EUGENE — State championship season is here, and several local teams will head to Eugene to compete for a title.

A number of schools have a shot at making some noise as a team, while other local standouts will shoot for individual titles.

The action is set to take place at Lane Community College on Saturday, Nov. 6. The 3A/2A/1A state races begin at 10 a.m. and the 4A races at 11:45 a.m.

Union/Cove aim for team titles

The Union/Cove cross-country team has had a very productive season, topped off with district titles on both the girls and boys sides. For head coach Steve Sheehy, the pieces have fallen into place as the season progressed.

“The boys and the girls showed at the district meet that we’re right on track for a pretty good race this weekend,” Sheehy said.

Union/Cove won the 2A/1A boys race with a dominant score of 27 points, while the girls team won the 3A/2A/1A race with 33 points.

Junior Taylor Fox leads the way on the boys team, running in the low 16-minute range twice this season. Sophomore Eli Williams, senior Skyler Perkins and freshman Nathanael O’Reilly all finished in the top 10 at the district meet, solidifying the team’s depth on the boys side.

“Any time you want to do well as a team, you have to have your four, five and six running well,” Sheehy said. “For both the boys and girls sides, we have that.”

Union/Cove’s girls team has depth as well, which was illustrated by five runners finishing in the top 15 of the district race. Senior Audrey Wells leads the way, after earning an individual district title with a personal-best time of 20:23. Senior Audrey Garlitz and sophomore Kaci Baxter are coming off top-10 finishes at the district meet and will look to help the team’s score at the state championship.

The Bobcats placed first at the Spring 3A/2A/1A state cross-country championship last season, defeating Bandon by just two points. Fox finished with a 16:48 and placed fourth in his sophomore season. Heading into this year’s championship, Bandon is the favorite on the boys side.

“On both sides, we’re going to take a shot and see what happens,” Sheehy said. “We want to go down there and do our best. We think we can really compete.”

La Grande eyes 4A championship

The La Grande cross-country teams head to the state championship looking to make some noise on the boys side and potentially contend for a title on the girls side.

The girls top group of underclassmen has been stellar this season, which was evident in the 4A district championship. The foursome of sophomore Emily Tubbs, freshman Cecilia Villagomez, sophomore Kiah Carlson and sophomore Faith Calhoun took the top four spots in the district en route to a first-place team finish.

Tubbs has placed first in all seven of the races she has competed in this year, recording a season-best time of 18:44 at the district championship. In Villagomez’s freshman year, she improved by more than 4 minutes during the season. Her top time this year was a 19:54 at the Pioneer run on Oct. 20.

On the boys side, Caleb Murie has led the way for La Grande this season. The junior has dropped his time to a season-best 18:17.

The senior duo of Donald Sweet and Connor Heather, who placed eighth and ninth at the district championship, will look to add depth for the Tigers.

Knapp leads dominant Wallowa Valley team

The Wallowa Valley boys cross-country team heads into the state championship looking like a potential favorite, and senior Zac Knapp will be aiming to conclude an incredible season.

Knapp has recorded blazing times all year, and he took it to another level at the 3A district championship. The senior blew out the field and clocked in a personal-best time of 15:14. He enters the state meet as the odd-on favorite to take the individual title.

Behind Knapp is a deep group of upperclassmen who have put together consistent scores this season.

Bayden Menton placed third at the district meet with a 16:23, while Ian Goodrich took fifth at 17:05. Levi Ortswam rounds out a top four for Wallowa Valley that is capable of bringing home a state title.

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