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Samantha Prusse leads the Wildcats after winning a state title in the 1500 last spring

PMG FILE PHOTO - Wilsonville senior Samantha Prusse will lead the girls cross country team again this season.

Wilsonville's girls have won three straight district cross country titles, and coach David Barkley expects the Wildcats to again be the favorites in the Northwest Oregon Conference this season.

Senior Samantha Prusse, the two-time defending district cross country champion, and Class 5A state champ in the 1,500 on the track last spring, will again lead Wilsonville.

"She's got all the expectations and then some," Barkley said of Prusse, who finished sixth at the 5A cross country meet last season.

Another Prusse, Samantha's younger sister, Gabriella, also returns after placing fourth in the NWOC and 13th at the state meet last year as a freshman.

"Gabby is still pretty young," Barkley said. "She's been real consistent this summer. She's still working on it, but she has all the talent of her big sister. Just like Sam at that age, there's not a rush. She's definitely ahead of where she was at last year."

Junior Sydney Burns, who also is one of the top basketball players in the state, was seventh in the NWOC in cross country last season and then finished 16th in the state.

"She's going to get all kinds of school attention for running as well as basketball," Barkley said of Burns. "She's an all-around good athlete. She's a competitor, and she knows how to get after it. She knows how to be on a team, and bring kids together, but then when the gun goes off she can take care of business."

Barkley has seen improvement from his daughter, Aurora, a junior who ran with the JV last season.

"She's one of those kids who just figured out she could be good and really turn the corner and contribute and not just be a kid that's out for the team," Barkley said.

Senior Kylee Rusher and sophomore Sarah Somerscales also should contribute to the varsity team, according to Barkley.

Wilsonville's boys will be led by two sophomores and two juniors. But Barkley expects the Wildcats to be even better than last season when they won the NWOC.

"The underclassmen, as long as they all stay healthy, have made huge strides since last year," Barkley said. "A boy from sophomore to junior year, if they really train, can just make gobs of time."

As freshmen, twins Ben and Jacob McClelland finished 11th and 13th at the district meet last season.

"They're super quick and super tough," said Barkley of the McClelland twins. "They were all-league as freshmen and that just doesn't happen very much with boys. Freshmen boys usually take their lumps."

Juniors Ben Sheirbon and Sebastian Pinger also are in the varsity mix.

"As much as this might be a really good year, it should lead to a couple of really competitive years for us," Barkley said. "It's always nice when your fast kids are young."

Wilsonville had 62 runners cleared at the start of cross country practice on Aug. 19 and Barkley expects about 75 once the season begins.

"It's been a pretty consistent summer," Barkley said. "They like to show up. They like to run together and they like to hang out and be silly afterward. This group really gets together and gets along, which has to point to a good year. Nothing bad ever comes out of that."

Derek Wiley
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