Wilsonville Night Meet: Johnston Bursts On The Scene, CC’s Sophomore Duo Shines, PIL Shows Their Muscle

Wilsonville — On Friday night, 48 teams came together to put on a great meet to open the 2021 Cross Country season under the lights in Wilsonville! While some notable teams like Lake Oswego, Summit, and others weren’t present, there was plenty of talent to observe and takeaway from in our first measuring stick of the fall cross country season.

Ansley Johnston Makes Her Forceful Arrival

In an unforgettable Freshman debut, South Eugene’s Ansley Johnston not only won the Freshman 3K event, but she dominated it. Putting up a 10:32, it was the third fastest time of the evening overall and good enough to win by 12 seconds over Sunset’s Kailua Balazs. Traditionally, most journalists have trouble gauging freshman because of our lack of familiarity with them on the HS level and I am no exception. Johnston sent a forceful impression in her first HS meet, and it certainly appears that she has a very bright career in front of her at South Eugene. Further, with this type of performance consistently, there’s no question that she can help make the Axe a real contender in 6A.

Fale Breaks Through And Central Catholic’s Sophomore Duo Are As Advertised

Entering Friday, the sophomore race was one of the most intriguing due to the newest power duo in 6A Cross Country, Ella McGillis and Zoe Rector making their debut as teammates after Rector’s transfer from Riverdale. Josie Fale of Wells took out the power duo, claiming the victory with a 10:41 run while the duo finished 2nd and 3rd behind her by about six seconds. After these three, no other sophomores finished within 15 seconds of them, showing the significant gap between the top three and everyone else at Wilsonville on Friday. For Fale, it means that Wells has yet another weapon in their arsenal to use as they look to compete for a state title, while Central Catholic cannot be anything short of pleased with their newest combo after the season opener.

Portland Interscholastic League Is The Strongest Conference

With three of their members being ranked in the XC Coaches Poll, the PIL didn’t disappoint in Wilsonville. Their “worst” event was the Freshman race, where two runners finished in the Top 10 of the event. Every other race had at least four PIL runners finish as part of the Top 10, including the overall wins picked up by Franklin’s Kaiya Robertson and Alicia Mache of Wells. While Jesuit and Summit might be the best teams and weren’t present in Wilsonville, the PIL arguably filled with the most talent from top to bottom in their conference, even when presented with the forces of the Metro League or Mountain Valley Conference.

Other Notable Notes

The best finish of the night came in the Junior 3K race, with Tigard’s Lillian Herman getting into a drag race to the finish with Sunset’s Paige Wiley. Herman ultimately broke away by about one body length to take the W, starting off her season with a hard earned win over a talented Wiley.

Lincoln wasn’t the headliner in Wilsonville, but they quietly picked up some solid finishes in the Sophomore, Junior, and Senior races, coming home with a fourth place finish by Keira Saavedra, sixth from Eva Novy-Hildesley, and a 3-4 finish by Kendall York and Luna Abadia. A really solid season debut by the Cardinals, who are looking to build their way to make a run at Jesuit and Summit.


  1. Winner of the Sophomore race last night wasn’t actually, Alicia Mache. Josie Fale was wearing her bib number. Josie’s coach, Thor Esbensen, can confirm.


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