Cross-country teams punch ticket to State meet
Last updated 11/2/2021 at Noon
In the days leading up to the Oregon West District cross-country meet, the girls on the Sisters Outlaws team knew that all five scorers had a job to do for them to have any hope of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the state championships. There was no room for error, season bests would be needed, along, perhaps, with a bit of luck.
The races were held Thursday, October 28, at Lane Community College. While it was clear that none of the other teams in the league could take down Philomath, the number two-ranked team in the state, the second qualifying spot was expected to be a battle between Stayton, Cascade, Newport, and the Outlaws.
“We knew it was equally likely that we would finish fifth as second because we lacked the team depth of most years,” said Head Coach Charlie Kanzig. “But as it turned out, these girls had no intention of placing anything but second.”
The Outlaws ended up placing three girls in the top 10, while the fourth and fifth runners both ran personal bests, giving Sisters a five-point edge over Newport — and a ticket to the State meet.
Ella Bartlett and Sasha Stolasz ran with the lead pack from the outset and when the favorite, Adele Beckstead of Philomath, faltered and eventually dropped out, Bartlett found herself in a race for the individual title with Newport’s Aliya Larsen. Larsen pulled away over the final 400 meters to win in 20:20. Bartlett clocked 20:23 for second place.
Meanwhile Stolasz was engaged in a battle of her own, knowing that if she could place in top five she would qualify as an individual if the team didn’t make it. Stolasz was in seventh place with a mile to go and had moved up to sixth in the final half mile when a Cascade runner in front of her dropped out.
“When I realized I was in fifth place there was no way I was going to let anyone pass me,” she said.
No one caught her, and the result was a personal record of 21:09.
Brooklyn Liddell, who joined the team mid-season, ran a season best of 21:49 to place 10th, and twins Nevaeh (23:16) and Delaney McAfee (26:07) both lopped off a minute from their previous bests to place 17th and 29th respectively.
As expected Philomath stormed to the team title, tallying 39 points. Sisters scored 58, Stayton 63, Newport 90 and Cascade 91.
Dulce Dunham (27:13) and Mae Roth (28:01) also competed for the Outlaws.
The Outlaws boys had a little bit more breathing room on their way to a runner-up finish behind Philomath. Once again, it was the depth and tight packing of the team that led to success.
Just one minute stood between Sisters’ top five scorers, and the Outlaws placed all seven runners in the top 24 to garner 52 points. Philomath won the team title with 37 points behind the sweep of the top three places.
Cole Jervis uncorked a career best of 17:44 as the first Outlaw across the line, in sixth place, just ahead of Hayden Roth who finished next in 17:46. Max Palanuk placed 11th (18:13), Kaleb Briggs 14th (18:28), and Spencer Tisdel 19th (18:45).
As the sixth and seventh runners, Evan Eby (18:59) and George Roberts (19:25) helped the Outlaws’ cause by placing ahead of all the other team’s fifth scorers.
“As it has been all season, these guys ran close together in top third of the field and it paid off,” said Kanzig.
Colton Middlestetter, Erik Ryan, John Berg, and Jackson Griffin swept the top four places, and Eli Palanuk placed sixth, as the junior varsity boys nearly attained a perfect score on their way to the junior varsity team title.
Entering the State meet, which is set for Saturday, November 6, at Lane Community College, the boys team ranks somewhere in the upper middle of the 12 teams that will toe the line. Siuslaw is the overwhelming favorite to win the team title, but the other three trophies appear to be up for grabs, according to Kanzig.
“At State it’s always about who shows up really ready to compete,” he said. “We are healthy and ready so I expect we will run well.”
For the girls the challenge will be the time gap of the scorers, according to Kanzig. “In a larger meet it’s tough to overcome long stretches of time between scorers, but many teams, even among those that qualified for State, have spreads similar to ours,” he said. One thing is for certain — all these kids will give their best efforts.”
All six school classifications from 1A to 6A run at Lane Community College on Saturday, November 6 for the State meet. The 4A girls race is scheduled to begin at 11:45, followed by the boys at 12:20. The complete schedule, along with ticket information, can be found online at http://www.osaa.org.