finish her fine season on a good note and Brooke Chuhlantseff of West Salem rounded out the top ten with her mark of 18:37, which just edged Ellen Patterson of SMA.  Piper Donaghu of Grant contributed a crucial 11th place finish for Grant and Ellie Kallgren ran 18:45 to become the first Jesuit finishers.   The team battle was quite close with Grant nipping St. Mary’s Academy by a 66 to 68 margin.  The scoring margin was achieved at the front where the top three Grant runners placed ahead of their counterparts and interestingly enough there would have been the same two point difference even if they had not excluded the runners, who did not represent teams:  the total would have been 85 to 87.  Jesuit placed 76 points, while Sunset had 82, and defending champion South Eugene followed with 95.

6A boys by Craig Rice

      The boys’ race featured defending champion Kyle Thompson of Central Catholic, the resurgent Jackson Darland of Sheldon, who upped his game this year & won the Marist Invitational plus Dan Oekerman of Beaverton, who won the Metro Conference with 15:14.  Although there were a number of other standouts, like Julian Heninger of Lakeridge, that trio was expected for the lead and they did not disappoint.   They did, however, have to take a back seat early to a wall of four Jesuit runners, who led the way as they crested the hill by the side of the track, but Heninger, Oekerman, Darland and Thompson loomed closely behind.   It should be noted that a fifth Crusader was only a bit behind his four teammates near the front.

       By the time the runners had passed the mile mark and were running along the road by the baseball diamond Thompson & Oekerman were leading the way with Darland just behind and in between them.  Julian Heninger followed just a bit later and then there was a good twenty meters back to the chase pack.  After reaching the pond area the only change was the widening gap between the four leaders and their pursuers, who had fallen back.   Only Lincoln’s Tanner Smith, who was left with a ten meter gap, was in contention, as everyone else was at least another twenty meters behind him.  Ray Schireman of North Medford & Liam Chapin-Jones of South Eugene led that group.

     The final course of the race took place about the time that the leaders went down the decline into the soccer bowl, where Jackson Darland made a bold move to break away from the group.  Dan Oekerman was left to follow about ten meters later and Kyle Thompson was left another 15 meters behind him.  Heninger had already dropped back & with the latest movement was left forty yards out of reach.  It was another seven meters back to Lincoln’s Tanner Smith.   From that point onward Darland opened up his lead before finishing in 15:40.  Dan Oekerman followed in 15:48 but he anxiously looked back over his shoulder as he rounded the final turn.   Kyle Thompson followed the two senior runners with his third place effort of 15:54 and then Julian Heninger finished alone in 16:09.

     Fifth place went to Jackson Haselnus of Barlow, who ran 16:13 and Liam Chapin-Jones took sixth three seconds later.  He edged Ray Schireman, who earned a version of that time, while Ryutaro Morgan of Westview earned 8th in 16:18.   Blake Spencer of North Medford & Tanner Smith placed 9th & 10th respectively in 16:19 and Sam Lomax of Central Catholic helped his team’s winning cause with eleventh place effort in 16:20.   When the proverbial dust had settle on the wet lane course the Ram kiddy corps had claimed another State title for the Rams defeating Jesuit by a 52 to 76 verdict.  North Medford secured third with 85 and Sheldon was a distant fourth with 127.   

   5A girls by Craig Rice

   The 5A girls’ race had a familiar ending as the Storm flags flew once again for Summit.  As usual they won the championship but they did it with mostly new runners.  Gone were Megan & Sara Fristoe, Ashley Maton & Kira Kelly from the 2011 title team & missing was their season’s leader Piper McDonald, who apparently was injured and did not run. They scored once again defeating second place Corvallis 83 to 91, while Hermiston took third with 105 points, which was but six points ahead of Mountain View.

     The individual race saw a number of the main hopefuls race up the grade by the track near the lead with Grace Grim of Hood River Valley slightly ahead of the group, which included Emma Wren of Cleveland, Hannah Gindlesperger of Summit, MaryKate McGuire of Dallas & Maggie Coleman of Hermiston.   They continued over by the corner of the track & soccer bowls with McGuire & Gindlesperger in the lead group with Wren & Grim plus Coleman & her team mate Katie Markwick.  In their midst was Rachel Khaw of Liberty.

