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Fall sports preview 2013: Wilsonville girls cross country

Taryn Rawlings vying for fourth top-10 state finish


by: GREG ARTMAN / FILE - Taryn Rawlings, who has won three state titles in track and field, enters her final season with the Wilsonville girls cross country team.Wilsonville coach David Barkley knows Taryn Rawlings has a kick — he’s seen her surge past opposing runners to win three state championships in her standout prep career.

Of course, Barkley also knows that the incoming senior’s Class 5A titles have not come during the fall cross country season. They’ve come in track.

“She is an excellent middle-distance runner who is trying to learn how to be close to the distance runners when the last minute of the race comes around,” Barkley said.

For Rawlings, that learning process will be crucial as she leads the Wildcats girls into their 2013 campaign.

She is in the hunt for her fourth-straight top-10 finish at the state cross country championships, where she placed sixth last year. She was the runner-up as a freshman and 10th as a sophomore.

Rawlings will also be vying for a second-consecutive Northwest Oregon Conference title and her third in four years. She won it last year with a season-best time of 18 minutes 47.5 seconds — her fastest mark since clocking a personal-best 18:35.1 as a freshman in 2010.

Barkley said he’ll work with Rawlings on her strength throughout the upcoming season as she prepares for the postseason. Just two of the five runners who finished ahead of her at last year’s state finals were seniors.

“Taryn is improving pretty rapidly right now,” Barkley said, “and that is the always the goal.”

It seems the goal for Wilsonville, meanwhile, is to rebound from a heartbreaking finish to the 2012 season. The squad came in third place behind Sherwood and Liberty at the NWOC championships, missing out on a team berth to the state meet by one point.

Joining Rawlings in the Wildcats’ quest for redemption are returning juniors Toni Gowen and Chloe Tomlinson. Gowen clocked a career-best 20:23.1 to place ninth at last year’s district meet, while Tomlinson enters the season on the heels of logging a personal-record 21:24.9 at the NWOC finals.

Many of Barkley’s athletes trained during the offseason.

“A lot of new and returning runners have put in time on the roads this summer,” Barkley said. “It will be interesting to see how the season goes. If things go well, we will look good in the last two or three weeks of season.”

For Wilsonville, looking good will likely mean staying within striking distance of defending league champion Sherwood. Barkley said the Bowmen boast ample depth this season.

“Their top 5 girls can really roll and are very fit right now,” he said. “We are a step behind but improving steadily. We have a dragon slayer up front, and we have about seven other girls who could be top-five on a really good team if they stay healthy and focused.”

AT A GLANCE

WILSONVILLE GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY 2013

Coach: David Barkley (13th year)

Last year: Placed third at the district championships, missing out on a team berth to the Class 5A finals by one point

Key runners: Taryn Rawlings, Toni Gowen, Chloe Tomlinson

Key losses: Kayla Wilson-Betts, Kelsey Underwood

Outlook: Led by two-time district champion Taryn Rawlings, the Wildcats seek redemption after missing out on a state berth by one point last year.

First league meet: 4 p.m. Sept. 11 at Blue Lake Park (Fairview)

SCHEDULE

9/7       Ultimook invite *        2 p.m.

9/11     NWOC preview #      4 p.m.

9/21     Fort Steilacoom ^      10 a.m.

9/25     Liberty meet              4 p.m.

10/2     Star City Classic >     4 p.m.

10/11   Sandelie Classic +     2:30 p.m.

10/23   NWOC districts #       3 p.m.

11/2     State finals <              TBD

* at Hydrangea Ranch (Tillamook)

# at Blue Lake Park (Fairview)

^ in Lakewood, Wash.

> at Bush Park (Salem)

+ at Sandelie Golf Course

< at Lane Community College (Eugene)



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