It’s not every week a team gets to race against the No. 1-ranked team in the United States, but that is where Sisters Outlaws’s girls cross-country team found themselves, toeing the line along with 15 other teams with the Summit Storm at the Oxford Classic held Friday, October 4 at Drake Park in Bend.

For Ella Thorsett, the speedy freshman for the Outlaws, it was a chance to rub elbows with some very talented girls.

“Ella wanted to see how many of the Summit girls she could beat,” said Head Coach Josh Nordell.

Thorsett mixed it up with the top runners, ultimately finishing eighth overall, ahead of two of the Summit runners, who scored a nearly perfect 16 points to win the meet handily. Bend High was second with 95 points and North Medford finished third with 137. Sisters placed tenth among seventeen complete teams with 274 points.

Fiona Max of Summit pulled away from the rest of the field over the second half of the race to win in 18:00 as one of four Summit girls in the top five. Thorsett battled bravely and crossed the line in 19:07.

“This race was good for Ella on a number of levels,” said Nordell. “We were without Kate Bowen, so Ella had to key off of other runners and make decisions all through the race, and I thought she showed a lot of toughness.”

The Outlaws ran with just six runners, and two set personal records in the meet, which is rare due to the relative slowness of the course compared to others the Outlaws have run this year.

Emma Singleton came through as the second Outlaw runner in 21:24 to place 31st among 117 finishers.

Pearl Gregg clocked her season best (23:21), Sadie Sharp (23:29) and Skylar Wilkins (24:38) ran career bests, and Iris Diez ran 24:44,  as the Outlaws continue to move toward being competitive as possible as they prepare for the District meet November 2.

“The progression I am seeing with these girls is right on,” said Nordell. “They know what they need to do for us to successfully defend our district title from last year.”

The junior varsity runners are also showing progress, according to Nordell. Sasha Stolasz, Annie Cohen, Chloe Gold, Makenzie French, and Quinlan Crowe all competed in the meet.

“The girls are continually working to improve,” he said.

Up next for the Outlaws girls is the Paul Mariman Invitational scheduled for Saturday, October 12, at Philomath High School. The meet includes 27 teams and features some of the best 4A/3A/2A/1A runners in Oregon.

“It will be good for us to go up against schools more similar in size to us after the past three weeks of facing schools from larger classifications,” said Nordell. “This meet will help us be more ready for District and State.”