October 31, 2001 11:00 pm
AT LEFT: Stephanie Upshaw of Union will go for her fourth-straight top-10 finish at the state meet. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).
AT LEFT: Stephanie Upshaw of Union will go for her fourth-straight top-10 finish at the state meet. (The Observer/PAT PERKINS).

By Pat Perkins

Observer Staff Writer

If Tom Hayes is to retire as coach of a state champion girls cross country team, he will need a doctors clearance to do so.

A positive medical opinion is what Union sophomore Shannon Mitchell needs to run in Saturdays OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 2A/1A State Cross Country Championships at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Mitchell, Unions No. 2 runner, nearly collapsed near the end of last weeks district meet in Pendleton. At the hospital, doctors discovered a problem with her blood sugar level.

Two sets of tests later, the final results arent in. Mitchell is ready to run, Hayes said, pending doctors clearance.

Its fine, only we dont really know that, said Hayes, who will retire from Union High School next spring as a teacher and cross country and track and field coach. Everything really is probably working in our best interest as long as we get some closure.

With Mitchell and senior Stephanie Upshaw, Union could have two top-10 runners and is a strong contender for its fifth state girls title under Hayes since 1985.

If Mitchell cannot compete, Union will race with six girls instead of seven.

With six well still have a shot, although it will be less so, Hayes said.

Mitchell was 10th last year, but look for Union to be in the trophy hunt no matter Mitchells status. And watch for Upshaw to finish her career with her fourth top-10 showing. She was seventh as a freshman and ninth as a sophomore and junior.

Three other Bobcats have run before at state: juniors Jill Vorderstrasse and Rosa Goodman and sophomore Ashley Sharratt. Unions two first-timers are junior Deborah Hachen and freshman Kara Baxter.

We were still showing a little tired at district, Hayes said. Were at max, were feeling good and looking good. Everything is probably at an optimum for us if only we knew who could run and who cant. Well feel better if we all go.

Theyve competed hard all year and its time to go out and enjoy the fruits of their labor.


The Enterprise boys have a habit of doing well enough at district to get second place, then doing so well at state they perform better than their districts champion.

Stanfields runners have the target on their back Saturday, and Enterprise coach Dan Moody believes his team is ready.

We do things to prepare ourselves for the state meet that other teams dont do, Moody said. We have tradition, and thats a lot of pressure on the kids. They take a lot of pride in it. They all know that theyll be letting all those past teams down if they dont do well.

Enterprise has won only one district title (2000) in 12 years under Moody, but has finished second six times and has outscored the district champion at state four times.

Led by junior Austin Himes, Enterprise will try to get a state trophy for the eighth-straight year. Himes was 14th last year but has higher goals.

Austin was disappointed that he didnt get in the top 10 and thats something he wants to rectify this year, Moody said.

Junior Willie Grover and sophomores Chris Lozier and Andrew Gorbett were part of Enterprises second-place team last year. Junior Brandon Kiser, sophomore Andy Vernarsky and freshman Michael Swart round out the team.

Enterprises girls were fifth at state in 2000, and sophomore Linnaea Kibler will look to crack the top 10. She was 12th a year ago. Senior Keely Hopkins and sophomores Brandi Bowman and Caitlin Baird were on the 2000 squad, and senior Marilyn Araya and freshmen Whitney Locke and Nicole Anderson join the team this year.

Moody had his teams train this week at the Alpine Meadows Golf Course, which comes closest to mimicking the muddy conditions at Lane Community College.

Its soft, and a totally different terrain than weve trained on, Moody said.


Wallowa is sending three experienced state qualifiers to this years meet, and Union and La Grande have first-timers joining them.

Wallowa junior Larae Guillory will run in the girls Class 2A race. Wallowa senior Patrick Smergut and sophomore Nick Johnson and Union freshman Bill Garrison will participate in the boys race.

La Grandes Kayla Arritola will run in the Class 3A girls race.

Smergut was 16th at last years race, with Johnson close behind in 19th. Guillory was 24th for the girls.