On paper, Summit has an advantage over Jesuit heading into a much-anticipated clash of titans in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 6A girls cross country meet Saturday at Lane Community College.
But Summit coach Carol McLatchie, whose team has moved up one classification after winning 10 consecutive 5A titles, wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Rothenberger, coach of two-time reigning 6A champion Jesuit, has something up his sleeve.
“We’re always nervous about Jesuit,” McLatchie said. “He’s a cagey coach, in a good way.”
The showdown has been in the works ever since Summit of Bend was ticketed to join 6A this year. The Storm ran roughshod over 5A, but the lingering question has always been how it would fare in the big-school division.
If the regular season is any indication, Summit is the team to beat Saturday.
“Obviously we’re in chase,” Rothenberger said. “Summit’s the favorite, and we’re going to try to chase them down. We’re actually kind of embracing that role. It’s kind of fun.”
The teams met once this season, at the 18-team Ash Creek Festival on Sept. 8. Jesuit senior Makenna Schumacher, the reigning 6A champion, edged Summit junior Fiona Max by two-tenths of a second for first place, but the Storm held down positions 2-5 and outscored the Crusaders 22-51 for the team title.
“The rumor was that all of the Jesuit seniors had exams or tests that day, but they all showed up,” McLatchie said. “So we were kind of smiling on that.”
Rothenberger said Jesuit used the Ash Creek meet as a training marker after the team did a 30-minute time trial the previous week.
“We knew where we had some weaknesses, so we wanted to expose those and see where we’re at,” Rothenberger said.
Schumacher, who repeated as the 3,000-meter state champion during track season, has plenty of momentum entering the meet. She won the Metro League district meet in 17 minutes, 12.3 seconds, a personal best by 23 seconds and the leading time in the state this season by 12 seconds over Lincoln senior Kyla Becker.
Rothenberger said Schumacher is running faster than Annamarie Maag, who won three state titles for Jesuit (2008-10), and isn’t far off the pace set by the Crusaders’ all-time best runner, 1993 champion Melissa Lucas.
“Tualatin Hills is a fast course, but we’ve not had a girl run that fast there before,” Rothenberger said. “So it was pretty impressive. And she looked pretty pedestrian doing it. She didn’t look strained. But the next meet is entirely different.”
Summit is led by Max, freshman Teaghan Knox and juniors Kelsey Gripekoven and Isabell Max. Gripekoven transferred from Jesuit, where she finished fifth in last year’s state meet.
Fiona Max, the 5A runner-up in her first cross country season last year, has made big strides.
“Sometimes it’s just convincing her that she can do it,” McLatchie said. “She’s becoming more confident. And also she’s learning that there are different strategies. She’s tried it all this season.”
Jesuit’s lineup features Schumacher, freshman Chloe Foerster, senior Elizabeth Rinck and junior Alexis Kebbe. In last year’s state meet, Kebbe was third and Rinck 13th.
In comparing the teams, Rothenberger said “we match up pretty close. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
The Crusaders have provided a barometer for Summit over the years. McLatchie said the team was “really pumped” in 2016 when it won its ninth consecutive title, matching Jesuit’s record. Now the Storm will finally get a chance to go head-to-head with the Crusaders on the biggest stage.
“We just want to let everybody know we belong,” said Jim McLatchie, who co-coaches the team with Carol McLatchie.
A look at the state meets, set for Saturday at Lane:
Teams to watch: Summit, Jesuit, St. Mary’s Academy
Individual top times: Makenna Schumacher, Jesuit, 17:12.3; Kyla Becker, Lincoln, 17:24.4; Fiona Max, Summit, 17:28.6
2017 team scores: Jesuit 47, Sunset 85, St. Mary’s Academy 140
Top returning finishers: 1. Schumacher; 3. Alexis Kebbe, Jesuit
Note: Jesuit has won 13 state titles, including the last two, but will get a challenge from Summit, which won 10 consecutive 5A titles before moving up this season.
Teams to watch: Hood River Valley, Wilsonville, Crater
Individual top times: Frances Dickinson, Hood River Valley, 18:07.4; Samantha Prusse, Wilsonville, 18:28.5; Sophie Fisher, Crescent Valley 18:31.9
2017 team scores: Summit 15, Hood River Valley 84, Crater 93
Top returning finishers: 10. Dickinson; 11. Josephine Dickinson, Hood River Valley
Note: Hood River Valley has six runners ranked among the top 19, including the Dickinson twins, who came over from the lacrosse team last season.
