With the first large meet of the season coming on Friday, I’ll be giving a rundown of the favorites in each HS class in the meet and an idea of what to expect from those races.
Freshmen (8:05 PM Race Start)
Mira Danish – Roosevelt: Among the entries in the 3,000 meter freshman, Mira is the fastest of them all. Back in 2019, the last middle school season for many girls, Danish put up an 11:26.5 in the 3,000 meters ranking the 4th best of all 7th graders in the state. After a year without data, should be interesting to see how she competes in her first HS meet for Roosevelt, with expectations to be reasonable given the gap in competition.
Gitte Lonigan – West Salem: Finishing only 4.5 seconds off her personal best from 2019, Lonigan showed her ability to keep pace during a pandemic riddled XC season in the spring. She ran an 11:38 for Straub MS on April 1st, setting her best for the season and short of her PB by less than five seconds. She should slide in as a possible favorite in Wilsonville for the freshman class.
Kailua Balazs – Sunset: Another freshman without an 8th grade season, Balazs was in the thick of things back in 2019, running 11:35.5 at the USATF Region 13 Junior Olympic Championships. Just like with others on this list, the gap year in competition make the expectations harder to predict, but she has the potential to be right up there in this one.
Yemi Rue – McMinnville: As a 7th grader at Duniway MS, she put up an 11:44 in the 3,000 Meters prior to the MS Cross Country State Championships. Despite not finishing well at the state championships, she has the potential to flash up an impressive time and be in the mix on Friday.
Race Pick: Gitte Lonigan – West Salem
Sophomores (8:35 PM Start)
Ella McGillis – Central Catholic: In the 3,000 Meters, McGillis is the outright favorite to win this race. An entire 22 seconds ahead of her teammate Zoe Rector with an 11:22, her impressive time in the Spring meet opener not only raises eyebrows, but it shows the potential she has to get below the 11 minute mark. In her other meet, while she put up a 12:11, it would’ve ranked in the Top 10 of all 2020 Freshman for the entire season.
Zoe Rector – Central Catholic: As a freshman at Riverdale, the transfer runner recorded a personal best 11:43, finished second fastest among all freshman in Oregon. She finished 2nd place at the 3A/2A/1A State Championships, and her addition to the Rams is simply another weapon for Central Catholic to use this season.
Jordyn Davies – Wells: Davies improved upon her middle school best time in her only 3,000 meter run last season, breaking the 12 minute threshold and putting up an 11:57 in the event this Spring. If her impressive season to season splits mean anything, she might very well be up there with the Central Catholic duo in Wilsonville.
Mikenzy Rosen – Horizon Christian: Last season showed some regression for Rosen in the 3,000 meters, as she finished 14 seconds behind her best in her eighth grade season. However, given that the run occurred in a virtual meet, it is a completely different environment on race day with many other girls around you. Whether its a sign or just a fluke, Rosen is one to keep an eye on in the 3,000 meters on Friday in Wilsonville and could play a role in how this one pans out.
McKenzie Milton – Sherwood: Marking progress over her 8th grade season, Milton finished in the Top 10 among freshman last year in the 3,000 meters with a 12:13 run for the Lady Bowmen. While she might not be a favorite to win, she certainly can make a strong impression and start strong in the first meet of the season.
Race Pick: Ella McGillis – Central Catholic
Juniors (9:05 PM Start)
Paige Wiley – Sunset: Setting the mark twice last season, Wiley is one of the favorites to take this race among the juniors in Wilsonville. She ran a personal best 10:56 in back to back meets, showing consistency and improvement over her freshman season with the Apollos. That time also placed her as the 2nd best among sophomores from the Spring, finishing only behind West Salem’s Olivia Moye.
Sara Abbott – Sprague: A drop-off from her freshman campaign, Abbott still finished with the third fastest 3,000 meter time in the sophomore class during the Spring. This opener will be an opportunity to get back under the 11 minute mark for Abbott, who flashed signs of potential in the 5,000 meters during the Spring season and might enter the mix at the state championships in the event.
Kaydence Nguyen – McKay: Part of the power trio from Salem (Abbott, Nguyen, Sophia Miller), Nguyen showed improvement in her only 3,000 meter run last year, marking a 19 second jump to a personal best 11:19 in the event this spring. While still off the pace of Wiley and Abbott, she can be a wild card factor in this race and be in position for a Top 3 finish in Wilsonville.
Sophia Miller – South Salem: The last of the Salem trio, her 5th best 3,000 meter time among all sophomores in Oregon during the Spring was a personal best for the Lady Saxon. Her 11:36 looks slow in comparison to the three girls before her, but with a 20 second jump in her personal best time from her time as a freshman, her and Nguyen could be in a fight for the third place position or even the win if the cards fall correctly.
Morgan Boddy – Liberty: When you make a near three minute jump in your personal best, that alone catches the attention of this journalist. Clearly working hard during the pandemic, she showcased it in the Spring when she improved her best in the 3,000 meters from a 14:31 to 11:47, a nearly three minute improvement from her freshman season. While she likely won’t run a sub-10 minute race, she could be a dark horse to the favorites Abbott and Wiley.
Race Pick: Sara Abbott – Sprague
Seniors (9:35 PM Start)
Zoey Hock – South Salem: Hock is the favorite to take the race in Wilsonville on Friday, as she is the second fastest senior in Oregon for the 3,000 meters. Just like Liberty’s Morgan Boddy, the 2020 season gave Hock the opportunity to show her improvement and she didn’t disappoint, recording a nearly three minute improvement in her best time in the event.
Sydney Haines – McKay: Part of a solid Lady Scots team, Haines boasts the third best time of all seniors in Oregon from the Spring season. Recording a best 11:14, Haines showed that she has the ability to be the anchor for McKay during the 2021 season, and she’ll have an opportunity to take home a W to start the year.
Paige Trautman – South Salem: Look up the definition of efficiency and Trautman’s name would pop up as an example. While the Spring didn’t bring a personal best in the event, she finished almost on pace with her best from her sophomore year, only dropping two seconds off the pace. Her ability to be consistent will be important for the Lady Saxons in 2021, as they look to sneak up as an emerging threat in 6A this year.
Georgia Hicken – Sherwood: Dropping 12 seconds off her sophomore pace, she still finished with the 5th best time of all juniors in the Spring, which shows her ability to still compete well in the 3,000 meters event. If she can put up something close to her 11:14 as a sophomore, Hicken could be in a drag race with Hock towards the finish line on Friday Night in Wilsonville.
Sophie Smithstanza – Central Catholic: Another example of exceptional work put in during the pandemic, Smithstanza made a huge impression with her nearly three minute improvement in the 3,000 meter event with an 11:34 time in the Spring season opener. Together with sophomores Zoe Rector and Ella McGillis, Central Catholic can put themselves in a nice position to compete for a 6A title with this solid trio.
Race Pick: Zoey Hock – South Salem