It's a special moment for a runner who gets to run in Oregon, a state that is a Mecca for the sport. Not only is the state host to the 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials, but it's a place where running is a part of the culture.

Hartland junior Avery Evenson not only got to run, but she had the opportunity to race in Portland, Ore., at Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday.

The top high school teams and individuals had to qualify for the race at eight regional meets across the country. Evenson wrote her ticket to the prestigious meet by taking third at the Midwest regional in Terre Haute, Ind., last month. Only five individuals qualified.

At Saturday's nationals, Evenson took 65th in a field of 196 in a time of 18 minutes, 57 seconds.

"It was so cool to make it," she said. "I'm glad I had that run at the regionals to make it (there)."

The race wasn't the typical 5K. It took place on a horse racing track, and the runners completed two loops. They had to jump hay bales at four different points and they traversed what the locals called "Whoop de doos," a set of five small hills.

But none of those things were the hardest part.

"It was very muddy," Evenson said. "There were parts where your foot was up to your ankle in mud. People's shoes were falling off. The mud was difficult because your legs were sinking with every step."

Although difficult, Evenson said the course was still decently fast. She said she was 12th at the mile, but couldn't hold the pace. She didn't dwell on the numbers, though.

"I am happy with just getting (there) and the experience of it was really cool," she said.

It certainly was an experience. Race weekend involved touring the Nike campus where the company's professional athletes train, meeting Nike's professional runners and Olympic athletes, getting a lot of cool Nike running swag and meeting the best high school runners in the country. Evenson said she spent nearly all of her time with her Midwest teammates and became friends with everyone.

"The whole weekend was amazing," she said.

Like a true competitor, the experience also motivated her. Next year, she wants to be in the top 21.

"I want to be All-American, that would be awesome," she said.