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Crook County edges Hood River Valley by a point for final Intermountain Conference state berth

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Crook County High School boys cross country team heads to the OSAA Class 5A State Cross Country Championships this Saturday. The Cowboys, who were second a year ago, look to earn another state trophy. Team members are left to right: Alex Carne, Cade Catterson, Alex Vail, Zach Mauras, Van Williams, Tucker Bonner, Steven Ware and alternate Austin Strong. The state meet will be held at Lane Community College in Eugene with races starting at 10 a.m. and the 5A boys race starting at 2:20 p.m. (All photos by Lon Austin, except for Steven Ware, courtesy of Crook County Cross Country team)After winning the Class 4A state cross country championships two years ago and taking second in the Class 5A meet a year ago, the Crook County Cowboys are back in the state meet.

The Cowboys finished second in a hotly contested Intermountain Conference Championship.

The host The Dalles Riverhawks took first in the IMC with 42 points, while the Cowboys were four points behind with 46 and the Hood River Valley Eagles finished third with 47 points.

Just two teams from the IMC qualify for the state meet, so No. 4 ranked Hood River Valley does not get to compete.

To add insult to injury for the Eagles they did not qualify a single runner for the state meet despite entering the meet with the three fastest times in the league.

The Cowboys were led by junior Alec Carne, who won the district meet with a time of 16:41.22. Senior Cade Catterson finished third with a time of 16:49.98. Next in for the Cowboys was junior Alex Vail, who finished 11th with a time of 17:25.70. He was followed by senior Zach Mauras, 15th in 18:14.52, sophomore Van Williams, 16th with a time of 18:16.99, junior Xavier Layne, 33rd in 20:29.17 and senior Austin Strong, 34th with a time of 20:38.77.

However, neither Layne nor Strong will compete in the state meet as JV runners Tucker Bonner, a sophomore, and Steven Ware, a junior, ran faster times at district, finishing in 19:42.90 and 20:18.90, respectively. Strong will still attend the meet with Crook County as their alternate, should anyone get hurt or sick prior to the start of the meet.

Ashland is the overwhelming favorite to win the state meet. The Grizzlies are led by Evan Holland, a senior, who won the state meet a year ago has committed to run at University of Oregon and has a state best time this season of 14:51.7. Holland has only run three races this year as the senior announced prior to the start of the year that he would be training through the high school season in a quest to win the national age group championship later this fall. He is currently ranked 24th in the country, however, the runners ranked ahead of him have all raced more this season, and most set their fast times in their respective state meets.

Ahmed Ibraham of Parkrose is close behind with a season best time of 15:05.

However, Ibraham does not have much surrounding him, while Holland is surrounded by several other fast athletes. Reed Pryor enters state with the third best time, while Arlo Davis is ranked fourth, and Cameron Stein seventh. The Grizzlies' only weakness is that their fifth runner is less competitive.

Other teams to watch for include the defending champion Crater Comets who are ranked second in the coaches poll and are projected to finish third in a hypothetical meet according to, which tracks all cross country races throughout the year.

Crescent Valley is second according to and third in the coaches poll, while The Dalles is fourth according to and sixth in the coaches poll.

Other teams to watch for are Wilsonville, Dallas, Silverton and Scappoose.

Although the Cowboys have a recent history of earning trophies at the state meet they are a bit of a long shot this year. The team is ranked eighth in the final coaches poll of the season and is just ninth according to

Just two Cowboys are ranked in the top 40 in the state. Carne is currently ranked 24th with a best time of 16:27.6, while Catterson is ranked 26th with a season best time of 16:38.1. However, the Cowboys have a history of coming on strong late in the year. This is three years in a row that the team has qualified for the state meet after entering district ranked third or lower. In addition, the team is known to group runners close together, something that often helps teams place high in big meets.

The state meet is held at Lane Community College in Eugene.

The Class 5A boys state meet is scheduled to start at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, however, there is racing all day. Racing starts at 10 a.m. With the 3A/2A/1A girls race. The 3A/2A/1A boys race will begin at 11:10 a.m., followed by 4A girls, 11:45, 4A boys, 12:20, and 5A girls, 1:45.

The day closes with the 6A boys race at 3:30 p.m.

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