The team must band together to ease the side effects from the loss of perennial state contender Taryn Rawlings.

Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Chloe Thompson running during a meet last year.

The Wilsonville girls lost a three-time district champion and one of the most decorated runners in Wilsonville history. Because Taryn Rawlings, who finished seventh in state in 2013, sixth in state in 2012 and 10th in 2011, will not be lining up for the Wildcats this year, cross country coach David Barkley says other girls must make up for her vacancy.

“We can be a better team this year. Everybody knows they all have to run well and not just depend on one star to do the work for them,” Barkley said.

Last year, the Wildcat girls matched the boys, earning a 10th place finish in state. This year, Barkley wants to make the state championships yet again.

“If this group keeps training as hard as they have since July, they have a good chance of being one of the state qualifying teams in November,” he said.

To do so, they will rely upon Haley Prusse, who finished fifth in districts last year, and Emily Gillett, who finished 10th at districts.

“Haley and Emily were this year’s summer leaders. Both were all-district last year and have spent the summer pushing each other through a lot of difficult runs,” Barkley said.

He says Gillett and Prusse, as well as Dominique Holman, Brianna Fernandez and Lauren Burns have made significant strides since last season. In addition, he said, junior Sara Kim and senior Chloe Tomlinson will figure into the varsity equation this year.

“We have about a dozen girls who will likely run varsity races this year,” Barkley said.

And that group may include a few freshmen.

“We'll let their times talk for them once they start racing,” he said.

Barkley also expects Toni Gowen, who finished 15th at districts last year, to make a push toward the top of the conference. Gowen has been nursing a nagging hip flexor injury all summer, but has worked very hard to get ready for the season.

“She spent countless hours running in the pool, doing personal training and other strength work,” Barkley said.

Barkley says the team’s greatest competition will come from the 2013 Northwest Oregon Conference champion Sandy Pioneers, La Salle, a first year 5A school, and Liberty.

The team will participate in the Night Meet on August 25 and the Ultimate Race XC Invitational on September 6. Then on September 10, they will compete in the Northwest Oregon Conference Preview meet.

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