The Wilsonville cross country teams are ready to start their season. When they begin the season, they will do so with a strong core of varsity athletes. Among those athletes will be returning sophomore Samantha Prusse, who placed 20th in the state championships last year. Other returning varsity runners will include junior Angel Bohn, sophomore Kylee Rusher, and junior Kate Stewart, all of whom competed at the state championships last year.
Coach David Barkley praised the work ethic of his varsity athletes, praising the 10 runners.
"They all work hard, they all run fast," Barkley said. "This is a very good group athletes."
On the boys side, senior Nicholas Whitaker, sophomore Vincent Nguyen, and junior Jack Burns will also be making a return to the team. Barkley said that the boys team is led by senior Hyrum Worth, and that the fastest athletes on the team are Whitaker and senior Jonathan Palmer. Both Whitaker and Palmer competed in last year's state championship, with Whitaker taking 15th.
Looking into the future, Barkley sees several of his runners making a bid for the championship, on both the boys and the girls teams.
"We have four or five girls who have a shot for the league title," Barkley said. "Sam Prusse and Krista Herlin have the early edge as far as our team goes, but the rest of the varsity girls are only a half step behind. It is a great group of teammates. They push each other on runs, compete on race day, but are still supportive.
"On the guys side, Nick and Jon will both compete for the league title. There are some really good kids from Sandy and La Salle so they will have to be smart about how they balance their efforts this season. The rest of the guys' varsity team should be competing for all-league spots. Our four through seven runners can all be all-league this year," Barkley added.
The Wildcats will face tough opposition this year, particularly from Sandy and La Salle Prep, according to Barkley. On the girls side of things, he foresees the same teams being competitive, as well as Putnam and St. Helens who "have some really good individuals."
To compete with the aforementioned programs, as well competing against the rest of the Northwest Oregon Conference, Barkley believes it is all about dedication and avoiding injuries.
"The juniors who have been flirting with varsity for a few years are going to have to commit to serious relationship with running if the team is going to reach its potential this year," Barkley said. "Our top three guys can compete with any team in 5A, it is just a question of whether our four through seven can as well. On the girls side, we just need to stay healthy and keep dropping a few seconds from their times each week."