There are many storylines that could headline the first official state cross country championship meet since 2019, scheduled for Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.
The Summit girls are going for their 13th straight state team championship while facing Jesuit and Lincoln teams that are having all-time great seasons.
The 6A boys team race could be one of the closest battles in state history, featuring four teams ranked in the top 30 nationally by DyeStat in Jesuit, Central Catholic, Lincoln and 2019 champion Franklin.
The 6A boys individual race is as wide open and deep as ever as 13 have broken 15 minutes for 5,000-meters.
Two boys will try to complete undefeated seasons. Crater junior Tyrone Gorze may prove to be the best runner in Oregon, not just 5A, while Zac Knapp of Enterprise has the top time for 3A boys by almost 30 seconds.
The Corvallis, Marist and Burns girls teams, along with the Enterprise boys, have powerful lineups ready to defend their titles from 2019.
But, the main event is the matchup in the 6A girls race as Jesuit senior Chloe Foerster and Lake Oswego junior Kate Peters will be facing off for the first time in two years. The race is scheduled to begin at 2:55 p.m., the eighth of nine total races on Saturday. Rain is forecast throughout the week.
“Course conditions could play a role,” Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger said. “It will probably be pretty wet and unfortunately once again the 6A runs at the end of the day.”
The Washington-bound Foerster is simply “one of the greatest distance runners in Oregon history," according to Rothenberger. Peters was a well-known phenom before she ever ran a high school race and is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by DyeStat.
Peters was second in the 2019 state meet running for Lincoln as a freshman, ahead of Foerster, who was fourth. They raced five times that season, with Peters coming out on top each time.
Foerster and Peters are both undefeated this season and each have set multiple course records. They have the top two times in the state. Peters ran a blistering 16:40.9 at the Nike PDX meet on Sept. 25. Foerster ran 16:51.6 to win the Metro league district meet last week.
“It’s a classic distance race situation,” Rothenberger said. “In that you have an athlete in Kate Peters who is a strong endurance athlete, but she is not as gifted footspeed-wise. And then you have Chloe Foerster, who has the range to run 54 seconds in the 400 all the way up to a 16:50 over 5K -- tremendous range.”
Despite COVID shortening track and cross country seasons into short six-week spans, both runners took advantage last spring. Foerster ran the second-fastest times in Oregon state history for 800 (2:05.27) and 1,500 (4:20.42). Peters didn’t run many races last spring, but still clocked 4:26.99 for 1,500 at the Portland Twilight meet.
“It’s an interesting matchup,” Rothenberger said. “I’m sure that one athlete doesn’t want it to come down to the track. They want it to be over before the track. Another athlete would like to be on the track close together.”
If either Peters or Foerster falters, two PIL seniors could be there to pick up the pieces and pull off the upset. Franklin’s Kaiya Robertson (16:58.6) and Lincoln’s Kendall York (17:00.9) have had historically great seasons.
Rothenberger is no stranger to having both his teams contending for the title. Jesuit last swept team titles at the 2017 6A meet.
“We are in good shape,” Rothenberger said. “We didn’t race a ton, so we have been able to stay pretty healthy. We are excited for the challenge of what Saturday holds.”
A look at the state meets, set for Saturday at Lane:
Teams to watch: Summit, Jesuit, Lincoln
Individual top times: Kate Peters, Lake Oswego, 16:40.9; Chloe Foerster, Jesuit, 16:51.6, Kaiya Robertson, Franklin, 16:58.6.
2019 team scores: Summit 41, Jesuit 80, Lincoln 85, South Eugene 139.
Top returning finishers: 2. Peters; 4. Foerster; 7. Robertson
Note: Three teams are ranked in the top 30 nationally by DyeStat; No. 5 Summit, No. 7 Jesuit, No. 27 Lincoln. The Summit girls are seeking a 13th consecutive state title; they won 10 straight 5A titles before moving to 6A and have won the past two 6A titles. Summit nipped Jesuit 43-47 at the early season Ash Creek meet on Sep. 11, but the teams have not seen each other since.
Teams to watch: Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Ashland, Putnam, Crater.
Individual top times: Emily Wisniewski, Crescent Valley, 17:29.9; Isabel Swain, North Salem, 18:10.3; Grace Yaconelli, Ashland, 18:10.8.
2019 team scores: Corvallis 67, Hood River Valley 71, Wilsonville 73, North Salem 74.
Top returning finishers: 1. Madeline Nason, Corvallis; 8. Ava Betts, Corvallis; 9. Gabriella Prusse, Wilsonville.
Note: Corvallis is heavily favored to defend its title from 2019, with five runners ranked in the top 12. Wisniewski, who is heavily favored to win the individual title, is only a freshman at Crescent Valley.
Teams to watch: Marist, Siuslaw, Valley Catholic, Philomath
Individual top times: Sophia Stubblefield, Phoenix, 18:25.0; Kyla Potratz, Phoenix, 18:29.3; Jennifer Tsai, Marist, 18:35.9.
