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Lions junior Waylon Nichols also earns trip to Nov. 3 Class 5A race at Lane Community College

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTOS: JIM BESEDA - St. Helens' Waylon Nichols ran second in the early stages of Wednesday's district race at Blue Lake Park.FAIRVIEW — The Scappoose boys and St. Helens girls cross-country teams are heading to the state championships.

Both squads qualified for the Nov. 3 Class 5A meet in an extremely close Northwest Oregon Conference district meet on Wednesday at Blue Lake Park in Fairview.

The top three boys and girls teams earned berths to the annual Oregon School Activities Association state meet at Lane Community College in Eugene.

The Scappoose boys took third, one point ahead of fourth-place La Salle Prep.

The St. Helens girls were third, three points in front of fourth-place La Salle Prep.

Wilsonville handily won both NWOC titles, but after that it was a wild scramble.

In the boys standings, Parkrose was second with 84 points, followed by Scappoose with 85 and La Salle Prep with 87. St. Helens scored 107 points for fifth out of eight teams.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Wilsonville's Gabriella Prusse (left) and St. Helens' Mackenzie Trainer wage a battle for fourth place near the midway point of Wednesday's Northwest Oregon Conference cross-country championships at Blue Lake Park.

In the girls standings, Putnam finished second with 72 points, followed by St. Helens with 74 and La Salle Prep with 77. Scappoose was fourth with 115, and Hillsboro took the sixth and final spot with 162.

Also advancing to state was St. Helens' Waylon Nichols, who qualified as an individual. Anyone finishing in the top five who was not part of an advancing team got a ticket to the 5A meet, and Nichols placed third in 16 minutes, 29.33 seconds.

Scappoose's top boys placed sixth and seventh, with freshman Rowen Suchoski leading the team with a clocking of 16:42.07, just ahead of his brother, freshman Luke Suchoski (16:48.78).

The St. Helens girls also had high finishers cross the line back-to-back, with Mackenzie Trainer fifth in 19:43.94, and Hannah Hayduk sixth in 19:57.92.

Scappoose had one girl in the top 10, as Sydney Hanke took 10th place in 20:12.61.

• Nichols changed his game plan for Wednesday's race.

"Usually, I'll go out and try to stay with the first-place runner, but I decided to slow it down a little bit and maybe stay with the second pack because, compared to those guys, our best times coming in were only separated by a few seconds," Nichols said. "So there were three or four of us who just stayed together, and I think it worked really well. I started off kind of slower than I usually do and then just built up."

He said he "felt great" coming home, although he added, "I wanted to die, but I just kept going and finished strong."

Nichols, who has doubled all season in soccer, sat out the Lions' season finale on the pitch on Tuesday.

"I talked it over with my coaches and decided not to play just so I wouldn't hurt myself," he said. "The game was against Scappoose, so there's probably a good chance somebody was going to get hurt, you know? Honestly, that's how rivalries go, you know? I decided to play it safe for this one."

• St. Helens coach Naomi Reedy said "things worked out the way we had planned" when the girls made it to state. "We knew we had a shot at the top three," Reedy said.

The Lions' fifth and final scorer, Mattie Miller, helped get her group over the top, finishing 33rd in 23:38.00 — a PR by more than a minute and a half.

Another key was the No. 4 St. Helens runner, Kaitlyn Silva, who was 18th — four places ahead of La Salle Prep's No. 4.

The Lions' No. 1, Trainer, said the girls "were determined to get third. We wanted to make it to state, and that's what we did. We're very excited."

She ran a PR, as well, taking three seconds off her previous best, set at state two years ago, and finishing in 19:43.94.

"I feel like I could have gone faster," she said. "At state, I really want to PR again."PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Scappoose's Rowen Suchoski (left) and Luke Suchoski  finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in 16:42.1 and 16:48.8.

  • PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - From left, La Salle Prep's Erin McGinnis, St. Helens' Cheyenne Trainer, Putnam's Madeline Gable, Scappoose's Sydney Hanke and St. Helens' Hannah Hayduk press one another during the second mile of Wednesday's 3.1-mile race at Blue Lake Park.

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