Courtesy By: Michael Bergmann
The St Mary's Blues Varsity Girls were prepared for their first big test of the season as they approached the Western Oregon University campus on a beautiful September day in Oregon. The team rode down together trying to avoid the traffic on the Interstate one of the few Saturdays that Oregon and Oregon State both had home football games in the area.
The Blues made good enough time to stop on the way to decorate Coach Bergmann's vehicle with powerful pink and blue window paint showing the spirit that these athletes brought to the race.
The race plan for the day was to have two groups move throughout the race in unison as they have been doing throughout the workouts in the past month. The lead group's plan was to position themselves between 5th and 15th at the mile and begin to move up throughout the race. Our top returning runner Alexa Kearns used a great degree of discipline and trust in her coaches to stay in that position rather than run up with the leaders on this day pulling her teammates along in a pack. Senior Captain Taylor Ffitch and Lucy Whipps positioned themselves stride for stride with Alexa moving patiently up into the top 10 as the 2nd mile passed.
The chase pack of Alexandra Jones, Stephanie McCuaig, Tara Higgins, Jen Olson and Erin Bergmann started out conservatively in 30-36th place over the initial mile. The plan for the chase group was to begin to race once they hit the mile point. The team executed the plan beautifully as they pushed the pace over the final two miles with Jones leading the way nearly catching the lead group by the final stretch. Alexandra Jones who won the Tillamook Invitatational JV 3k race the previous week tested her fitness level by moving into the top 10 with 300 meters to go.
The final stretch pushed Fitch, Whipps and Kearns into the final 100 meters stride for stride as they finished in 6th, 7th, 8th within 1 second.....Jones came into the final stretch finishing within 8 seconds of the top three putting the 1-4 runners within 8 seconds. Senior Tara Higgins improved over her previous years time by 1:52 seconds to run a PR of 19:48 : 45 seconds behind the top runner. Stephanie McCuaig PR'd on the New Balance Course by over 90 seconds showing the summer and preseason work is paying off. Jen Olson and Erin Bergmann finished up by placing 8 St Mary's Athletes in the top 31 in the Sweepstakes race at New Balance.
The final score of 46 points outdistanced 2006 state runner up Sunset by 60 points.
The JV girls team has shown the future is bright with a JV sweepstakes win of 42 points.
The effort that these athletes at St Mary's has put them into contention for a trophy at state and a berth at Nike Team Nationals ranking 2nd in the Oregon State Polls and 6th in the Nike Team Nationals Northwest Region Rankings.
The team will focus its training through the weeks leading up to the Pepperdine Invitational in Malibu California on September 22nd.