Great job, state champ UHS Bobcats

By Observer editorial November 07, 2012 02:20 pm

Eugene calls itself the track capital of the world. Union and Cove just might have a right to call itself the cross country capital of Oregon.

Northeast Oregon has turned into a running hotbed, thanks to great coaching and some hard working athletes that strive to be their best every day. It’s not a glamorous sport. You don’t see cross country on TV often. And cross country athletes won’t be called upon to do shampoo and car commercials anytime soon.

No matter.

For those of us who care, Union/Cove winning both the boys and girls state championships on the same day is up there with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl.

Union/Cove teams drove the 400 miles to Eugene with big goals in mind for Saturday’s races. That they accomplished those goals is mighty amazing.

 In the girls race, Union/Cove’s one-two punch — Katriel O’Reilly and McKenzie Evans — left everyone else in the dust, or the mud as the case may be.

O’Reilly and Evans led the way to Union/Cove’s 3A/2A/1A 29-point win — the school’s second in a row. The boys, however, had a closer battle, winning by just one point. That helped Union/Cove to beat East Lane Christian, 93 to 94.

It was the boys’ fifth state championship. The previous ones came in 1978, 1997, 2007 and 2008.

The Lady Bobcats, meanwhile, claimed their 10th state title. What a tradition for both the boys and the girls.

Longtime Union Coach Steve Sheehy may have had the best day in his career, the first time since he’s been coaching that both boys and girls have claimed the state title.

For more than two decades now, Union has been building its tradition as a running powerhouse, and the state titles just keep coming. For many years coach Tom Hayes developed what has now become a juggernaut.

Running cross country builds lifelong skills of discipline, determination, teamwork and dedication. These kids, for all their hard work, sacrifice and dedication, give us a lot of hope for the future.

Forevermore the Union/Cove boys and girls can put on their resumes that they were the state champs. That is something no one can take away from them.

For Union girls and boys both, cross country 2012 was a season to remember. These young runners more than lived up to expectations, and gave all of Union County a reason to feel proud.