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Grace gets La Grande harriers to state meet

The La Grande girls cross country team takes off from the starting line at the distirct meet Friday. (Courtesy photo)
The La Grande girls cross country team takes off from the starting line at the distirct meet Friday. (Courtesy photo)
 

MILTON-FREEWATER — The La Grande cross country team needed a little grace to make it to the state meet, and it got it in the form of junior Grace Ridder.

The Tigers took second at the district meet with a team score of 68 Friday at Milton-Freewater, which left them tied with Crook County. That meant it came down the sixth runner to decide which team would move on to state.

“I told all the girls before the match that we would need them to run their best,” La Grande coach Talia Welch said. “Grace is a steady runner. You know what you’re going to get from her.”

Ridder finished in a time of 24 minutes, 26.50 seconds, while Crook County’s fifth runner, Shannon Love, crossed the finish line at 25:13.50.

Senior Amanda Welch led the Tigers with a time of 21:05.10, which placed her third overall.

Ridgeview won the team title with a score of 45, led by Dakota Steen’s 21:01 finish.

La Grande’s Jackie Wanta will return to the state meet for the first since her freshman season. The senior finished second on the team, and 14th overall, with a time of 23:20.20.

Sophomore Laney Wood came in 15th with a time of 23:34.30.

“Laney has made big improvements in the last few races,” Welch said. “She’s learned how to run a little faster. Her last two meets have been
amazing.”

While the girls race offered the right side of a close battle, La Grande didn’t have grace on the boys side.

The Tigers missed moving on to the state meet by two points.

Baker City won the meet with a score of 56. Crook Country took second with 69 points, and La Grande finished with 71 points.

“It was kind of devastating,” Welch said. “We really didn’t expect all the teams to come out and run so fast. We had beat Baker in every race this season. It’s a bitter pill to take, but it happens in this sport.”

La Grande’s Todd Keniry finished sixth overall with a time of 17:07. Elliot Jonasson came in seventh, finishing at the 17:11.30 mark.

The Tigers will return all seven runners to the boys team next season.

The Class 4A state girls meet will begin at 11:15 a.m Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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