In the final OSAA coaches’ poll of the season, the Sisters Outlaws boys cross-country team was not listed in the top 10.

So how then did it turn out that the group finished second at the OSAA State 4A Championships on Saturday, November 6 at Lane Community College?

“All season long we told the kids that our tight pack and teamwork would prevail over teams that didn’t have the depth that we have,” said Coach Charlie Kanzig. “Even the morning of the race we reminded them that ‘Team is the Theme.’”

Even so, no one — including Kanzig — could have predicted a second place finish, which matched the highest team finish in boys cross-country in school history.

“I felt confident we could be in the hunt for a trophy — probably fourth, maybe third — but as things turned out our guys ran as a group and even moved up over the final mile to inch into second place,” Kanzig said.

For senior Kaleb Briggs, who ran a personal best, the result produced tears of joy.

“It’s crazy to see what this team did, which proves that we can do anything we put our hearts into,” he said. “Even when not many people expected us to get a trophy we kept on going.”

Juniors Hayden Roth (17:33) and Cole Jervis (17:34) ran together throughout the race, and finished 17th and 18th respectively. Briggs was close behind in 20th (17:44), while senior Max Palanuk (18:12) and freshman Spencer Tisdel (18:32) placed 29th and 36th to complete the scoring.

Freshmen Cole Middlestetter and George Roberts finished in 19:32 and 19:34 respectively.

Once the individual runners were removed from the scoring, the Outlaws points were 11, 12, 14, 22, and 29.

“I had hoped before the race our top five would be between 15 and 35, so they actually hit above that mark,” said Kanzig.

Siuslaw, the heavy favorite and defending state champion, won easily with 42 points. Sisters scored 88 to edge Cottage Grove and Valley Catholic, who each scored 93. Cottage Grove placed third based on the tiebreaker of the sixth runner.

Philomath, who beat the Outlaws for the District title last week, ran without their lead runner and finished a distant seventh.

Kanzig appreciated the leadership of the two seniors on the State trophy team.

“Kaleb and Max did such a great job of leading our relatively young team both in and out of practice and were a steadying force on race days,” said Kanzig. “Of the other trophy teams, five freshmen ran and three of them were Outlaws.”

Dennis Dempsey, a longtime volunteer coach for the program said, “It was sure fun to watch the boys team exceed their own expectations and their finish should be a catalyst for the returning runners. The team leaders really set the tone all season and helped continue the great tradition of cross-country at Sisters High.”