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District Cross Country

LO's Murray repeats as Laker girls take 2nd, Bartz is 8th
by: VERN UYETAKE, Lakeridge’s Kelly Bartz took eighth place at districts to earn a trip to state.

Things went according to form at the front of the girls district cross country race last week. Tate Murray overcame a slow start with a terrific finish and turned what could have been an exciting conclusion into a runaway.

Her time of 18:43.86 was her second best time of the year and was good enough to win her second district cross country title. It was also the second fastest time ever run by a Laker girl at districts.

'I've really learned this year that for me it's not physical, it's mental and I just needed to get that thought out my head that I was tired and once I did that I almost made up my entire time when I was 10 or 20 seconds behind,' Murray said.

Murray, who took seventh at state last year, ended up beating her closest competitor, Milwaukie's Erin McLaughlin by 25 seconds.

After Murray's breakthrough race at the Adidas Invite last year she proved to herself that she can compete with the state's elite runners and is hopeful that she can improve upon her top-seven finish last year.

'I just want to run my hardest and hopefully run what I did at Adidas if not set a PR,' Murray said.

The surprises in the race happened just a few minutes later when one Laker runner after another crossed the finish line by setting a new PR or coming close to it.

As a result, the Laker girls came away with an upset second-place finish and qualified for state.

'I'm still shaking my head. We came in as a solid fourth place and our girls just ran tough. They put it together and ran like veterans,' Laker coach Eric Lider said.

And the biggest surprise might not have been that the Lakers finished in second behind West Linn but rather with how easily they did it. Lake Oswego finished a comfortable 12 points ahead of third-place Clackamas.

Lake Oswego's second through fifth runners ran well as a team and that made the difference in the race.

Jocelyn Aguilar and Sarah Morse finished back-to-back in 14th and 15th and were just two seconds apart.

Morse ran a personal best time by over 20 seconds in the race while Aguilar, a freshman, ran her second best time of the year.

Also finishing back-to-back for the Lakers were Emily Hoard and Molly Ponkevitch in 20th and 21st.

'Emily wasn't feeling well and nearly dropped out. She ran that last part on pure guts,' Lider said. Ponkevitch shattered her PR by 42 seconds and cracking 22 minutes for the first time in her career.

The Lakeridge girls took fourth place at the meet, eight points behind Clackamas.

The highlight for the Pacers was Bartz's eighth place finish which earned the junior a trip to state for the first time.

'Kelly ran right where we thought she would. It was a really solid race for her,' Pacer coach Ken James said.

Narrowly missing out was fellow junior Zoe Newman who took 13th, just one spot out of the running. She finished in 21:27.07, a mere second behind 12th place.

However, Newman's time was the best of the year and only a few seconds away from her PR.

Senior Sydney Baker took 19th overall and ran her best time of the year in the process.

Kayla Al-Khaledy, Kathleen Preston, Allison Heymann and Abby Poindexter all cracked the top 20 for the Pacers.