The Valley girls team graduated four from last year, but will still compete for the District 1 crown

BEAVERTON - Valley Catholic was right there last season.

The Valiants girls cross country team ran to second place in the District 1 championship, then repeated that feat at the Class 3A/2A/1A state meet, finishing in each case behind only powerful Catlin Gabel.

And while Valley Catholic graduated four runners from that 2010 squad, the Valiants expect to be strong again this season.

'While we graduated a lot of runners from last year, this is the strongest group one through seven we've ever had,' said Valley Catholic coach Eric Berge. 'We will have a close pack and I expect the girls to challenge Catlin Gabel for the district title.'

This year's rteam will be led by its three state-meet returners, sophomore Annika Holstrom (she was fifth at district and 12th at state), junior Josephine Chau (11th at district, 65th at state) and junior Sophia Chau (9th at district, 39th at state), as well as by senior Autumn Davis.

'Josephine and Sophia Chau lead by example. They put in a lot of miles in the off-season and are both extremely fit,' Berge said, adding that Holstrom 'should be one of the top runners in the state' while Davis 'has lots of experience and is a strong leader for our younger runners.'

Sophomore Grace Mannen, sophomore Morgan McDougal and freshman Fiona Walker will also run for the Valiants this year.

'The key to success will be how our new runners perform,' Berge said. 'We have three very talented young runners joining us this year. All the newcomers have a great work ethic, and I expect a lot of improvement during the course of the season.'

Berge said that he believes Catlin Gabel's girls will once again be the team to beat in District 1 competition in 2011.

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