BANDON — The Bandon boys cross country team is trying to approach this week’s meet as if it is any other race. But that task is proving difficult as the team prepares for Saturday’s state meet at Lane Community College.
“I guess just, simply put, it’s the culmination of our entire year,” said Bandon senior Aero Franklin. “See what we’ve got, see what the whole year has lead up to.”
After taking first as a team at the district meet, the Tigers are now fighting for a top-three finish when they head to Eugene. With St. Stephen’s Academy out of Beaverton sitting as the top team, it is Union projected second based off of season personal records while Bandon is slotted in at third.
“All the workouts and all the runs we’ve done for the last six months, they’re all working together and they’re all going to come together at state,” said Bandon senior and top-runner Isaac Cutler. “I’m really hoping it does because our team, we have such potential.”
With Cutler at the front for the Tigers in a time of 16 minutes 48 seconds he is hoping for a top-10 finish at the meet. Franklin, the team’s second runner in a time of 17:17, is looking to finish in the top-20 on Saturday.
But regardless of the team’s top runners, head coach Brent Hutton sees No. 7 runner Charlie Ells as the engine that will make the rest of the team go and give them a chance at a high finish.
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“He’s actually probably the key person on our team,” said Hutton. “If he can bring them through the first mile responsibly and push the second mile, none of those guys let him go.”
With Cutler and Franklin speeding ahead, the rest of the Bandon team runs in a close pack. Currently, nine seconds separate Patton Clark, Bandon’s No. 3 runner, from Ells. Clark’s PR is 17:51 while Luke Brown is at 17 minutes 53 seconds, Ansen Converse at 17:55, Hunter Angove at 18:00 and Ells at 18:00.
Ells ran that time at the district meet, when he was Bandon's third runner, finishing sixth overall, with Brown eighth, Converse 12th, Angove 13th and Clark 17th.
After placing fifth as a team at the state meet last season, the Tigers have five racers from that team competing this year. And for Cutler, who has competed at state since his freshman season, he believes the team’s experience will be a factor in its success.
“It helps the team tremendously because we’ve done this so many times. We know… the spots on the course where you can get some time, the spots where you have to push it up,” said Cutler. “Honestly, the experience helps us a lot. Because when you first run the course you don’t really know what you’re doing.”