Cross country: Kennedy's Alejandra Lopez wins district title
In a result that is becoming almost as predictable as the fall rains in the Willamette Valley, the Kennedy girls cross country team is once again celebrating another district champion.
After finishing runner up in the district qualifier to teammate Kaylin Cantu for the past three seasons, Kennedy senior Alejandra Lopez was finally able to add the elusive championship medal to her resume — becoming the eighth straight Kennedy runner to win the district race on Thursday at the 3A/2A/1A Special District 2 Championship in Lebanon.
Lopez led the field with a time of 18:52.30, nearly matching her career-best of 18:47.60 set in September and beating rival Jessica Neal of Central Linn by a 17-second margin to pace the Trojan girls team to a narrow first-place finish.
It was close at the top of the district standings, with Kennedy taking first place with 57 points, edging past Neah-Kah-Nie with 60 and Central Linn with 66.
The Trojans were bolstered by Lopez's teammates, who either set personal records of their own or season bests to help the Kennedy girls win their fourth consecutive district title as a team.
Freshman Aleksandra Eyles placed 10th with a time of 21:24.80, taking 36 seconds off her previous best. She was followed by sophomore Cassie Traeger (17th, 22:16.40), senior Clarissa Traeger (22nd, 22:47.00) and junior Whitney Lopez (29th, 23:10.40).
For the boys, junior Luke Hall, sophomore Gianni Velazquez and junior Nick Riedman each finished in the top 15 to lead the Trojans back to the state championship race as a team after missing out last season.
Hall set a new PR to lead the team, finishing ninth with a time of 17:27.30. Velazquez followed, taking off nearly 45 seconds from his previous best with a 13th-place time of 18:11.90. Riedman was just behind in 15th with a season-best time of 18:13.80.
Together, the Kennedy boys team finished third with 75 points behind district champion East Linn Christian (44) and runner up Chemawa (63).
Sophomore Jose Salazar (23rd, 18:26.70) and senior Micah Parker (25th, 18:36.00) rounded out the scorers for the Trojans.
The 2018 3A/2A/1A State Cross Country Championships will be begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.
Woodburn senior Giovanni Bravo will make his third consecutive trip to the State Cross Country Championship after qualifying as an individual at the Oregon West Conference Championship at Lane Community College on Thursday.
The Bulldogs entered the district qualifier with aspirations of advancing to the 4A State Championship race as a team, but were denied after strong showings from league champion Newport (49), runner-up Philomath (70) and third-place Stayton (73).
Woodburn finished fourth overall with 93 points, placing three runners in the top 15. In addition to Bravo, who set a new season-best time with a fifth-place finish in 16:13.50, the Bulldogs were paced by senior Jalen Jones, setting a new personal record with an 11th-place finish in 16:45.80. He was followed by senior teammate Aldo Sanchez in 14th at 17:19.43.
Cesar Torres (29th, 18:22.85) and Riley Menezes (34th, 18:31.11) rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs.
Bravo was one of a handful of contenders looking to bring home a district title, but was surpassed on the course by Stayton teammates Matthew Frazeur and Ben Kirby, both of whom set new personal records by more than 10 seconds by finishing in 15:52.29 and 15:56.49, respectively.
Newport's Kolby Spink (16:04.10) and Sisters' John Peckham (16:05.16) also set big PRs on the day to place above Bravo.
While Bravo's finish was his best of the season and the fourth consecutive race in which he has lowered his time this season, his benchmark continues to be last year's 5A state championship race where he set a PR of 15:53 to place seventh overall.
The 2018 4A State Championship race will be held on Saturday at Lane Community College.
Led by freshman Matthew Petrjanos, the North Marion cross country team finished the fall season on Wednesday at the Tri-Valley League Championships hosted at McIver Park in Estacada.
Petrjanos paced the Huskies with a 13th-place finish in 18:51.26, earning Second Team All-Conference honors and helping the North Marion boys team finish fourth in the overall team standings with 111 points.
He was followed by senior Jesse Agnew, who placed 19th in 19:11.31. Senior Alex Ellington was one of eight Huskies across the program to earn personal records at the race, finishing 23rd in 19:37.57. Teammate Tate Durst (27th, 19:58.17) and Arturo Moreno (29th, 20:12.73) also earned PRs, rounding out the team's top scorers.
For the girls team, freshman Emma Jones led the team in the JV race, placing fourth with a time of 29:14.08.
The St. Paul cross country team will be represented at this week's state championship race after sophomore Broden Lear finished fifth at the district qualifier Thursday in Lebanon.
Lear made the biggest PR-jump of his career at Cheadle Lake Park, shaving almost 40 seconds off his previous best with a time of 17:14.00 to earn First Team All-Conference honors and punch his ticket to state as an individual.
Lear was one of three St. Paul boys to finish with PRs on the day, joined by teammates Gianni Grasso (35th, 19:18.00) and Josh Hershberger (89th, 23:32.50).
On the girls side, the Buckaroos were unable to make it back to the state race after qualifying in 2017, finishing fifth overall in the team standings.
Senior Rachel Vela led the team, finishing with a season-best time of 23:03.90 to place 25th. She was followed by junior Jackie Diaz in 41st (24:14.50) and senior Taysha Veeman in 43rd (24:32.40). Diaz set a new PR, taking 11 seconds off her previous best set the week prior, while Veeman's time was the best she had put up this season.
Junior Stephanie Morales (56th, 25:26.50) and sophomore Mayra Lozano (69th, 26:11.10) — each of whom earned PRs of their own — rounded out the rest of the scorers for St. Paul.
The 2018 2A/1A Boys Cross Country State Championship race will be held at 10:35 a.m. Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.