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Freshman phenom wins the 800 meters, anchors relay for Crusader girls track team

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit freshman Chloe Foerster won a Class 6A state championship in the 800 meters last weekend.

The crown jewel of the Jesuit girls track and field program is the state championship 4x400 relay team.

Make that squad and you're royalty, a cut above in speed, endurance and mental grit. It's an honor that's held in the highest regard amongst all of the Crusaders, proving you're on an athletic plane all onto your own. Win a Class 6A state championship, however, and you're considered legendary.

For sophomore Molly Grant, senior Greta Anderson, junior Ella Nelson and freshman sensation Chloe Foerster, the 4x400 was their moment to be great and they prevailed, winning the 6A state title (3:50.13) by more than seven seconds over Mountainside at Mt. Hood Community College on May 26.

"This is the prized possession," Anderson said with a smile. " This race is so sought after at Jesuit, so many people want to run it. It shows that you've made it. It's about who wants it the most. It's all a collective goal. Everyone wanted to work really hard to make this a great end to the season and I'm really grateful for that. We wanted to do it for the team overall and finish it off."

The quartet missed the state record by mere milliseconds, but set a new personal record by more than two seconds and broke the school record. Considering the less than ideal weather and that three of the Crusaders competed in an individual race prior to the relay, it was a gritty, gutty and ultimately triumphant effort.

"I just wanted to give my all to my team," Foerster said. "The team is the best part, seeing everyone put in the work, pick up points in any way they could."

Competing at less than full strength without the services of defending 3,000-meter state champion Makenna Schumacher, sophomore star Paige Grant or Hallie DeVore, Jesuit still took second place as a team with 52 points just behind South Eugene's state-winning 55. Anderson placed fourth in the 400. Junior Alexis Kebbe was sixth in the 3,000 and 11th in the 1,500. Senior Eva van Hameren took sixth in the 300 hurdles, senior Jordyn Turner was fourth in the shot put and senior Sara Sanders took fourth in the javelin. Jesuit senior Grace White tied for ninth in the pole vault and senior Aubrey Hoppes was 12th in the triple jump.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Greta Anderson placed fourth in the 400 meters and ran a leg on the 4x400 relay.

Foerster is the next freshman phenom who gave the cross country team a kick in the fall and flourished on the track this spring. With a driving rain pelting the MHCC track and chilly temperatures taking over the Eastside, Foerster won her first ever state title, winning the 800 meters in 2:09.52, a new personal record.

"That's crazy for a freshman," Anderson said. "She works so hard and put in the best effort she could. Even though she's three years younger than me, she drives me to do better every day just because she has such a positive attitude. We've become really close throughout the year and pushed each other until the end."

The baby-faced freshman runs with a boldness that belies her age, a distance runner who competes and beats fleet-footed sprinters. Foerster finished a second ahead of Grant, who was the event's runner-up.

"Winning state has been a dream of mine forever," Forester said with a smile. "The crowd was amazing. It was probably the biggest crowd I've heard. Just seeing that finish line is so great, knowing you're that close to being done."

She also ran the anchor leg of the long relay, taking the cushion Grant gave her and extending it over the final 400 meters of the race. Foerster and Grant were frequent workout partners throughout the season and strategized together during races to acquire peak performance.

"Training with these girls at Jesuit is amazing, they work so hard," Foerster said. "They help push me every single day. And just to be able to have the positive support when you go to stressful races is awesome. It's worked out really well with my team and been a great season."

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