      It was McGuire, who handled the lead duties by the time that they approached the baseball diamond but Grim, Coleman & Gindlesperger were in hot pursuit.  A just a bit further removed from that group were Jenna Mattox of Bend, Sasha Gonzalez of Milwaukie plus Kelsey Hiltsenteger of Putnam.   They soon raced around the pond and then headed back towards the hill by the track and by that point the race had evolved into a two person duel between Grim and McGuire.   Everyone else had been reduced to a supporting role but Gindlesperger was in third a good forty meters back.  Maggie Coleman closely trailed her and it was another fifteen meters back to Katie Markwick.  Mattox & Wren had their own private duel another five meters later.  The field was quite spread out behind them but Rylie Nikolaus of Mountain View was the next to follow along with two runners, who could not be determined.  Taryn Rawlings of Wilsonville was hot on their trail.

      Grim, who has been on a roll of late, took control of the race at that point by charging to the front.  In a short expanse of time she had open up a solid 35 meter lead over McGuire.  The rest of the field was quite spread out as well.   Grace Grim looked strong as she rounded the track and came home first in 18:40. MaryKate McGuire, who has had a stellar senior campaign, finished alone in second in 18:53.  Hannah Gindlesperger led Summit’s team victory with her third place effort of 19:09.  Emma Wren garnered fourth in 19:15 by sweeping past Maggie Coleman in the final stride, as both shared 19:15.   No one put on a more spectacular finish than Taryn Rawlings of Wilsonville, who may have been down 35 yards in the middle of the last turn yet soared down the final meters to garner sixth in 19:20, as she caught Katie Markwick in the last few strides.   Monica Anderson of Marist, who had been near the lead group early, finished in 8th (19:22) and Rylie Nikolaus followed four seconds later in 9th.   Freshman Rachel Khaw of Liberty earned tenth with 19:35 & Jenna Mattox ended her fine career in 11th with 19:36.

 5A boys by Craig Rice

    With Travis Neuman having a banner senior campaign the question in the boys’ 5A race seemed to be whether anyone could challenge the defending State champion, yet there was also conjecture about the up-front fire power of the Summit and Hermiston teams.   It did not take long to witness both squad’s strength, because by the top of the hill Neuman & his Storm team mates Matthew Maton & Eric Aldritt ran up front on the left while Alejandro Cisneros, Eduard Juarez & Jose Macias ran ahead of the pack on the right.  Hermiston’s Efrain Jaime was almost immediately back and Cleveland’s Nabi Amin was sort of the spoiler in their midst.

     They raced near the ball diamond with little change as the main conspirators were all to be found at the head of the pack but Neuman sped away during the portion around the pond and pulled the trio that also included Alejandro Cisneros & Matthew Maton through the two mile mark in 9:55.   Eduardo Juarez followed ten meters later with Jose Macias another ten meters behind him.  Behind them the field was strung out along the way.  That contentious portion of the race did not last long, because Neuman established a sizable lead by the soccer field. 

      With the individual suspense over Travis defended his crown easily in a time of 15:29, which was the fastest time of the day.  Maton, who is only a sophomore, managed open a gap over Cisneros to finish four seconds ahead of him in 15:42.  Eduardo Juarez took fourth with 15:52 and Jose Macias annexed fifth in 16:06.  Eric Alldritt continued the Summit – Hermiston skein with his sixth place time of 16:13.  Nabi Amin of Cleveland was the first intruder as it were with his seventh place effort of 16:25, which saw him cross the finish line a second ahead of Luke Hintz of Summit.  Dakota Thornton of Mountain View garnered ninth in 16:27 edging Ty James of Wilsonville and Gabe Wyllie of Mountain View earned eleventh. 

        Summit claimed its second straight title with 33 points but Cleveland exhibited fine pack running to earn second with 61 points.  Leading the way for Cleveland were Roba Sultessa, Ethan Livermore & Christopher Hinkle, who swept places 12th through 14th.   Hermiston followed close behind with 69 points easily out-distancing Mountain View, which had 131 points.

