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Cade Catterson and Alec Carne lead team as all five scoring team members finish in a tight pack

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Cade Catterson, #815 in yellow, runs near the front of the pack going up the first hill at the state cross country meet on Saturday. Catterson finished 15th overall to lead the Cowboys to a sixth-place team finish. The Crook County Cowboys failed to earn a trophy at this year's OSAA Class 5A State Cross Country Championships, but the Cowboys still have a lot to be proud of.

"I can't ask for them to do anything but the best that they have, and that's what I was seeing today," said Crook County head coach Orie Gonzales. "I couldn't be happier. We ran season bests at the end, so I'm pretty proud of them."

After placing second a year ago, the Cowboys entered the season hoping to earn another state championship trophy.

The team finished one point ahead of Hood River Valley at the Intermountain Conference Championships to earn a berth into the state championships, which were held Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

The Cowboys survived a tough Intermountain Conference Championship to qualify for the state meet.

Once there, the Cowboys raced to a sixth-place finish in a contest that saw some of the top performances in the history of Oregon Cross Country.

A highly anticipated matchup between two of the top high school distance runners in the country lived up to expectations.

Ahmed Ibrahim of Parkrose and Evan Holland of Ashland led the pack in a torrid pace early in the race.

Ibrahim led for the first three-quarters of a mile before being passed by Holland.

The two runners finished the first mile in 4:36 before Holland started to distance himself from the field.

Holland had a time of just over 9:36 at the 2-mile mark, with Ibrahim falling behind.

When he reached the track for the final 300 meters, Holland was in sight of the OSAA course record for all classifications, a record that had been set by former Summit and University of Oregon runner Matthew Maton.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Alec Carne nears the track at the end of Saturday's state cross country meet. Carne finished in 18th place overall with a personal record time of 16:19.8 as the Cowboys placed sixth as a team.As he neared the finish line, it became obvious that Holland was going to easily beat the course record.

With 50 meters to go, Holland began celebrating, knowing that the course record was going to be his.

Holland crossed the finish line in a time of 14:30.4, crushing the old course record by more than 20 seconds.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim finished a distant second with a time of 15:02.8, still one of the fastest times in course history.

Crook County ran in a tight pack the entire meet, with all five scoring runners finishing within 1:13 of each other.

In addition, five of the Cowboys ran personal record times, while a sixth ran a season best time.

Senior Cade Catterson was Crook County's top finisher, placing 15th with a season best time of 16:19.

"I wanted to run faster, but I'm still satisfied," Catterson said. "I think the team did really good. It seems like everyone was pretty close together, and I'm proud of my team."

Junior Alec Carne, who won the IMC championship race a week earlier, was next in for the Cowboys, placing 18th overall with a personal record time of 16:21.8.

Then came junior Alex Vail, who finished 36th overall with a personal best time of 16:45.6.

"Instead of going out the first mile in 5:07, like I did at district, I actually paced myself," Vail said. "You want to keep passing people. That is the mentality. You want to keep moving forward and passing people because that counts for the team scores, and the people that went out too fast, by the time that they reached the second mile, they were dead."

Senior Zach Mauras also ran a personal best time, placing 42nd overall in 16:56.7.

"This felt way better compared to district," Mauras said. "All I've wanted since my freshman year is to get into the 16s, and I did. It was a good self goal that I reached on the last race possible. We had a lot of good running and a lot of us PR'd (got a personal record). A lot of us ran really well."

Mauras was followed to the finish line by sophomore Van Williams, who finished 63rd with a personal best time of 17:32.1.

"I tried my best and I PR'd by almost 30 seconds," said Williams, who transferred into Crook County from a school in Nevada prior to the start of the school year. "Compared to Nevada, the competition is way better. I have adjusted to it and it has made me faster. The team did great. Everybody picked it up."

Although he did not count in the scoring, Steven Ware also ran a personal record time. The junior, who ran junior varsity at the IMC championships, finished 89th with a time of 19:26.2.

Sophomore Tucker Bonner was the final Crook County runner, placing 93rd with a time of 20:02.2.

Led by Holland, Ashland won the state championship with 41 points.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN -  Van Williams, left, passes a North Bend runner near the end of the race. Williams ran nearly 30 seconds faster than his previous best time as he finished 63rd overall with a time of 17:32.10.Crater, the defending state champions, finished in second with 81 points. They were followed by Crescent Valley, 108, and Wilsonville, 138.

The Intermountain Conference champions from The Dalles just missed out on a trophy, placing fifth with a score of 145.

They were followed by Crook County, 164, Silverton, 188, Dallas, 206, Scappoose, 216, Corvallis, 226, Parkrose, 260, Churchill, 270, and North Bend, 315.

Holland was not the only runner to set a course record on Saturday.

Fiona Max of Class 6A Summit led the Storm to another state championship as she obliterated the old girls state meet record by more than 30 seconds, running away from the field and finishing with a time of 16:51.8.

Lincoln's Kate Peters, 17:01.0, Summit's Teaghan Knox, 17:10.3, and Jesuit's Chloe Foerster, 17:15.2, also broke the previous girls state meet record.

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