Bobcats gear up for state-title run
EUGENE — The Union/Cove cross country team is looking for something special Saturday — a state championship.
The girls team will be looking for a repeat of last years performance that won the title a year ago, with Katriel O’Reilly finishing second overall.
Union is coming off a 24-point victory in the district championships, with Vale grabbing the next team berth in the state meet.
O’Reilly has almost matched her fastest time from last year’s state meet (19:04) in the Oxford Classic meet in Bend earlier this year. She finished fourth in the elite race with a time of 19:04.6 over the Drake Park course.
Since then, she finished second in the Eastern Oregon 2A/1A invitational and third in the Kyle Burnside Wildhorse invitational.
The highest finish the junior has had this season is a pair of fourths — in the Bob Firman and Oxford invitationals.
The other half of the Lady Cats’ one-two punch, McKenzie Evans, finished right behind O’Reilly in last year’s state meet, placing third in 19:47. She will be coming into the state meet of a second-place finish in the district meet (20:04.26).
Sophomore Stormy Bullard was fourth at the district meet for the second year in a row and finished 13th in the state last season. Lynn Shoemaker was ninth in the recent district meet, putting four Lady Cats in the top nine finishers.
At the district meet in Pendleton, Elly Wells ended the Union scoring when she finished 13th in 21:43.01, just ahead of teammates Hannah Brazil (14th, 21:43.43) and freshman Sarah Brazil (15th, 21:50.55).
“Katriel and McKenzie both ran solid races. We put four girls in the top 10,” Union/Cove coach Steve Sheehy said. “Our 5-6-7 runners (Elly, Hannah and Sarah) all ran solid races. They sealed the district championship for us.
“This was Katriel’s third individual district title. She won in her freshman and sophomore years also,” the coach added. McKenzie finished second for the second straight year and Stormy was fourth for the second time in a row at the district meet, Sheehy said.
After Union’s seven runners all finished in the top 15, the other teams began their battle for second place.
In the Union record books, O’Reilly and Evans have the two fastest cross country times for the 5,000 meters, while Hannah Brazil, Shoemaker and Alexandra Griffiths are seventh, eighth and ninth on the all-time list.
Welch in 4A race
Amanda Welch of La Grande will be competing in the 4A race Saturday as an individual, after winning the Greater Oregon League individual crown a week ago.
Pair of BMC teams eye championship
EUGENE — Two teams from the Blue Mountain Conference will be looking for something at Lane Community College Saturday — a strong finish at the state cross country championships.
Union’s boys team will be looking to improve on last year’s third place team finish, while Enterprise is hoping standout David Ribich can bring home an individual gold while helping the team to a strong finish.
Ribich won the boys district race by 30 seconds and was the only runner to break 17 minutes on the course in Pendleton’s McKay Park.
That helped propel the Outlaws into the state meet as a team by finishing second to Union in the team scoring. Union had 32 points, while the high country Outlaws were next with 58 points.
Austin Burns and Alex Tyler gave the Outlaws three finishers in the top 10.
They’ll need that kind of grouping and more Saturday to place high in the state meet.
Union’s Kenneth Sipp led Ethan Black, Riley Sheehy and Samuel O’Reilly into the top 10 at the district meet.
“Well, as always, I’m nervous this week,” Coach Sheehy said.
“We just plan to worry about the things we can control, and not worry about the things we can’t.
“It may sound cliche, but we really hope to just do our best, and let the chips fall where they will.”
Last year Union finished third behind Valley Catholic and Pleasant Hill, with Sipp, Black and Riley Sheehy finishing 23rd, 26th and 28th, respectively.
La Grande’s Elliott Jonasson will run in the 4A race.