West Linn's McElroy finishes fall season on the run
West Linn's Kenney McElroy was a leader for the Lion boys cross country team all year long.
He ran fast in non-league meets, he ran fast in the Three Rivers League, and he ran fast at district and state.
So what did McElroy do? He decided to just keep running.
He finished his senior cross country season with two more high-profile meets, running in the NXR Northwest Regional Championships and Nike BorderClash.
"Last season, I remember John Wetzsteon qualifying for BorderClash and I remember watching him race and I thought that it would be a really special experience if I could qualify in my senior year," McElroy said. "So I decided to make my 2018 season goal to get top 15 at state and qualify for BorderClash."
None of his success surprised McElroy's high school coach Jay Schrotzberger.
"Over the course of this cross country season, he gained more and more confidence in his abilities and his fitness," Schrotzberger said. "He gradually built up enough belief that he began to see himself as a potential challenger for the district championship."
In the NXR Northwest Regional Championships — held Nov. 10 at Eagle Island Park outside Boise, Idaho — McElroy ran to 10th place overall in a field of 711 finishers. McElroy posted a finishing time of 16 minutes, 30.20 seconds and trailed event-winner Jonas Bears' winning time of 16:07.80 by just 22.40.
Further, his efforts helped West Linn's Mean Green XC team place fifth in a field of 84 teams. Mean Green closed the meet with 324 points while meet-winner Glacier Peak Running Club won the event with 222.
Other Mean Green top-five finishers included: John Wetzsteon (24th at 16:42.20), Avery Cook (96th at 17:09.60), Graham Yotsuya (135th at 17:21.10) and Sam Bennett (149th at 17:26.10).
One week later, in the Nov. 17 Nike BorderClash — an Oregon vs. Washington high school all-star meet held at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton — McElroy placed 42nd overall with a finishing time of 16:44.60.
"Qualifying for BorderClash felt really good because I had been aiming to do it since the beginning of the season," McElroy said. "It was an honor and a humbling experience because of how talented the runners on the Oregon and Washington teams were."
McElroy was the 14th-fastest finisher for the 38-person Oregon team, which dropped a 25-35 decision to Washington in the team scoring.
"The Nike headquarters is a very impressive facility and it was inspiring to run there," McElroy said. "I will never forget how intense it was when the cannon went off and we all ran straight at the Washington team before merging in the middle at high speed."
Despite their loss in the team battle, Evan Holland of Ashland and Tim Stevens of Union went 1-2 for Oregon in the meet with respective times of 15:34.50 and 15:52.40.
During his high school season, McElroy was West Linn's best, posting the second-fastest time among Three Rivers League runners all year (his 15:43.5 at the Warner Pacific XC Classic on Oct. 13), finishing second in three different meets (including his runner-up finish at 15:59.1 in the TRL District meet at Clackamas Community College on Oct. 24) and taking 14th with a time of 15:55.0 in the Class 6A state championship meet at Lane Community College on Nov. 3.