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Lions send two runners to state meet

by: VERN UYETAKE Connor Cushman also posted a PR in the boys race, taking eighth individually to qualify for state.

West Linn will send one boy and one girl to this weekend's state cross country meet in Eugene. Both Connor Cushman and Rebecca Donnelly finished eighth in their respective races and each set new career-best times in the process.

Donnelly had made it a goal to reach the state meet at the beginning of the season. She missed all of last year with an injury and was determined to have a solid junior year.

"Last season I really didn't run at all so that was motivation for me this year," Donnelly said.

Donnelly improved her time in every race this season, culminating with a finish of 20:30.46 at Clackamas Community last week, beating her previous fastest mark by more then 20 seconds.

"It was nice because she started out this season a little injured too and she's been on a nice, steady progression," West Linn coach Jay Schrotzberger said.

Donnelly led West Linn's pack early on in the race but then broke free trying to keep pace with a strong trio from Grant.

Lakeridge's two frontrunners, Kelly O'Neil and Lia Newman easily outdistanced the field but Donnelly stayed with the lead pack and new she was in good shape heading into the final 400 meters.

"My goal was just to get to state. I knew the Grant girls would be right there and I figured I was probably in the top 20, I just didn't know where," Donnelly said.

Leah Henningsen was next for the Lions in the girls race, finishing in 21 minutes flat.

Freshman Hanna Morford was third for West Linn, taking 22nd overall and lopping off more than 20 seconds from her previous fastest time.

Cailin Guerins was right behind Morford, narrowly missing a career-best time and she was closely followed by Ellie Clow and Julia Boyd-Helm.

As a team West Linn finished in fourth place just eight points behind third-place Canby.

"We thought we had a chance of catching Lakeridge but when they went 1-2 it meant everyone would have to run a perfect race," Schrotzberger said.

West Linn's boys team finished in fifth place led by Cushman's terrific race.

It was a crowded front pack and Cushman hung with the league's best.

He ran a very consistent race, not getting caught up in an early fast pace while never letting the leaders get too far ahead.

Cushman hit the track in stride and would finish with his best-ever time by eight seconds.

"Connor really ran well. He knew the guys he wanted to stay with and had a really strong race," Schrotzberger said.

Dillon George was next for the Lions in 23rd and Tyler Griffin was just three seconds behind, narrowly missing a career-best race.

Derek Fieldhouse finished right behind Griffin and equaled his best-ever time.

Trevor Hammock rounded out the Lions' top-five finishers and turned in the team's best race of the afternoon, beating his previous best time by more than 30 seconds.

Braden Krellwitz and John Goetze also turned in career best times for West Linn.

In all, after graduating an enormous senior class of boys and girls last year, the Lions put together a solid season and should be set up well next fall.

"Everyone seemed to have a really good time this year. We wanted to have a lot of fun which is important because that's what keeps the kids coming back," Schrotzberger said.

The state meet will be this Saturday at Lane Community College with 6A races beginning at 2 p.m.