2013 Oregon XC Preview
Oregon harrier fans should have a number of things to look forward to this coming season including the rubber match between Sarah Tsai & Paige Rice in the 6A division. Tsai of South Eugene is the defending State champion in 6A, while Rice of St. Mary’s Academy won the event in 2011. Rice will close an outstanding career, which includes a second place finish behind Annamarie Maag of Jesuit & a fifth place last fall. Their match should be one of the highlights and hopefully one of them or another Oregonian will break the state’s string of Foot Locker absences that dates back to 2008.
Photo byL Drew Wasmund
In truth there is some fine quality at the 6A level and the championship will not simply be between Tsai & Rice. Although both Maggie Schmaedick of Sheldon (2nd), Parkes Kendrick of Grant (3rd) and Erin Clark (6th - a former state champion in track) have moved on due to graduation, Ella Donaghu, who won the Northwest Classic and at Concordia, returns off of her fourth place finish. Gracie Todd of Sheldon will look to improve on her seventh place finish, while Charlotte Corliss of Sunset is coming off an eighth place effort. Also figuring in the mix is Brooke Chuhlantseff of West Salem, who garnered ninth after claiming victories at the Saxon (South Salem) & North Marion. Piper Donaghu of Grant and Ellie Kallgren of Jesuit should not be overlooked either after having come home last fall in the top dozen.
At the boys’ 6A level Jackson Darland of Sheldon and Dan Oekerman of Beaverton were the top two placers, which leaves an opening for Kyle Thompson of Central Catholic to improve on his third place effort. The Ram star triumphed as a sophomore, so there is anticipation in the first place, but Thompson also aspires to lead his squad to a repeat state title. With Sam Lomax (11th), Jean Baptiste Tooley (15th), Dante Dalla Gasperina (17th), Daniel Thompson (23rd) & Sam Truax (24th) all making a return engagement coach Dave Frank has a very formidable squad, which ought to be able to contend for Northwest honors with the crew from North Central in Washington and at state Thompson should have plenty of help as he works towards a double victory. Ray Schireman of North Medford was the next high finisher last fall with this seventh place finish but he is the only runner returning from the top ten. His top three team mates from his second place squad will not be back to aid this year however. TJ Wright of Sheldon, who finished twelfth, is the fourth highest returnee behind the aforementioned Sam Lomax. Sam Remington, who came in 18th, will lead Jesuit as the Crusaders also reload.
For the last five campaigns the story in girls’ 5A has been Summit and this year it should be no different, as Hannah Gindlesperger will lead the squad after finishing third last year. Only Tess Nelson, who placed 24th will move to the collegiate level, but the rest of the top five will be back including Veronique Calmels, who was 26th. The divisional winner Grace Grim of Hood River looks to defend her title but she will not have to deal with MaryKate McGuire of Dallas, who graduated. Challenging also should be Emma Wren of Cleveland fourth in 2012. Taryn Rawlings of Wilsonville garnered sixth last year, which improved upon here tenth place finish of 2011. Taryn secured second as a freshman, so she is certainly capable of winning. Other top ten finishers are Katie Markwick of Hermiston (7th), Rylie Nikolaus of Mountain View (9th) and Rachel Khaw of Liberty (10th).
Travis Neuman dominated the 5A division with back to back championships the past two years after racking up second and ninth place finishes as a sophomore and freshman respectively, so his departure will certainly be felt. His team mate Matthew Maton claimed second last year yet was just ahead of the Hermiston trio of Alejandro Cisneros, Eduardo Juarez and Jose Macias. With only Juarez moving on there should be a wonderful contest to succeed Neuman. Nabi Amin of Cleveland placed seventh as a sophomore last year and looks to improve, while also deserving consideration are Dakota Thornton of Mountain View (9th) plus 11th & 12th place finishers Gabe Wyllie & Roba Sultessa of Cleveland. Team-wise both Hermiston and Cleveland should be formidable up front, so the question is only whether others can step up to fill the void of departures.
Katy Potter added to the great tradition of Siuslaw in 4A but she along with Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley and Alisha Luna of Klamath Union moved to the collegiate ranks. Luna, who finished third, will be remembered for her two titles the previous two years. Nevina Deluca of Phoenix edged Amanda Welch of La Grande for fourth and Carly Veasy of LaSalle was closed behind so that trio will be likely suspects this campaign. Charlie Davidson of Scappoose & Emily Beaver of Molalla came in 7th & 8threpsectively, while Dakota Steen of Ridgeview was tenth & the last runner to break twenty minutes. Matthew Campbell of Siuslaw edged his racing partner Mitchell Butler for a state crown last fall but only Butler returns. That pair was well ahead of any contenders, so it is assumed that Butler has the inside track this year. Mark Marbas, also from Siuslaw, is the next best returner with his fifth place effort. Jack Hiett of Sweet Home took 8th as a sophomore and Will Thompson of La Salle was tenth.
Nick Obletz of Oregon Episcopal spread-eagled the field last year and his departure leaves the 3A field open to the next five finishers, who should all be on hand once again. David Ribich of Enterprise was a solid second, while Zach Bellew of Creswell, Sisay Gillock of Southwest Christian and Andrew Hinkel of Portland Christian swept the next three places. Katriel O’Reilly will return to defend her title this fall and her top rival may still be McKenzie Evans, who is also from Union. Olivia Powell of Cresswell followed them in third and was the last runner under twenty minutes.
Oregon has a fine history in cross country and once it was one of the leading states, especially given its size bit the past decade has seen a dearth of achievements in the nation’s premier cross country event. While Washington has had a minimum of one contestant each year of the century Oregon has not had a runner since Taylor Wallace qualified for the second time in 2008. Wallace in fact has been the state’s only female qualifier of the century, while no male runner has qualified since Kenny Klotz & Isaac Stoutenburgh made it in 2005. It should be noted that Erin Clark did the state proud last year, when she became the first alternate from the West by placing eleventh. For the guys Matt Melancon and Bryce Burgess were near misses with their 11th place finishes in 2010 and 2007 respectively. Still the state needs to be represented and, although a shot at the team thing is understandable, it is the Foot Locker honor that is vastly superior on an individual level. Let us hope the state finally is represented at the prep Mecca for harriers come December.