In leagues all across the state, this week marks the most important cross country meet of the season up to this point with the running of the district championship. With a coveted ticket to the state cross country meet at Lane Community College on Nov. 9 on the line, local racers are ready for the big stage.
“I kind of just want to make sure I do well so I can secure some key points for our team. We have a good chance of making it to state,” said North Bend’s freshman speedster Alex Garcia-Silver. “If I could potentially qualify individually — that would be pretty hard to do — but that’s definitely what I would shoot for.”
Garcia-Silver, with a personal best time of 16 minutes and 10 seconds, has sped his way to the 13th fastest time in the 5A classification. While that time would put him in podium contention at the state meet, first comes the challenge of racing at districts on Wednesday in Springfield in an especially difficult Midwestern League.
While placed high on a state level, Garcia-Silver is ranked seventh in a district that includes two of the top teams in the state with Ashland and Crater.
The top five individuals in the district meet qualify for state, but Garcia-Silver's better chance to make it is for North Bend to take one of the four team berths for state. Based on season-best times, North Bend is projected at fourth place and 135 points, just ahead of fifth-place Thurston at 138 points.
“It’s going to be whoever is ready to run a race on that day will get that fourth spot,” said North Bend head coach David Bailey. “We’re gearing up for this coming Wednesday. I’m not planning for the state meet, where other teams are thinking of how fresh will we be for the state meet, we’re pulling it all in for the district meet.”
Also fighting for every last point will be the North Bend girls. Led by Celeste Sinko with a season-best time of 20:35, the Bulldogs are also projected to finish fourth with 117 points. Springfield is right behind North Bend with 124 points and Thurston not far after with 131.
“I just want to see a strong finish so that I can support my teammates and see if we can get to state,” said Sinko. “We’re kind of coming along, last race we showed a lot of improvement.”
Racing at LCC on Thursday in the Sky-Em League will be Marshfield. With Marist Catholic and Siuslaw both ranked as top six teams in the state and the league only getting two bids to state, it would be a near-impossible task for the Pirates to vault from third into one of the teams advancing to the state meet.
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But individually, Marshfield’s Aaron Prince has the fifth fastest time in league, which would earn him a trip back to LCC for the state meet.
“I feel confident that I’ll make it to state. It should be a good race,” said Prince who has finished 30 seconds better than the sixth-ranked runner. “I feel like I’m sitting in a good spot so I’m going to go out and run my race.”
The Marshfield girls, also ranked third in the Sky-Em, are in a similarly tough situation as the Marist Catholic girls are ranked No. 1 in state while Siuslaw is at No. 2. With no easy-road to state, Marshfield’s Kaylee Delzotti is sitting at 10th in the competitive league.
“I just want to feel good about myself in the end, feel confident. End my high school career on a good note,” said Delzotti, who is looking to break 20 minutes for the first time this season.
On Tuesday local racers from Class 2A and 1A will be running at the District 4 league championship at LCC.
Currently ranked first in league, and fourth in state, are the Bandon boys who have 12 of the top 20 runners in the district. Leading the way for the Tigers are seniors Isaac Cutler at 16 minutes 48 seconds and Aero Franklin at 17:17. Cutler is ranked 10th in the 2A/1A classification.
While the Bandon team is projected to finish with a crisp 21 points, South Coast athletes hoping to finish in the top five and qualify for state as individuals are Myrtle Point's Aidan Lilienthal and Coquille's Garrett Baird.
For the District 4 girls, it is a battle between Lakeview and Bandon for the team title. Based on personal best times, Lakeview is projected at 34 points while Bandon is at 41. Both teams have their stamp on the district combining for seven of the top 13 runners in the field.
Bandon’s top runner, Holly Hutton at 20:05, will be chasing Lakeview’s Ella Villagrana who has the top 2A/1A time in the state this year at 19:42. Coquille's Allison Storts is hoping to qualify for state for the second straight year.