2019 team scores: Marist 50, Siuslaw 71, Philomath 112, Tillamook 116.
Top returning finishers: 5. Tsai; 7. Stubblefield; 10. Hope Bridge, Stayton.
Note: Siuslaw senior Rylee Colton defeated Tsai at district by less than a second and will be in the mix for the individual title. Marist is going for its third straight title, winning in 2018 and 2019.
Teams to watch: Bandon, Vernonia, Union, Burns.
Individual top times: Makena Houston, Columbia Christian, 17:19.7; Daisy Lalonde, East Linn Christian, 18:20.0; Megan Cover, Catlin Gabel, 19:20.0.
2019 team scores: Burns 43, Union 110, Catlin Gabel 121, Bandon 122.
Top returning finishers: 2. Jordan White, Neah-Kah-Nie; 3. Brooke Smith, Burns; 4. Cover.
Note: Houston ran her top time on the track in a virtual race and won April’s 3A/2A/1A showcase meet by more than a minute. Bandon, Vernonia and Union are pretty evenly matched and it should be a tremendous race for the team title.
Teams to watch: Jesuit, Central Catholic, Lincoln, Franklin
Individual top times: Charlie North, Franklin, 14:40.0; James Crabtree, Sherwood, 14:45.5; Asher McKinnon, South Eugene, 14:48.3.
2019 team scores: Franklin 62, Jesuit 101, Sunset 118, Central Catholic 122.
Top returning finishers: 11. Benjamin Balazs, Sunset; 15. North; 20. Mason Kissell, Summit
Note: Four teams are ranked in the top-30 nationally by Dyestat; No. 4 Jesuit, No. 12 Central Catholic, No. 27 Lincoln, No. 29 Franklin. 13 different boys broke 15-minutes this season, making the individual race wide open.
Teams to watch: Crescent Valley, Crater, Wilsonville, South Albany
Individual top times: Tyrone Gorze, Crater, 14:29.3; Logan Law, Milwaukie, 14:43.2; Henry Coughlin, Crescent Valley, 14:56.2.
2019 team scores: Ashland 41, Crater 81, Crescent Valley 108, Wilsonville 138.
Top returning finishers: 6. Blake Byer, Crescent Valley; 9. Gorze; 10. Juan Diego Contreras, The Dalles.
Note: Crescent Valley and Crater are separated by one point on the hypothetical state meet on Athletic.net. Gorze is trying to complete an undefeated season. He ran to a convincing win at the 5A Midwestern league district meet, running 14:44.9.
Teams to watch: Siuslaw, Valley Catholic, Philomath, Cottage Grove.
Individual top times: Alexander Garcia-Silver, Marshfield, 15:06.6; Elwood Hosking, Phoenix, 15:32.9; Chad Hughes, Siuslaw, 16:05.0.
2019 team scores: Philomath 65, Sisters 70, Klamath Union 82, Marist 98.
Top returning finishers: 9. Brody Bushnell, Philomath; 26. Samuel Ulrich, Siuslaw; 28. Jaden Owens, Cottage Grove.
Note: The Siuslaw boys are favored to win the team title, with three runners ranked in the top 12. Garcia-Silver and Hosking ran their fast times on the track at the Crater 5K. A Marshfield junior, Garcia-Silver ran to a convincing win over Hughes at the Sky-Em league championships last Thursday.
Teams to watch: Enterprise, Burns, Westside Christian, Santiam Christian.
Individual top times: Zac Knapp, Enterprise, 15:14.7; Jake Sorani, Cascade Christian, 15:40.4; Benjamin Bourne, Santiam Christian, 15:50.6.
2019 team scores: Enterprise 35, Burns 38, Westside Christian 107, Catlin Gabel 113.
Top returning finishers: 3. Knapp; 4. Bayden Menton, Enterprise; 9. Sorani.
Note: Enterprise is heavily favored to repeat as team champions with all seven runners ranked in the top 30. Knapp will be trying to complete an undefeated season after switching his focus from soccer to cross country this season. Knapp finished third at the past three state championship meets.
Teams to watch: Bandon, Union, Knappa, St. Stephen’s Academy.
Individual top times: Caleb Brown, Pine Eagle, 15:54.9; Isaiah Rodriguez, Knappa, 15:56.0; Trevor Nichols, Heppner, 16:01.3
2019 team scores: St. Stephen’s Academy 42, Union 89, Bandon 95, Heppner 138.
Top returning finishers: 5. Colin Friend, St. Stephen’s Academy; 9. Taylor Fox, Union; 10. Nichols.
Note: In what figures to be a very close individual race, don’t discount St. Stephen’s Academy senior Colin Friend, the top returner from 2019. Friend has beaten Rodriguez in both of their head-to-head meetings this season, most recently by eight seconds at the 3A/2A/1A SD 1 district meet last Friday. Friend has committed to run for Duke University next year. The team race between Bandon and Union figures to be very tight as well.