State qualification on the line at district meet
Last updated 10/26/2021 at Noon
Qualification for entry to the OSAA State Championships is on the line for teams in the Oregon West Conference at Thursday’s District meet. The Sisters Outlaws cross-country teams hope to make some noise at the showdown at Lane Community College.
The top two teams and top five individuals will advance to the State meet, scheduled for Saturday, November 6, also at Lane.
On the boys’ side there is no dominant team favorite, although Philomath appears to be in the driver’s seat behind the leadership of junior Brody Bushnell, who won the 4A 1,500- and 800-meter titles in last spring’s State meet.
Sisters has developed a very tight pack among its top six runners and seeks to use that closeness to overcome the lack of a true front-runner on the team.
“The boys are healthy and fit and are hungry to prove themselves,” said Head Coach Charlie Kanzig.
Hayden Roth, a junior, has been the lead runner in each of the team’s meets this season and has his eyes on a top-five finish as an individual. The next four scorers for the team — Max Palanuk, Kaleb Briggs, Cole Jervis, and Spencer Tisdel — have tended to finish in a bunch within 20-30 seconds of Roth.
“We need our pack to be in front of the other team’s third runners in order to have the best outcome,” said Kanzig. “They know what they need to do.”
For the girls, Philomath is the overwhelming favorite, according to Kanzig, “But the second spot appears to be open to the team that has the best day.”
The top three runners for Sisters — Ella Bartlett, Sasha Stolasz, and Brooklyn Liddell —are expected to hold their own in the top tier of the field. Bartlett ranks in the top four among individuals while Stolasz and Liddell are expected to vie for top-ten finishes.
The challenge comes down to the next two scorers, according to Kanzig.
“Other than Philomath none of the other league teams have much depth, so, like us, these other teams have time gaps between their scorers,” he said. “We’re counting on our fourth and fifth runners to beat their counterparts from the other teams. That’s a bit of pressure for new runners, but all we ask is for them to do their best.”
With only seven teams in the league, the District contest will be the smallest meet of the year for the Outlaws, according to Kanzig. “It actually may be only six teams this year since Sweet Home’s numbers are low and they may not be able to field a complete team,” he said. “In a small meet like this every single place really counts and we can expect some very close team scores.”