It would have taken considerable imagination to conjure a scenario where-in the Siuslaw guys would fail to win the team race.   They were so strong that they are one of the better teams in the state regardless of size.  They easily won the team title with 29 points with North valley taking second with 52 & LaSalle third with 93.  So strong in fact were the Vikings that they would have finished second in the 5A race placing between Summit and ahead of Cleveland.

  (Butler & Campbell by Craig Rice

    With the team race neatly filed away almost by mid-race it was the individual race, which created excitement but here two we see another case of Siuslaw dominance for their top two runners were the main contestants for  individual laurels.   Matthew Campbell and Mitchell Butler made sure their duel was invigorating for fans by letting it come down to the final stretch.   Although they had worked together early the strain on their faces, as they raced down the home-stretch, made it clear that they both wanted the victory dearly and they swept across the finish line together with both credited with times of 15:49.  Campbell got the nod for first and finishes his fine four-year career with finishes of 2nd (2011), 9th (2010) & 31st (2009).  Butler will have another year in which to grab the brass ring but he already has placements of 3rd & 24th his first two years.  

     Jonathan & David Cornish of North Valley both ran 16:02 as they were credited with 3rd & 4th respectively, while Mark Marbas of Siuslaw added a fine fifth place finish in 16:09.  Brett Willyard of Seaside showed the he is more than just a track star with his sixth place finish in a time of 16:09.  Pake Benthin of Molalla & Jacob Hiett of Sweet Home placed 7th & 8th and then Hayden Schaffner of Siuslaw added his ninth place effort (16:44) to the team total.   Will Thompson of LaSalle came in tenth with 16:44, while Brian Schofield was the fifth Siuslaw finisher with his marks of 17th – 16:57. 

     Alisha Luna of Klamath Falls had captured the 4A title the last two years but on this day she found herself finishing third in a time of 19:29.  Katy Potter of Siuslaw ended her three year XC country with a victory in 18:56 after placing third & 13th in previous editions.  Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley garnered second for the second year in a row after finishing in 19:04.   Her four year finishes at State also include a 6th in 2010 & 8th in 2009.    Nevina DeLuca of Phoenix got a fourth place medal with her time of 19:45, while Amanda Welch of La Grande earned fifth in 19:46.    La Salle secured the team title with 54 as Klamath Union & Molalla followed with 70 & 76 respectively.

       Union swept both titles at the 3A level and also had the bonus of getting a 1 – 2 finish from Katriel O’ Reilly and McKenzie Evans.   Katriel had finished second as a junior and a sophomore and it seems only fitting she moves up to the top rung as a senior.   Her time was 19:16, which gave her a three second margin over her teammate Evans.  Defending champion Olivia Powell of Creswell, who is only a sophomore,  finished third with 19:55 & Josephine Chau of Valley Catholic took fourth with 20:07. 

      Another victory, which was good to see, was that of Nick Obletz of Oregon Episcopal, who ran 15:58.   He spent most of the year racing against harriers from the big schools and he is a three-time State finalist with previous efforts of fourth & ninth.   Dave Ribich was assumed to be Obletz’ main rival and he lived up to the billing with his second place time of 16:20.  Zach Bellew of Creswell ran 16:34 for third and Sisay Gilloch of Portland Christian edged Trevor lane of Southwest Christian for fourth as both were clocked in 16:42. 

     All in all it was a solid day of racing with many national caliber times.   Good luck to the numerous runners, who qualified for the Border Clash.   Better yet, given some of the times, head down to the Mt. SAC course and take a crack at a chance to race in San Diego in the Foot Locker national meet.  Numerous times warrant the gamble and, if you are not on a team with a realistic chance at Portland, there is no comparison with Foot Locker regardless of Propaganda from Beaverton.   Many have had stellar seasons after a great deal of work and many, who competed on Saturday, deserve a chance to run against the very best the West has to offer   My thanks to Craig Rice for sending along the pictures used here.

     With three days of travel, two of which w/o sleep, plus poor internet connect it has been a game of catch-up.  Sorry for the delay.