Also: Hard work pays dividends for Clackamas girls

OREGON CITY — Two local runners and Clackamas High School’s girls team made some noise at last week’s Three Rivers League District Cross Country VERN UYETAKE - Clackamas freshman Maia Edwards

Clackamas freshman Maia Edwards and Oregon City senior Al Lacey placed well up in the pack in the varsity girls and varsity boys races and qualified for state as individuals.

And Clackamas girls qualified for state as a team, scoring 61 points and finishing runner-up in the TRL to defending Class 6A state champion Grant (29 points). Lakeridge girls scored 79, and placed third.

Grant sophomore Ella Donaghu (18:26.31), who placed fourth at the Class 6A girls state meet a year ago, proved she still has her stuff, pushing herself to an 18:26.31 clocking on Clackamas Community College’s 5,000-meter TRL district meet course, to outclass the field.

It was the second district title for the youthful General, who won the district girls race in 18:38 as a freshman.

Ella’s older sister, senior Piper Donaghu, finished second, in 19:01.08.

Edwards also finished well ahead of the pack, in third place, with a 19:36.75 clocking. She was nearly 30 seconds in front of the girl who finished fourth. Forty-eight runners took part in the varsity girls race.

“I think I did pretty well,” Edwards said. “I gave it all I’ve got, and that’s what matters most.”

Edwards said of the Donaghu sisters: “It’s awesome to see how fast they are. They’re incredible! They’re awesome! I’d like to be like them some day.”

Lacey placed fourth in the varsity boys field and qualified for state as an individual for the second year in a row. He was clocked at 16:37.78, an improvement of 18 seconds over last year, when he placed eighth.

“Al’s had a phenomenal cross country season,” said Oregon City coach Brandon Lee. “His time at [this year’s meet at] Sandelie Golf Course was No. 11 all-time. He’s put in a lot of hard work between track in the spring and this fall. High mileage. And all that hard work has paid off.”

by: VERN UYETAKE - Oregon City senior Al LaceyLacey finished back of West Linn sophomore Roman Ollar (16:15.23), West Linn sophomore Grayson Ollar (16:29.27) and Grant junior Henry Houghton (16:35.44), and just ahead of Lakeridge sophomore Leo Lukens (16:38.33).

“I think I could have done better,” Lacey said, following the race. “I didn’t feel very good when I started the race. And then, when I was running, a whole bunch of negative thoughts were going through my mind. My muscles were aching a little. Maybe it was because I ran on an empty stomach. Maybe the heat got to me a little, but I was well hydrated.... I don’t know what happened, because usually I’m pretty positive when I’m running.”

“I was 43rd at state in 16:57 last year and that was the fastest time and best placement at state for Oregon City in around six years,” said Lacey. “This year I’m shooting for 16:30 and top 18 [at state]. That should get me into the Border Clash, and that’s my goal.”

Grant and West Linn were the top two boys teams, scoring 44 and 50 points respectively.

Grant girls had all five of their scoring runners place in the top 12.

Five underclassmen earned Clackamas girls their team berth at state, placing in the top 21.

Scoring, along with Edwards, were four juniors: Courtney Beard (seventh, 20:25.03), Amber Harvey, (14th, 21:24.63), Sydney Peters, (16th, 21:30.16), and Zoe Clegg, (21st, 21:51.83).

“Hard work and dedication, that’s why these girls are going to state,” Walruff said. “They ran hard last winter and they ran all summer. They were motivated and they worked hard. They wanted to be the first non-Claire [Michel] team to go to state in 20 years.”

Claire Michel starred for Clackamas in distance running from 2003 through 2006, leading four Clackamas girls’ cross country teams to berths at state, winning four TRL individual titles, winning the state meet as a junior, and placing among the top six individuals at state four times. Michel went on to excel at the University of Oregon, where she set a school record for the women’s 5,000-meter steeplechase and placed as high as fifth in the event at the NCAA National Championships.

Walruff noted that his charges had met Lakeridge, which placed third at district, three times this season prior to district and lost to the Pacers all three times.

“These girls were the most focussed [at district] of any team I’ve coached,” Walruff said. “They ran on more than talent. They ran on guts and glory.”

He noted that Clegg was Clackamas’ No. 2 runner two miles into this year’s district meet, when she pulled up with a nagging hip injury.

“She gutted it out and finished the race — in a lot of pain,” Walruff observed.

He also noted that the district meet was only the second meet of the season for Harvey, who has been nursing a knee injury.

“Except for Maia, our girls team was the same girls who finished fifth at district last year,” said Walruff. “Most of them improved their times by two minutes over last year. It was a great group of girls who worked really hard. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Walruff spoke to Edwards’ potential: “She’s going to make a run at Claire Michel’s school record before she’s done here.”

Edwards says she’s been running for as long as she can remember.

Her father, Blair Edwards, says he knew she was going to be a runner when they first signed her up for soccer.

“She’d run around and around the field, without touching the ball,” he recalls. “She’d probably get in five miles in a game.”

He says he’s been a runner all his life but can longer keep up with his daughter on foot, so he rides his bicycle when he accompanies her on training runs.

“I run almost every day, and do the core training on top of that,” Maia said. “I like the thrill of it. The runner’s high is just incredible, even in practices. It’s like no other feeling in the world. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Lacey wasn’t the only Oregon City runner to fare well at the Three Rivers League District Meet. Oregon City junior Miranda Nelson (20:42.21) and Oregon City senior Kaelynn Lowe (20:54.85) placed 10th and 11th respectfully in the varsity girls race. Nelson’s placement gained her the last of four TRL individual berths to the Class 6A state girls meet.

“Those two girls have worked together all season and they’ve posted some fast times,” Lee said. “Miranda was top 10 at district and that’s what she wanted to do from the beginning of the season. Kaelynn this year had the No. 10 all-time time for a senior, and she’s a first-year cross country runner as a senior. They’ve had a great season.”

The Class 6A State Championship Meet is scheduled Saturday at Lane Community College, with the girls running at 2:25 p.m. and the boys competing at 3 p.m.

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