EUGENE -- Lake Oswego junior Kate Peters bided her time early, then unleashed a ferocious final mile to win the 6A girls individual title at the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union cross country championships at Lane Community College on Saturday.
Nobody was willing to push the pace in the opening stages of the race as a pack of 20 girls was separated by less than five seconds at the mile mark. Peters had the lead at two miles, but there were still six girls within a second, including main challenger, Jesuit senior Chloe Foerster.
Peters made her move after the two-mile mark and quickly she and Foerster had opened up a sizable gap on the field. Peters never looked back and had opened up a 30-meter gap on Foerster when they hit the track. Peters cruised to victory from there in 17:28.7, ahead of Foerster, second in 17:35.0. Franklin senior Kaiya Robertson was third in 17:44.6.
“I decided to go with the pack for two miles and then make a move and see what I got,” Peters said.
“It was tough for sure,” Foerster said. “We dropped the pace massively. It was very tough trying to keep up with her. She was going very hard. I just wish I had a little more in the tank at the end and was closer on the track.”
“I was feeling pretty good,” Peters added. “Definitely scared that she might catch me, because she’s got a pretty good kick. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.”
The Summit girls claimed its 13th consecutive state championship, dating back to the 2008 season, placing all seven runners in the top 28 to outdistance runner-up Jesuit, 55-58. Lincoln finished third with 101 points and Franklin was fourth with 142.
Junior Ella Thorsett led four Storm girls in the top 10, placing sixth in 18:02.1. Senior Teaghan Knox was eighth in 18:08.7, junior Barrett Justema was ninth in 18:13.1 and senior Maggie Williams was 10th in 18:14.3.
“I’m very happy for the girls,” Summit coach Kari Strang said. “I thought it went great. It was an incredible competition. A very deep field, the girls ran great and laid it all out there. They gave it everything they had. Jesuit is really strong and Lincoln is strong. It was a really fun day of racing.”
Crescent Valley freshman Emily Wisniewski extended her lead every mile in a convincing victory in 18:27.9 in the 5A girls race. West Albany senior Megumi Ludlow was second in 18:53.1, ahead of Ashland senior Grace Yaconelli, 18:56.8.
Wisniewski led a tight pack through the first mile, but opened up a 14-second lead during the second mile.
“I felt pretty good today,” Wisniewski said. “The course was really nice, just the hills are very tiring. Like my past races, I try to stay with people the first mile and then open up the gap.”
Corvallis had four in the top 12 overall to repeat as team champions from 2019, when it won the first ever cross country state title in school history. Crescent Valley finished second with 75 points, ahead of Ashland (124) and Hood River Valley (129).
“It was really good,” Corvallis coach Mark Hulburt said. “I was scared, because we lost one of our top runners.”
Spartans senior Madeline Nason, the defending state champion from 2019, did not run in the meet.
All the Corvallis finishers are underclassmen, so this squad is not done taking down trophies at the state meet.
“They are all coming back,” Hulburt added. “So we are going to be pretty strong next year.”
La Grande sophomore Emily Tubbs took the early lead and extended it each mile to pull out the victory in 19:04.6, ahead of the Phoenix duo of senior Sophia Stubblefield (19:18.9) and Kyla Potratz (19:20.3).
“It was really tough,” Tubbs said. “Especially the second mile. The course was slippery. I always felt like there was somebody right behind me, so I kept pushing.”
“It’s really incredible to get the win today,” added Tubbs. “Our school is really small and they don’t really care about our cross country team. It’s great to do something to show them that we are actually good, that we deserve some recognition. I’m super close with my team, they all mean so much to me because we all push each other.”
Siuslaw was fifth at the first mile split and third at the two-mile mark, but closed hard to nip league rival Philomath for the team title by a single point, 85-86. Marist Catholic was a close third with 93 points, ahead of La Grande (111).
“If you know these girls, they have persevered,” Siuslaw coach Chris Johnson. “Everyday, it was like you got to believe in yourselves. To see all this talent percolating to the surface -- it was just a matter about having experience after experience to build their confidence. They had a different look today.”
Columbia Christian senior Makena Houston went straight to the lead and never looked back in a convincing victory in 19:05.9 in her first state championship meet. Houston, who was under the weather physically, was looking for the course record and disappointed with her time.
“It was rough,” Houston said. “I was very sick this morning. I had food poisoning. It was by far not the kind of race that I wanted to run, not breaking 19 minutes. I’m looking forward to my track season. Hopefully, that will be a kind of redemption for me.”
In the first race of the day, it was cloudy and rain was coming down hard for the first few minutes. Houston did not think the course was slow.
“I feel like it was still pretty fast,” Houston said. “It was muddy in some parts, but the bark dust that makes up the majority of the course is very responsive. Overall, it was still pretty fast.”
Catlin Gabel junior Megan Cover finished second in 19:26.6 and East Linn Christian freshman Daisy Lalonde was third in 19:34.9.
In the closest team race of the day, Bandon prevailed over Vernonia via the sixth woman tiebreaker, after tying at 74 points through five runners.
“It feels great,” Bandon coach Brent Hutton said. “These girls have worked so hard. We only have six girls, so to do it and have everybody matter on the scoreboard, it’s pretty cool to see.”
Union finished third with 94 points and Burns took home the fourth place trophy with 134 points.