With 3A/2A/1A being combined in the cross country category, alongside soccer, I’ll be previewing them as a classification for those two sports, with my preview starting in cross country. Defending champion Burns prevails from the 3A classification, where they torched the field by 67 points en route to their first state championship in school history. Led by freshman Brooke Smith, the Hilanders are primed for a repeat in 2020 behind the heels of Smith, Riley Morris, Olivia Winn, and Mattie Woodbury, who are all underclassmen returning for the 2021 season with Burns.
Behind state champion Lila Fenner, Catlin Gabel put up a third place finish at state in 2019, along with a strong showing from returning junior Megan Cover. However, the Eagles will need improvement from their other state qualifiers to compete in 2020, as Bandon, Lakeview, Sutherlin, and others all have young teams returning after strong state showings last season. The Eagles have shining lights in Alexandria Nagy, Kelly Park, Lottie Malkmus, and Mikayla Stout, and can certainly fight their way this year, but its an uphill battle for the Eagles.
The Bandon Tigers return a fountain of youth, with Holly Hutton, Danielle McLain, Aunika Miller, Kylie Barker, and Hannah Blackard all returning as underclassmen, meaning they’ll be around at least the next two years, putting the Tigers in position to compete for the state title with some improvement on their times. Hutton, McLain, and Miller all put up Top 21 times as the Tigers took fourth in 2019, and with some help from the back end of their qualifying runners, the Tigers could be looking at a shot at Burns for the state championship in 2020.
Another youthful team, Yamhill-Carlton received strong state showings from Cristin Brethower and Alyse Hurley, with the Tigers taking ninth in 2019. With their entire state team with the exception of Grace Armstrong returning, Yamhill-Carlton is looking to make waves in 2020 with some improvement and taking advantage of at least three senior runners graduating at the top of the 3A/2A/1A charts last year. With five underclassmen and a senior, the Tigers are a dark horse contender to keep an eye on at the state championships.
Sutherlin wraps up this 3A cross country preview, as they have six underclassmen returning from the 2019 team, which took tenth at the state championships. Madison Turner and Ashley Radmer led the way for them in 2019, finishing in the top 45 in a solid showing for the young team, who return four sophomores and two juniors this season. Another team looking to improve, it shouldn’t take a lot of consistent improvement for them to finish higher in 2020, although the daunting list of teams in front of them will present challenges once state does roll around this year.