Teams to watch: Marist Catholic, Tillamook, Siuslaw
Individual top times: McKenna Priske, Marist Catholic, 18:06.7; Solace Bergeron, Tillamook, 18:07.2; Hannah Hernandez, Philomath, 18:17.9
2017 team scores: Tillamook 37, Scappoose 108, La Grande 111
Top returning finishers: 1. Bergeron; 3. Jazmin Chavez, Marshfield
Note: Priske joined the cross country team this season after a freak finger injury ended her volleyball career. Bergeron beat Priske by 11 seconds in the Meriwether National Classic on Sept. 21.
Teams to watch: Enterprise, Oregon Episcopal, Catlin Gabel
Individual top times: Stephanie Finley, Oregon Episcopal, 18:39.6; Lila Fenner, Catlin Gabel, 18:47.0; Alejandra Lopez, Kennedy, 18:47.6
2017 team scores: Enterprise 63, Union 88, Oregon Episcopal 90
Top returning finishers: 4. Fenner; 5. Lopez
Note: Oregon Episcopal beat Catlin Gabel 37-39 for Special District 1 title. Fenner defeated runner-up Finley by 41 seconds.
Teams to watch: Franklin, Jesuit, Sunset
Individual top times: Zane Fodge, McMinnville, 15:16.2; Quincy Norman, Forest Grove, 15:17.3; Ethan Reese, Sunset, 15:18.7
2017 team scores: Jesuit 35, Central Catholic 127, Franklin 129
Top returning finishers: 2. Fodge; 3. Norman
Note: Franklin has never won a state title. The school's last championship in any sport came in 1959 (boys basketball). ... Fodge beat Norman by 1.6 seconds at the Meriwether National Classic on Sept. 21, by one second in the Flat & Fast Invitational on Oct. 5 and by 25 seconds in the Pacific Conference district meet Oct. 24.
Teams to watch: Crater, Ashland, The Dalles
Individual top times: Evan Holland, Ashland, 14:53.2; Ahmed Ibrahim, Parkrose, 15:17.2; Arlo Davis, Ashland, 15:24.1
2017 team scores: Crater 32, Ashland 83, Marist Catholic 120
Top returning finishers: 2. Holland; 4. Jantz Tostenson, Crater
Note: Holland’s best time, recorded Oct. 13, is No. 18 in the nation this season. He won the 1,500 and 3,000 in the state track meet as a sophomore.
Teams to watch: Marist Catholic, Tillamook, Newport
Individual top times: Jimmy Talley, Cottage Grove, 15:50.1; Matthew Frazeur, Stayton, 15:52.3; Ben Kirby, Stayton, 15:56.5
2017 team scores: Crook County 80, Stayton 96, Newport 119
Top returning finishers: 4. Frazeur; 7. Kolby Spink, Newport
Note: Marist Catholic dropped down from 5A, where it finished third last year. Frazeur beat Kirby by four seconds at the Oregon West Conference district meet.
Teams to watch: Enterprise, Burns, Catlin Gabel
Individual top times: Henry Coughlan, Enterprise, 16:10.0; Zac Knapp, Enterprise, 16:22.5; Emmett Klus, Burns, 16:41.2
2017 team scores: Union 42, Bandon 124, Lakeview 129
Top returning finishers: (3A/2A/1A meet) 5. Klus; 18. Will Leonard, Catlin Gabel
Note: Coughlan and Knapp are freshmen. Coughlan beat Klus by 18 seconds to win the Special District 3 meet as Enterprise outpointed Burns 36-39 for the title.
Teams to watch: Union / Cove, East Linn Christian, Heppner / Ione
Individual top times: Tim Stevens, Union / Cove, 15:08.6; Jedaiah Wasson, East Linn Christian, 15:43.0; Hunter Nichols, Heppner, 15:52.3
2017 team scores: Competed in 3A/2A/1A
Top returning finishers: (3A/2A/1A meet) 2. Stevens; 4. Wasson
Note: Union has won five of the last 11 titles in the small-school division. Stevens has the No. 2 time in the state for all classifications.