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home : sports & recreation : sports & recreation December 10, 2017

10/24/2017 1:13:00 PM
Outlaws run toward district meet
Amy Hills leads Chewbacca and Pajama Man at the costume-themed Central Oregon Relays last Wednesday at the Pine Nursery. photo by Charlie Kanzig
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Amy Hills leads Chewbacca and Pajama Man at the costume-themed Central Oregon Relays last Wednesday at the Pine Nursery. photo by Charlie Kanzig

By Charlie Kanzig

A zany relay meet in Bend served as a final tune-up for the Sisters Outlaws cross-country team Wednesday, October 18, as the squad faces the Sky-Em District meet this week. That meet is the qualifier for the OSAA State Championships.

The Central Oregon Relays, hosted by Mountain View High School -which attracted all of the Central Oregon schools - gave teams the chance to have a little fun before the biggest meets of the season.

Relay teams comprised of four runners who run three legs each over the 1.1-kilometer course (8.4 miles in total). The relay racing format, along with the encouragement to dress up in wacky costumes, produced smiles all around as princesses, lava bears, fairies, ninjas, cheerleaders, Star Wars characters and others raced around the circuit.

The event is timed and places awarded, but that was not the point for the Sisters team.

"It's a challenging workout, but the fun factor is high and I think the relay format brings the team closer together by being in random small groups," said Josh Nordell, head coach of the Outlaws.

The focus sharpens this week as Sisters travels to Eugene on Thursday, October 26 for the Sky-Em Meet at Lane Community College.

The girls team will be defending its league title from last year, and Anna Bartlett will attempt to win her second consecutive crown. As a team the Outlaws look like clear favorites, but two runners have emerged that should test Bartlett. Elmira's Kaitlin Cook, who placed fifth in last year's district meet, has improved her 5,000-meter time by nearly two minutes and holds a best of 19:41. Freshman Anika Thompson of Elmira cracked the 20-minute barrier as well with a time of 19:56, while Bartlett's best this season is 19:57. However, the girls have not raced head to head this season, which should make for an exciting race.

Overall, the seven varsity runners for Sisters all rank in the top 14 among Sky-Em girls.

"But, we still have to show up ready to compete," warned Nordell. The team includes Ella Cole, Engracia Diez, Amy Hills, Tate Ricker, Brooke Robillard, and Iris Diez.

Sisters has won six consecutive district cross-country titles dating back to 2011.

The boys team is a stark contrast to last year's group that placed a distant fifth at last year's District meet, its worst finish since joining the Sky-Em League. The Outlaws are in the thick of challenging for the district title with a crew lead by senior Jordan Pollard and backed up by a five outstanding underclassmen.

Pollard has been ranked among the top three 4A runners in Oregon all season, but he faces a real challenge from Sweet Home's Tanner Sayers, who has run 16:19 this season. Pollard's best is 16:10; he has shown great competitiveness in all of his races this season against some very high-level runners, according to Nordell.

"Jordan is definitely in the driver's seat," said Nordell.

Freshman Ethan Hosang ranks third in the league, just ahead of Konrad Raum of Cottage Grove. The Lions and the Outlaws appear to be the top two teams in the league, which, if holds true, would mean a return to the state meet for the Outlaws after being shut out last year.

The Outlaws' strength lies in a tight-knit pack for runners three through seven including freshmen John Peckham and Will Thorsett, sophomore Josh Liddell, freshman Vicente Rebolledo, and junior Jack Berg. Senior Cole Pade, who has battled injury all season, is also part of the varsity mix.

Cross-country is scored based on the place values of the top five runners added together, meaning the lowest score wins the meet. Runners six and seven can count as spacers, so if a team's sixth and seventh finishers can beat other teams' scorers, it is a big plus and is the advantage Sisters has over Cottage Grove going into the meet. The sixth runner also serves as the tie-breaker if teams score the exact same number of points with the top five.

The Sky-Em District Championships commence at noon on Thursday with the varsity girls race, followed by the varsity boys race at 12:30 p.m. and a combined junior varsity race at 1 p.m. The top five individuals and top two teams qualify for the OSAA Championships scheduled for Saturday, November 4, also at Lane Community College. 

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