Jesuit's Makenna Schumacher (226) and Alexis Kebbe (223) were first and third, respectively, at state. (NW Sports Photography)
Jesuit's Makenna Schumacher (226) and Alexis Kebbe (223) were first and third, respectively, at state. (NW Sports Photography)

It’s a showdown long in the making.

Many have speculated how it would play out if Jesuit’s girls cross country team, winner of 11 Class 6A titles since 2002, matched up at the state meet against Summit, 10-time reigning champion in Class 5A.

This year, we get to find out.

Summit has moved up to Class 6A and is on a collision course with Jesuit.

“I think it’s time,” Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger said. “There would’ve been some great state meets over the last 10 years had they all been together. It’ll be fun.”

Summit coach Carol McLatchie said the Storm is looking forward to it.

“It should be interesting,” McLatchie said. “The older ones know it’s a step up. I don’t know if the younger ones have a clue yet.”

Both teams are loaded. Jesuit brings back six of its top seven runners from last year’s repeat state champion. Summit returns five of its top six. Both have promising freshmen.

And the budding rivalry has a twist this year as junior Kelsey Gripekoven, who placed fifth in the Class 6A meet for Jesuit last year, has transferred to Summit. Her addition could tip things in the Storm’s favor.

“That’s kind of an interesting dynamic,” Rothenberger said.

So how would the teams have matched up at state last year? Of course, there are many variables, but based on finishing times from the meets at Lane Community College, it would have been very close. Between the teams, Jesuit would have finished 1-2-3-7-11, with Summit going 4-5-6-8-9.

Does Summit feel as if it has something to prove in Class 6A?

“I guess so, in a way,” McLatchie said. “5A was always pretty comfortable, not that we didn’t work hard. It’s definitely a bigger challenge. I think we’re ready to step up. We’ve always had very high expectations.”

Jesuit’s lineup features the reigning state champion in senior Makenna Schumacher, who also has won the 3,000 meters in the Class 6A track meet the last two years.

The Crusaders also have junior Alexis Kebbe (third at state), seniors Elizabeth Rinck (13th) and Hallie DeVore (ninth at state as a freshman, 32nd last year) and decorated freshman Chloe Foerster, who placed in the Junior Olympic national meet last year.

“She’s very accomplished. She’s an outstanding talent,” Rothenberger said of Foerster. “She’ll be an impact athlete. She could be in our top three.”

Likewise, Summit is flush with talent. The addition of Gripekoven will help the Storm make up for the graduation of state champion Taylor Vandenborn. The team brings back juniors Fiona Max (second at state), Isabel Max (third) and Stella Skovborg (sixth) and senior Liv Downing (fifth).

Teaghan Knox, a 6-foot freshman, should give Summit a jolt. She was the team’s third runner in its first meet.

“She’s all arms and legs,” McLatchie said. “It’ll be interesting to see how she shakes out. Right now we’re just kind of keeping her dialed down a little bit because she’s so young.”

The teams will meet once during the regular season, Sept. 8 at the Ash Creek Festival in Monmouth, although Jesuit seniors will miss the meet to take standardized tests, according to Rothenberger.

“We don’t put too much stock in what’s going to happen in September,” Rothenberger said. “We’ll be able to start seeing by the first or second week of October. You’ll kind of have a sense of who’s coming together.”

The rivalry will continue in track season. Jesuit’s girls have won the last three Class 6A titles; Summit won all 12 state titles since the formation of Class 5A.