News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Outlaws boys are district cross-country champs

A 500-mile round trip and a new classification with relatively unknown competition didn’t thwart the Outlaw boys cross-country team on its way to the district title. They claimed the crown in convincing fashion, earning a berth to the state championships.

Travel fatigue did not appear to be a factor at the October 28 meet at Pendleton Community Park, where the Outlaw boys faced off with the other Special District 3 teams in the 3A classification.

The race came down to the Outlaws versus the Outlaws, as reigning state champion Enterprise provided the closest threat. But with five Sisters runners finishing in the top 12 the win ended up being clearcut.

Seniors Hayden Roth (16:39) and Cole Jervis (16:59) paced the Outlaws up front, finishing third and fourth respectively. Spencer Tisdel (17:34), John Berg (17:34) and Ace Chew (17:36) came through in 10th, 11th, and 12th to seal the win with 40 points. Eli Palanuk ran his best time to finish in 19:38 for 29th place.

Enterprise placed second with 50 and Burns scored 66 for third.

The top two teams automatically qualify and Burns earned an at-large berth, so all three teams will face off again at the OSAA State Championships set for Saturday, November 5 at Lane Community College in Eugene.

“By the mile mark it was clear that Sisters was controlling the race,” said volunteer coach Dennis Dempsey. “They really raced as a group.”

Wyatt Montgomery of La?Pine led from start to finish on the flat, fast course and clocked a career best of 15:48.

The girls team had a more indirect path to returning to the state meet in the 3A/2A/1A race. Brooke Duey finished fourth and Ella Bartlett fifth to pace the Outlaws, while the next three scorers, Nevaeh McAfee (22:19), Freja Pederson (22:56), and Delaney McAfee (23:17) all ran personal records on their way to placing in the upper middle of the pack.

When scores were tallied, Sisters found itself in fourth place behind Enterprise, Union, and Burns — one place out of automatic qualifying for State. The team had to wait until Saturday afternoon to receive word that they had been picked as the first of two at-large berths to the state championships. In fact, Heppner, fifth place in the meet, earned the other berth giving Special District 3 five teams at the state meet.

Mae Roth (23:45) and Naomi Bennette (23:55) completed the Outlaws’ varsity team.

“Although I expected we would be the first team picked due to the size and competitiveness of our district, I have to admit it was a happy email to get from the OSAA,” said Head Coach Charlie Kanzig.

“We asked the girls to pull together despite some recent injuries and absences, and they did everything they needed to do to make it,” he added.

Burns freshman Sydney White won the individual title in 19:16. Seven of the top 10 finishers in the meet were freshmen.

“Ella had beaten the top two finishers in the past and, though she was disappointed, she gets another crack at them at State,” said Kanzig.

The boys’ performance has put the team back into consideration for a top-four finish at State and another trophy, but the competition is very good among the top six 3A teams, according to Kanzig.

“We got second at State last year, behind Siuslaw and ahead of fourth-place Valley Catholic, and both of those teams also moved to the 3A classification this year, so it looks like a similar battle ahead,” he said. “Oregon Episcopal, Santiam Christian, and Enterprise will also be in the mix. It should be a very good team race.”

The girls team doesn’t appear to have the depth to break into the top six teams, but Kanzig says the goal is to simply go in with the attitude of placing as high as possible.

“The 3A/2A/1A teams are just as good as the 4A teams this year, if not better,” said Kanzig. “Ella rates among the top 10 individuals, and Brooke is coming on,” he said. “And we know that we can count on all the girls to give it their best.”


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