Runners prep for district finals
Last updated 10/24/2023 at 10:29am
The Sisters High School team is in its final preparations for the District Championships set for Friday, October 27 at Pendleton Community Park in Pendleton.
It's a long bus trip for the boys and girls teams that look to return to the state meet, which has become an annual tradition for the program, but worth every mile.
"We're sort of a quiet sport compared to some of the other team sports at Sisters High, so the community at large may not realize that our teams have been competitive at the state level for over 25 consecutive years," said Coach Charlie Kanzig.
One look at the district championship banners in the high school gymnasium tells the story graphically. Only girls volleyball has more district titles and state appearances than the Outlaws cross- country team since the high school opened in 1992.
And at the district meet, which serves as the qualification for the state championships approaching, the Outlaws appear poised to return to the November 4 OSAA Championships at Lane Community College.
Both girls and boys teams are ranked among the top seven in the latest coaches' poll and Kanzig believes both teams are ready to move up from there.
"It's very difficult to compare teams when they haven't gone head to head, but we look as strong or stronger than last year overall," he said. "Since our special district includes all of the far Eastern Oregon teams, which we haven't raced against yet, it's a little hard to tell how we stack up, but I think we're in a good position to advance."
The boys are the defending district champions, while the girls finished a strong fourth last year and were selected as an at-large team to run at State
The boys edged Enterprise (Wallowa County) for the district title last year, but Enterprise (also the Outlaws) turned the table at state and picked up the fourth-place trophy while Sisters placed sixth.
"This year's boys team doesn't have a front-runner, but the five scorers consistently run within 30 or 40 seconds of one another near the front, which has allowed us to beat many 3A teams throughout the season," said Kanzig. "They just keep getting a little faster as a group, which bodes well for us over the next two weeks. Our top five, Spencer Tisdel, Will McDonnell, Colton Middlestetter, John Berg, and Thomas Hamerly are very consistent and competitive."
The girls team is much stronger up front than last year and Kanzig believes they will more than hold their own at District.
"Last year our girls district teams comprised the toughest district in the state and earned all of the at-large berths, and we expect it to be a battle again this year because all the top teams returned strong runners" said Kanzig.
"Ella Bartlett, Brooke Duey, and Josie Ryan are a very strong trio and Kolby McMahon stays close to them as well," said Kanzig. "The key for us will be our depth."
With the championship meets looming, Kanzig hopes that the school and community will recognize these runners, who have quietly gone about their business, logging miles and miles on the roads and trails around Sisters in preparation for the two meets that matter most, District and State.
"Everything we have done is designed to run well when it counts," said Kanzig. "Come rain or shine or wind or a long bus ride we will be ready to do our best."