PENDLETON — When 16 teams gathered Friday at Pendleton Community Park for the 3A/2A/1A-Special District 5 Cross Country Championships, there was a good idea of who would take home the boys championship. Union did so in true Union fashion, by dominating the competition with an elite class of runners. But it was the girls championship that was the most dramatic.
Both Union, and its familiar foe, Enterprise, finished tied with 37 points apiece. The tiebreaker came down to Enterprise’s No. 5 and 6 runners, who edged out Union for the Outlaws second consecutive district title.
“We know we’re always competing (with Union),” Enterprises No. 1 runner Kyla Hook said. “We knew today it was either going to be Union or us and of course we wanted it.”
Hook finished fourth in 19:58.55.
“Usually, it’s me and Union’s top runner so today I just wanted to break away from the group,” Hook said. “I tried my best. Our fifth and sixth runners are really picking it up this year and that’s how we beat Union this year.”
Hook’s race, however, didn’t come easy. She’s battled back from obstacles in the past, like when she ran the wrong way in the Bulldogs Fest in Hermiston but still managed to come away with a first place finish. This time around, it was a retainer that caused her problems.
“I started out pretty good and I felt pretty strong, and I felt fine really throughout the entire race,” Hook said. “But with this thing it’s harder to breathe. Right about here with about 500 meters left, I actually felt done. I wanted to stop but then I was like, ‘I can’t.’ So, I had to finish the race. I know I wasn’t pushing my hardest but I finished and I didn’t want anyone else to pass me. I feel like I did pretty good for my first districts. I maybe could have finished a little stronger but I felt it was a good race.”
The tie breaker came down to Ellyse Tingelstad and Eliza Irish, whose top-10 finishes gave the Outlaws the edge.
“Our fifth and sixth runners are really picking it up this year and that’s how we beat Union this year,” Hook added.
Union’s Alisa Fox earned a first place finish after clocking 19:46.3. The Union boys team always took home the individual championship with Alex Graffunder claiming the boys individual title. Graffunder was well ahead of the rest of the field, and finished the race in 15:40.9 — five seconds of a new personal best.
Heppner’s Hunter Nichols finished in fifth place (17:01.3; 6) to qualify for state for the second consecutive year, and was able to keep up some very fast runners, as the second through fourth place runners finished 30 seconds a part.
The entire Union boys and girls squads and the Burn boys team and Enterprise girls team qualified for state. Of the individual runners, Nichols will be joined by Burns’ Emmett Klus, and Nyssa’s Olivia Page.
The state championship will be ran at Lane Community College on Nov. 4
BOYS TEAM: 1, Union, 23; 2, Burns, 77; 3, Stanfield, 103; 4, Heppner, 111; 5, Nyssa, 142; 6, Enterprise, 176; 7, Griswold, 189; 8, Vale, 196; 9, Elgin, 213; 10, Grant Union, 246; 11, Umatilla, 252.
GIRLS TEAM: 1, Enterprise, 37; 2, Union, 37; 3, Griswold, 90; 4, Burns, 111; 5, Stanfield, 143; 6, Heppner, 150; 7, Umatilla, 152; 8, Culver, 157.
BOYS INDIVIDUAL: 1, Alex Graffunder, Union, 15:40.9; 2, Tim Stevens, Union, 16:12.9; 3, Emmett Klus, Burns, 16:26.5; 4, Jeremy Baxter, Union, 16:14.9; 5, Hunter Nichols, Heppner, 17:01.3; 6, Jack Silveira, Union, 17:09.8; 7, Sisay Hurty, Stanfield, 17:12.8; 8, Zayne Troeger, Umatilla, 17:23.2; 9, Chris Acosta, Nyssa, 17:25.1; 10, Andrew Lackey, Union, 17:26.4.
GIRLS INDIVIDUAL: 1, Alisa Fox, Union, 19:46.3; 2, Jaimee Baxter, Union, 19:54.0; 3, Olivia Page, Nyssa, 19:54.0; 4, Kyla Hook, Enterprise, 19:58.5; 5, Ellyse Tingelstad, Enterprise, 20:04.3; 6, Michelle Herbes, Union, 20:06.3; 7, Mackenzie Heideman, Heppner, 20:39.1; 8, Mary Letham, Burns, 20:50.6; 9, Lucy Case, Helix, 21:00.6; 10, Eliza Irish, Enterprise, 21:01.6.
Contact Alexis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4542. Follow her on Twitter @almansanarez.