Nearly 2,000 runners from 46 high schools will open cross country season this Friday at the annual Wilsonville Night Meet.
"It's as large as we can host at our facility," said Wilsonville coach David Barkley, noting he had to turn down about two dozen schools. "For the most part, if you're not in by April, you're not getting in. As soon as we put it up, it's filled within a week."
Many of the top teams in the state are participating in the 3K, including last year's Class 6A boys champion, Central Catholic, and 5A girls champion, Hood River Valley.
"For a lot of the divisions, the competition is as good or better than the (OSAA) state meet," Barkley said. "But it's early season, so everyone shouldn't be super sharp yet. The team list is pretty darn good. It's pretty stacked."
Runners are split up by grade level. There also are girls and boys open and novice divisions.
The meet, in its 12th year, begins at 6 p.m. on the Wilsonville track with races about every 20 minutes.
The 3K, instead of the usual 5K, allows runners to ease into the season.
"It lets your new kids actually race instead of survive," Barkley said. "Some of those kids, their first few 5Ks, they're just trying to get from the beginning to the end, and it's not really racing. It (3K) lets almost all the kids actually race instead of try not to walk. It's an easy intro distance."
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