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Fastest in the Field

Cross country: Tualatin senior Kristin Coffman races to her first district meet title
by: DAN BROOD DOWN THE STRETCH — Tualatin senior Kristin Coffman is all alone as she nears the finish line at the Pacific Conference District Cross Country Championships. Coffman won the varsity girls race in 19:10.

OREGON CITY - After a summer of intense training, Kristin Coffman was ready - more than ready - to have a big senior cross country season.

But a push, a trip, a fall and a twisted ankle all but erased all of that summer-month training.

That left Coffman a bit devastated.

But it also made her determined.

Determined, that is, to come back strong.

She turned that determination into a championship.

Coffman, a Tualatin High School senior, seemingly getting stronger and stronger throughout the race, ran to victory at the Pacific Conference District Cross Country Championships, held last Thursday at Clackamas Community College.

'Oh my gosh. This is totally great,' Coffman said following the race. 'It's such an amazing feeling.'

Coffman will next be competing at the Class 6A state championships.

The top two teams in both the boys and varsity girls races at the district meet, as well as the top four individual finishers who are not part of the top two teams, advance to the Class 6A state championships, which will be held Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

At the state meet, Coffman will be joined by her teammate on the Timberwolf girls team, junior Alli Cross, who ran to second place in the girls race, as well as the Tualatin boys squad, which placed second in the team standings.

'I'm so looking forward to it,' Coffman said of the upcoming state meet. 'It's going to be a lot of fun.'

But, back in early September, Coffman thought her state-meet hopes had been whiped away.

'It didn't look like this was any possibility at the beginning of the season,' she said. 'I was being a dumbhead at a football game. A couple freshmen pushed me. I tripped down the stairs and twisted my ankle. I trained hard all summer, it was gone.'

She missed a few weeks of early-season races and training following the injury. And, when was able to return to action, she trained hard, but she was behind where she was. But, with persistence and determination, she seemed to get it all back - at the perfect time.

'I knew this was the time to put it all together,' she said.

And that time was last week's district meet.

Right from the start of last Thursday's varsity girls event, Coffman and Cross, who was the defending district champion, went to the front, running side-by-side most of the race.

'It's what we always do,' Coffman said. 'Oh my gosh, we really pushed each other.'

Near the two-thirds mark of the race. Coffman took the lead - and she seemed to get stronger.

'It's just human nature to try and be the best,' she said.

She ended up winning the 5,000-meter race in a time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds.

'At the finish, I heard somebody yell 'district champion,'' Coffman said. 'I was thinking 'holy crap, I can't believe it's happening.''

Cross finished second at last week's race in a time of 19:24.

'It was fun,' Cross said. 'It didn't go as good as I wanted. Last year I felt stronger, but I'm so happy for Kristin. I love her, and it's sad that she's leaving after this year.'

'I love that girl,' Coffman said of Cross. 'Now, we've each won it once. And I know she's going to be awesome next year. I'm looking forward to running with her at state. We're super heroes and I know we're going to push each other even more.'

The Tualatin girls finished in third place in the team standings at the district meet with 67 points, putting the Wolves just four points behind second-place Newberg. Forest Grove won the girls team district meet title with a score of 45.

Also for the Wolves at the district meet, junior Christine Ho was 12th at 20:45, sophomore Alyssa Fuji was 24th at 21:29, junior Kayla O'Brien was 28th at 21:42, senior Aubrey Brown was 34th at 22:09 and junior Emily Barry was 40th at 22:51.

On the boys side, Tualatin earned its state berth by placing second in the team standings with a score of 73. Forest Grove was first with a score of 42 and Tigard was third at 88.

'It was a bit of a shock,' Tualatin junior Scott Allred said. 'We've all made up gaps the last couple weeks. I'm really proud of our team.'

'It's amazing,' Tualatin senior Nathan Love said. 'We deserve this.'

Love led the way for the Wolves. He finished third, individually, with a time of 16:12. Allred, using a strong finish, placed 10th at 16:53.

Also for the Wolves, sophomore Tyler Snyder was 16th at 17:07, freshman Matthew Lovos was 20th at 17:19 and senior Dylan Moore, back from injury, was 24th at 17:24.

'He ate up so many people over the last 100 meters,' Allred said of Moore.

Tualatin freshman Bryce Haskin was 41st at 18:08 and junior Austin Hunsdon was 53rd at 18:56.

'I'm excited for state,' Allred said. 'We'll try out best. Nathan will be going for a top spot and we'll be cheering him on.'

'I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking to place high,' Love said. 'I'm really grateful to the rest of the team.'