Just a little over a mile down the road from Run Hub, runners stood in the grass north of the South Eugene High School track on Thursday and one by one sprinted onto the red turf, their neon-colored spikes flying behind them. The school’s varsity cross country runners then ran 300 meters on the track, progressively picking up speed each 100 meters. The workout was meant to simulate the end of the course at the OSAA Cross Country State Championships, said Coach Steve Richards.
The State Championships take place Saturday at Lane Community College. South Eugene is one of many area teams competing at the meet. Other local teams that will be represented include Sheldon, Churchill, Thurston, Cottage Grove, Marist, Junction City and Creswell. South Eugene, coming off team titles at the Southwest Conference meet last week, is eyeing spots on the podium at the state meet.
Kate Bouse, a junior on the South Eugene team, will be returning to the state championships this year. She said she and her team performed well at the conference meet because they were able to successfully carry out a race plan. “We went out and I was able to lead a pack of three of our girls and a couple others, and then we had one of our girls (Madison Elmore) way out there,” Kate said Thursday after practice. “That was really great because we’d been planning it and had been planning to have the top four of five spots at districts, so we just really wanted to stick in a good group and pull each other through the whole race until the finish and beat out the other schools, and we executed that really well and I’m happy with that.” Before a race, she verbally commits to sticking with her teammates through the race. “And when we stay together in our team we’re not just settling down knowing we have one another, we’re always pushing forward,” Kate said. A senior this year, Elmore was unable to compete at the state meet last year due to injury, which left the girl’s team feeling a little lost and they ended up getting separated, Kate said. Elmore is competing this year. “This year it’s the same group of girls so we’re hoping to come together and collect at that meet,” Kate said.
Coach Richards said the team has an advantage over last year because all the runners have been to the state meet before, a sentiment that sophomore Jackson Seubert echoed. “Last year was kind of rough,” he said. “I just wasn’t used to it.” Despite running a slower race than he had hoped, Jackson said the meet was still a good experience. “Just being there as a freshman and surrounded by all the other fastest runners in the state, it was just cool to see how everything played out,” he said. Jackson hopes to run a sub 16:20 race on Saturday. “I also just want to run my race,” He said. “I’ve gotten in my head a lot this season and just getting out and running for fun is my ultimate goal I think.”
One thing’s for certain: the South Eugene runners will give it their all at the meet. “Our team has a super strong legacy,” Kate said. “And everyone goes into the sport and the season with this mentality, they already know what to expect, to expect great coaching and great training and good people all around them, so when you go in with that mentality that it’s going to be good, you make it good. So everybody is here wanting to try their best, give it their all, knowing that when they do they will get out of it more than what they came in with.”
Good luck to all the runners competing at the state meet!