The OSAA cross country championships at Lane Community College on Saturday has a chance to be historic on several fronts.
The Summit girls, defending Nike Cross Nationals champions and US No. 1, cruised through Bush Park in Salem on Saturday and won the Mountain Valley Conference title with 20 points. Perhaps nothing else can illustrated how deep the Storm is than the fact that the school also swept the top nine places in the junior varsity race -- with Azza Borovicka Swanson running 17:59, which was faster than the varsity race.
At state, Summit will take aim at its 12th state title in a row.
"We're not taking anything for granted," coach Carol McLatchie said.
That's because Jesuit was impressive on Wednesday at the Metro League Championships at Tualatin Hills Recreation Center. The Crusaders secured five of the top seven places -- and all five ran under 18 minutes, 20 seconds on the 5,000-meter layout. Sophomore Chloe Foerster won it in 17:17.9.
The Summit-Jesuit matchup could be one of the best in state meet history.
Meanwhile, in the 5A boys race, Ashland senior E.J. Holland will try to win his second consecutive title and he has a chance to secure a legacy as one of the best distance runners in state history.
Holland breezed through the Midwestern League Championship in Springfield on Wednesday in 15:39.8. He stayed up in the Willamette Valley after the meet and attended the Pac-12 Cross Country Championships in Monmouth on Friday. The University of Oregon commit wore green and yellow and ran on the Ash Creek Preserve course after the meet was over.
"It's actually the first time I've ever seen a college cross country meet," Holland said.
Holland believes he has the fitness and strength to contend for a national championship in the post-season. If conditions are favorable, he may be able to surpass Matthew Maton's all-time championships record time of 14:45 at Lane.
More than three weeks ago, Holland ran 14:51 for 5,000 meters on a course where he accidentally made a wrong turn and had to back-track to the correct path.
Additionally, Ashland will be trying to win the 5A team title after going 1-2-3-4 on the way to 23 points at the district meet.
At the Mid-Willamette League Championships on Saturday, the Corvallis girls edged North Salem 39-40 in a very tight team race that could be a preview of what's to come at state. Both teams are looking to unseat Hood River Valley as the 5A girls champion. It's not going to be easy. HRV scored 24 points to win the IMC title at Sorosis Park in The Dalles.
Ahmed Ibrahim of Parkrose won the Northwest Oregon Conference title by 59 seconds at Blue Lake Park. Wilsonville dominated the boys and girls team races.
The 6A boys competition could boil down to Jesuit, which put seven runners in the top 11 at the Metro League meet -- all under 15:52 -- and the PIL's Franklin, which has two individual title contenders in Aidan Palmer and Charlie Robertson.
It would be a mistake to leave out the defending champions from Central Catholic, although the Rams had their hands full at the Mt. Hood Conference meet and beat Clackamas 45-47. Central Catholic has won 11 state championships in the past 16 years.
Sherwood was impressive in the Pacific Conference meet in McMinnville. After Forest Grove's Quincy Norman, it was all Bowmen. Sherwood's entire varsity seven finished in the top eight and were separated by 23 seconds.
At the Three Rivers League Championship at Clackamas Community College on Wednesday, the West Linn girls edged Tualatin 53-55 for the top spot. The Timberwolves' Kaitlyn Gearin ran 18:13.1 for the individual victory. Tualatin won the boys title with 41 points, led by Andrew Payton's second straight district title.
At the Southwest Conference Championship on Wednesday, South Eugene swept the team titles. Madison Elmore ran 18:11.6 to lead a near-perfect 16-point effort for the girls. Vincent Mestler of Sheldon ran 15:40.6 for a district title but South scored 32 points to Sheldon's 52.
In 4A, Siuslaw pulled out a pair of team championships at the Sky-Em League Championships -- both by a single point over Marist Catholic.
With two freshmen running in the top five, Siuslaw's boys edged Marist Catholic 37-38 for the league title. The girls varsity race was just as close. Behind winner Anika Thompson of Junction City, who clocked 18:01, Siuslaw put five scorers in the top 10. Marist Catholic put its five scorers in the top 11. When it was all tabulated, it was Siuslaw 32, Marist Catholic 33.
In the Oregon West Championships at Stayton, the Sisters boys edged Philomath 39-43 with John Peckham and Will Thorsett going 1-2 for the Outlaws. Hannah Hernandez led Philomath to the girls team title with 41 points as Stayton (48) and Sisters (54) were close.
Tillamook swept the Cowapa League titles in Warrenton.
In Pendleton, Burns and Enterprise went to a sixth-runner tiebreaker to decide the boys team title in the Special District 3 meet after both teams scored 32 points. Burns pulled it out on the strength of sophomore Spencer Johnson, who was one place and three seconds faster than Enterprise's sixth runner.
The Burns girls had no such drama, winning with 26 points.
Union's boys won the 2A/1A portion of the district and advanced to state after scoring a scant 25 points.
Catlin Gabel swept the team titles in Special District 1 and St. Stephen's Academy put a strong group performance together in the 2A/1A race, showing that it could take down Union next week.
Doug Binder is the editor of DyeStat.com