Out of every sport I cover, the one that is the most mysterious is usually cross country. Its a sport that competes against everyone every week, with actual meets to decide district/conference titles to punch tickets to the state championships. With that, there is a certain method to understanding these qualifications, so I’m here to guide y’all through it and give an idea of what to expect…
Method: The top three teams from every conference qualify for the state championships, and the top seven runners in the class automatically qualify, regardless of team. Runners already on qualified teams have advanced by default, possibly resulting in no additional runners at the championships.
PIL: Lincoln, Franklin, Wells
Metro: Jesuit, Sunset, Westview
Pacific: Sherwood, Glencoe, McMinnville
Mt. Hood: Central Catholic, Barlow, Clackamas
Three Rivers: Lakeridge, Lake Oswego, St. Mary’s Academy
Mountain Valley: Summit, South Salem, McKay
Southwest: South Eugene, Grants Pass, Sheldon
Individual Qualifiers: None
Teams On The Bubble: Mountainside, Newberg, Tigard, Tualatin
This is the best idea of how the state championships will work this season, just the top conference teams and that is it. With all the fastest seven runners being on teams with auto bids, there are no more runners to add to the field. The bubble teams listed are aiming for their final conference bid, so let’s look at the them a bit closer.
Mountainside: The Mavs are neck and neck with Westview for the final auto bid, with only a hypothetical 2 point spread separating the teams. Both teams boast strong lineups that will place well at districts, and the only difference is that Westview has Sonja Jones at #9 while Mountainside’s Zoe Heino sits at #11. Other than that, every other runner balances out between these teams point wise. Every spot counts literally, so districts should be extremely entertaining in the Metro League.
Newberg: If you thought the Mountainside vs Westview margin was narrow, wait until I tell you that Newberg sits only one point behind McMinnville in a hypothetical district meet. That one point spells the difference between Eugene and not going to Eugene. There’s one key athlete in this: Tricia Seto. If she can put up a PB at districts and move up a couple spots, then the Tigers might be able to pull this out. It takes a team effort, but Seto’s performance is extremely critical as the final placer on this Newberg squad.
Tigard And Tualatin: These two get lumped together for this guide, primarily because they’re dead even with one another and both pursuing the St. Mary’s Academy. What Tigard needs is to get better placements behind their top runners Lillian Herman and Sabine Kim, both of which sit in the Top 10 of the TRL. After these two, no one else sits in the Top 25 for the Tigers. As for Tualatin, they’re a better team in terms of being spread out in scoring, but it isn’t enough to overcome Tigard’s front heavy lineup and St. Mary’s better lineup. All they can really do is place as well as possible and hope its enough to sneak past those two to get to Eugene.
State Champion: Summit Storm, Runner-Up: Jesuit Crusaders
Individual Champion: Kate Peters, Lake Oswego Lakers
Specifics: 13 automatic team bids, Top 5 individual runners qualify
NWOC: Putnam, La Salle Prep, Wilsonville
Midwestern: Ashland, Crater, Churchill, Springfield
Mid-Willamette: Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Dallas, North Salem
Intermountain: Hood River, The Dalles
Individual Qualifiers: Megumi Ludlow (West Albany)
Teams On The Bubble: Silverton
There’s only realistically one spot up for grabs: The final at-large bid out of the Mid-Willamette Conference, as the others look to be pretty set in stone.
Silverton: There’s two points separating the Foxes and the Vikings, that’s it. The big blockade for Silverton is Isabel Swain, the Vikings star who puts North Salem over the top in the conference race. To put it bluntly, the Foxes need to pick up spots to overcome Swain’s top finish potential or hope North Salem falters and opens the door to Silverton making it to Eugene.
State Champion: Corvallis Spartans, Runner-Up: Crescent Valley Raiders
Individual Champion: Emily Wisniewski (Crescent Valley)
Specifics: 12 team auto-bids, Top 5 individual qualifiers from each conference
Cowapa: Valley Catholic, Tillamook
Tri-Valley: Estacada, Corbett
Oregon West: Philomath, Stayton
Sky Em: Marist, Siuslaw
Skyline: Klamath Union, Phoenix
Greater Oregon: Baker, La Grande
Bubble Teams: The Whole Oregon West
Cowapa: Ella Zilli (Astoria)
Tri-Valley: Hannah MacDuffee (Madras), Abigail Sanderson (Gladstone), Kenley Doubrava (North Marion)
Oregon West: Aliya Larsen (Newport), Cami Oliva (Cascade), Ella Bartlett (Sisters), Myranda Marquez (Woodburn)
Sky Em: Libby Fox (Junction City)
Greater Oregon: None
Outside of Philomath, the entire Oregon West Conference is close enough to take a crack at the district title. There’s only 22 points that separate Stayton and Woodburn, an extremely close race that encompasses five teams separated by tightest of margins. Their district meet can make anything happen, so who will go to Eugene with Philomath? I’m excited to find out, it should be a great battle!
State Champion: Marist, Runner-Up: Siuslaw
Individual Champion: Sophia Stubblefield (Phoenix)
Specifics: 12 teams qualify, Top 5 individuals in each district qualify
District 1: Vernonia, Catlin Gabel, St. Stephen’s Academy
District 2: Kennedy, Harrisburg, Blanchet Catholic, Central Linn
District 3: Union, Heppner
District 4: Bandon, Myrtle Point, Pleasant Hill
Bubble Teams: St. Mary’s Medford, North Douglas
District 1: Makena Houston (Columbia Christian), Mikenzy Rosen (Horizon Christian)
District 2: Daisy Lalonde (East Linn), Jordan White (Neah-Kah-Nie), Athena Lau (Scio)
District 3: Kallyn Wilkins (Condon), Ashley Jentzsch (La Pine), Olivia Winn (Burns)
District 4: Addie Jensen (St. Mary’s Medford)
There’s only really one district that is in hot contention, which would be District 4 and its two final auto bids to Eugene. This one is a four team shootout with only six minutes separating Myrtle Point and North Douglas, with every other team listed sandwiched in between.
Myrtle Point: They boast four of the 30 best girls in their district, making them a favorite to make it to state out of the district meet. However, they only have a two minute gap between them and the first bubble team St. Mary’s Medford, giving them little room for error heading into districts.
Pleasant Hill: With only five girls on the roster, the Billies have to get the best ounce of performance from every girl on the team, as there’s no sixth or seventh runner available to make up points with. Luckily for them, every one of them are in the Top 40 of the district, but they’re cutting it close with a slim six second gap between them and the Crusaders. Every finishing spot matters, and they’ll need their best performance of the season at districts to make it in.
St. Mary’s Medford: On paper, the Crusaders are actually better than Pleasant Hill, but its the finishing order that gets them beat hypothetically. Basing the results on their fastest times for every team, the Billies get in from two Top 20 finishes that offset district leader Addie Jensen and Sydney Godwin, who have no placers again until #30. Its an eight point difference that is able to be closed, but they need to keep an eye for the team directly behind them.
North Douglas: Its all in the hands of Sydney Sprinkle, the fifth runner for the five girl North Douglas roster. All of her teammates sit within the Top 27 of the district, a pace that will be more than enough if Sprinkle can put up a career performance at districts. She currently sits at #48, which would fall the Trojans 12 points short of St. Mary’s Medford and 20 short of Pleasant Hill. Can she do it? If she can, she’ll be the hero that got North Douglas to state in 2021! However, she’ll try her hardest and that’s more than enough.
State Champion: Too Close To Call between Bandon and Vernonia
Individual Champion: Makena Houston (Columbia Christian)