Canby girls cross country team places third in TRL
OREGON CITY — Izabela Kacalek punched her ticket first.
Then 15 seconds later, came teammate Jennifer Torres.
And the news just kept getting better and better for Canby's cross country team Wednesday at Clackamas Community College.
By the end of the Three Rivers League district meet, nine Cougars had qualified for next Saturday's Class 6A cross country state meet.
"I felt real good coming into the meet, just because the process all year has been real good," Canby coach Tom Millbrooke said. "The kids have worked real hard and gotten better. It's been a very successful year. Our kids ran great and they ran to their potential today."
Kacalek and Torres both ran personal best times.
Kacalek finished third in 18 minutes, 35.3 seconds.
"Anytime I can PR, I'm really happy with that," Kacalek said. "It was a hard race, but I'm really happy with how it went."
Torres placed fourth in 18:50.3.
"I tried my best to stick with Izzy, but she just went off," Torres said. "In the back was a big gap, so I was kind of sad that I didn't have someone pushing me, so I could go a little bit faster."
Noelani Hernandez, a junior in her first season running cross country, also PR'd in 20:31.9 to take 17th.
Seniors Kahleia Rose (21:15.5) and Emma Ulven (21:40) finished 34th and 40th, respectively, as the Canby girls edged St. Mary's Academy by five points to place third in the team standings and qualify for state.
Rose PR'd by more than 17 seconds, while Ulven was only two seconds off her PR.
"We sort of got a little icing on the cake with the girls qualifying for state with a great performance," Millbrooke said. "We really stepped up. The senior girls have just gotten better every year."
West Linn's girls won the team title, squeaking by second place Tualatin by two points.
Tualatin's Kaitlyn Gearin won the varsity girls race in 18:13.4. St. Mary's Academy's Fiona Lenth took second in 18:22.8.
Sophomore Tommy O'Neil was the first Canby boy to qualify for state. After finishing 34th in 18:07.1 at the TRL Preview meet on Sept. 11, O'Neil improved to fifth in 16:44.1 at Wednesday's district meet.
"I just hadn't hit my full potential yet," O'Neil said. "I didn't want to let my team down. I left it all out there."
O'Neil said he could hear steps behind him as he entered the final stretch of the race.
"I heard pitter-patter and I knew I had to go or I wouldn't make it to state," he said. "It's amazing. We've put so much effort into workouts and it's paid off."
O'Neil had improved in about every race so far this season, including nearly running under 17 minutes the week before at the Creekside Cross Classic in Salem.
"He's sort of showed glimpses, but I think it's the first time all year that he's ran a complete race," Millbrooke said.
In his final shot, Canby senior Matthew Powell also qualified for the state meet, finishing seventh in 16:46.1.
Canby's boys placed fourth behind the TRL's three state qualifiers Tualatin, Oregon City and West Linn.
Tualatin's Andrew Payton won the varsity boys race in 16:00.4.
"It's very rewarding to have the kids work hard and benefit from that and show the improvement," Millbrooke said.
Kacalek returns to state for the third straight year.
She finished 21st in 18:37 last season.
"I'm so stoked. I'm really happy to do it again," Kacalek said. "I PR'd there last year and I'm hoping I can do it again this year. I try to do my best every race."
The state meet, held at Lane Community College in Eugene, will be a completely new experience for Canby's other eight athletes.
"I'm so excited," Torres said. "It's already insane that I'm going. I'm just going to do my best."
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