After sweeping the boys and girls titles at the season-ending 4A Showcase meet in April, Siuslaw is in position to go after OSAA boys and girls championships this fall.
In April, the Siuslaw boys won a close team race with 70 points to outdistance Philomath (77), Sisters (81) and Hidden Valley (96), The Vikings won an equally close race on the girls side with 81 points over Sisters (87) and Baker (89).
Siuslaw has been a consistent threat to trophy at the state meet and has picked up a lot of hardware over Johnson’s tenure. The girls squad finished first or second at state for eight straight years, winning six titles from 2003-2010. The boys team finished first or second in five straight seasons from 2009-2013, winning back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
Siuslaw coach Chris Johnson is not worried about past success, he is more focused on the future.
“This year it is a different group of people,” Johnson said. “There are different kids running varsity than last year, the girls team is a whole bunch of different girls.”
“Last year is in the rearview mirror, that’s the past and we are always looking for the future and the present. It’s today, tomorrow and next week and hopefully getting prepared to come back and defend some championships on Nov. 6th on both sides.”
The No. 1-ranked boys team returns its top three finishers from last season in senior Chad Hughes (eighth) and juniors Samuel Ulrich (ninth) and Kyle Hughes (15th). Siuslaw will be challenged by No. 2-ranked Philomath, which is led by the top returning runner in 4A, junior Brody Bushnell.
Marshfield junior Alexander Garcia-Silver and Phoenix senior Elwood Hosking will be in the mix for the individual boys title.
Senior Rylee Colton, the top 4A returnee from last year, leads a young group of Siuslaw girls. The Vikings will be challenged by No. 1-ranked Marist Catholic and No. 3-ranked Philomath for the team championship.
Marist Catholic senior Jennifer Tsai, Valley Catholic junior Maslin Sigler and Philomath freshman Adele Beckstead will challenge Colton for the individual girls title.
For Johnson, it’s a simple formula for building good cross country teams; tons and tons of hard work.
“We have kids who buy in,” Johnson said. “Distance running is really simple. It’s a simple formula. You run year round, you run all the time, you train smart, you train hard. Live like a clock, eat right, sleep right. The kids believe in what we are doing.”
“I have lots of years of experience writing a training plan. It’s not me. It’s just getting kids to come do it everyday, because this isn’t a fun sport. We don’t sugarcoat anything. It’s like this is going to be hard, we are going to train really hard and hopefully all these steps along the way amount to something at the end.”
A look at meets last week:
Fugate Farms Bandon Invite, at Bandon, Tuesday
Girls -- Senior Holly Hutton led the Bandon girls to a perfect score victory at its home invite with a time of 20:32. The Tigers scoring runners were; Junior Danielle McLain, sophomore Cassie Kennon, senior Aunika Miller and sophomore Analise Miller.
Team Scores: Bandon 15, Myrtle Point 47, Cascade Christian 70, Reedsport 88.
Boys -- Tigers senior Ansen Converse got the win in 16:54.94 as Bandon’s boys had seven of the top 10 finishers to dominate the boys race. Gianni Altman of Gold Beach was second in 17:17.15, ahead of Bandon junior Patton Clark in 17:17.90.
Team Scores: Bandon 15, Cascade Christian 58, Douglas 67.
Jefferson Invitational, at Jefferson HS, Tuesday
Girls -- Scio junior Athena Lau won by almost two minutes in 20:24 as Harrisburg beat Santiam for the team title. Central senior Sophie Bliss was second in 22:19.55, ahead of Cascade freshman Jaci Nixon in 22:19.83.
Team Scores: Harrisburg 30, Santiam 39, Santiam Christian 56.
Boys -- Santiam Christian junior Benjamin Bourne won convincingly in 16:27 to lead the Eagles to the team title. Junior Colin Longballa was second in 17:51 for Santiam Christian and Regis senior Tanner Manning was third in 17:54.
Team Scores: Santiam Christian 59, Willamina 99, Cascade 102, Woodburn 107, North Marion 131, Central 132, Harrisburg 146, Jefferson 172, Regis 200, Sheridan 217.