|9/5/2017 12:14:00 PM|
XC teams look to lead league again
|Senior Anna Bartlett returns for her final season with the Outlaws. photo by Charlie Kanzig|
By Charlie KanzigThe Outlaws cross-country teams have consistently sent teams to the state meet for most of the last two decades. They look to continue that trend during the 2017 campaign.
For the boys team, that will mean a big turnaround from last year, while the girls appear to be the favorites to win the Sky-Em title once again.
Returning from last year's trophy team is senior Anna Bartlett, who won the district race and went on to finish 10th at the state meet where the team finished fourth. Also back from that varsity squad are Tate Ricker, Amy Hills, and Engracia Diez, each of whom placed in the top 11 at the district meet last year.
Time will tell who will compose this year's top seven, according to head Coach Josh Nordell, in his fifth year as head coach of the program.
"We have a good turnout of new and returning girls, but it's way too early to make any predictions about how the team will develop specifically," he said.
Following last year's uncharacteristic fifth-place finish at district, the boys are a question mark in 2017, but Nordell sees tremendous potential for a significant turnaround that might rely heavily on
Leading the charge will be defending Sky-Em champion Jordan Pollard, a senior, who had a stellar track season in the spring where he placed fifth at state in the 3,000 meters and appears as strong as ever, according to Nordell.
"He is among the top 10 returning 4A runners," said Nordell.
Another senior, Cole Pade, who has struggled with lower-leg injuries the past two seasons, is an integral part of the Outlaws' success, according to Nordell.
"Cole is tough, and if he can run relatively pain-free he will be a big factor for us," said Nordell.
Sophomore Josh Liddell placed 14th at district last year as a freshman, which bodes well for the team this season.
The question mark for the team will be who else rises up to contribute at the varsity level from a roster that includes fifteen new team members, nine of whom are freshmen.
"We're excited to see how the team progresses once we get out of the smoky conditions and into the competitive season," said Nordell.
Cottage Grove won the league title last year by just three points in a very tight team race among the top four squads, and appears to be the pre-season favorite based on returnees, but again, Nordell believes it's way too early to make any accurate predictions.
"We'll know a lot more by October," he said.
The Outlaws are scheduled to host a six-team meet at Sisters High School on Friday, September 8, provided air quality improves by then. Teams from Cottage Grove, Bend, Culver, Kennedy, and La Pine will traverse the forested, and dusty, trails behind the high school beginning with the girls race at 4:45 p.m.
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