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1A cross-country round-up: Veritas the smallest school competing at the state meet

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Veritas senior Cam McChesney turned a time of 16:06 to finish third in the 3!/2A/1A state meet on Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

The Veritas cross-country team had a historic day at the 3A/2A/1A state meet, setting nine personal records and bringing home some individual hardware.

Senior Cam McChesney led the boys with a third-place finish, posting a personal record time of 16:06. It was McChesney's highest finish at state over the course of his decorated career, during which he amassed three medals at state competition.

Sophomore Breanna Schmitt had the best finish for the girls, placing 13th in a personal record time of 20:06. Schmitt's time bested her previous PR by 20 seconds and was a resilient performance all around, according to Vanguard coach Ken McChesney.INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Veritas sophomore Breanna Schmidt (No. 78) placed 13th in a personal record time of 20:06 at the 2A/1A cross-country state championships Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

"Both Cam and Breanna have amazing stories because both did this battling injuries up to the day before the meet," McChesney said. "Cam had a flareup of the hamstring injury that had sidelined him in October the day before the meet. Breanna runs so intelligently that it is easy to forget that she is a sophomore who has been running for a little over a year."

The Veritas boys finished seventh as a team with 158 points. St. Stephen's Academy finished first with 42 points, trailed by second-place Union (89) and third-place Bandon (95).

Trailing McChesney among his teammates were sophomore Xander Aguilar (17:49) in 33rd place, senior Nic Ereminas (18:01) in 40th, senior Will Lattus (18:15) in 44th, freshman Paul Lattus (19:37) in 63rd, sophomore Eli Fitch (20:20) in 67th and junior Ransom Smith (21:02) in 69th.

Behind Schmitt for the girls, who finished ninth as a team, was twin sisters Sydney and Natalie Olander, who finished 45th and 46th, respectively, with times of 22:28 and 22:34. Sophomore Grace Wassei finished 56th in 23:41, junior Annie Winikka finished 63rd in 24:20 and senior Teresa Figueroa finished 85th in 29:58.

Coach McChesney expressed his pride in how this year's Vanguard team handled itself on the running paths. With plenty of talent returning next year, he hopes to see steady improvement from this group.

"There are a lot of stories on this team," McChesney said. "I have never been blessed to have kids who faced adversity and persevere, putting team ahead of themselves as much as these kids did. We defined this as the most improbable season. They represented Veritas, small schools, long distance running and the community of Newberg very well."

Lear finishes 12th for St. Paul

St. Paul junior Broden Lear entered the season looking to earn a top-10 podium finish at the state cross country race on Saturday. But despite a nearly 40-second improvement over last year's 12th-place finish at the state meet, Lear was once again on the outside looking in.INDEPENDENT PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul's Broden Lear finished 12th in the 2A/1A division at the state cross-country championships on Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Lear turned in a career-best performance at the 2A/1A state championships at Lane Community College, posting a personal-record time of 16:49.80 for his third consecutive PR to finish the season.

And while his time easily would have put him in the top 10 of the state race a year earlier when he finished in 17:27.00, Lear's time this year landed him 12th again in his second trip to state, a testament to the crowded field of runners in this year's 2A/1A classification.

Lear finished one of the best individual cross-country seasons in recent memory at St. Paul High School.

The junior earned six top-10 finishes this season and placed in the top 20 in all but one race.

After setting his previous PR of 17:14.00 in districts in 2018, Lear eclipsed that mark in the first month of the 2019 season, finishing in 17:10.50 at the Champs Invite in Lebanon on Sept. 20.

Lear went on to beat that mark three more times, finishing with his first career sub-17-minute time at Creekside Golf Club in Salem with a mark of 16:57.00 on Oct. 23.

A week later, he shaved four more seconds off that finish for a third-place performance at the district meet, leading to another four second improvement at the state race on Saturday.

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