by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Tate Murray, above right, looks to position herself early in last week’s district cross-country meet. Murray wound up winning the race while teammate Latane Cox finished second. As a team, the Lakers were a close second behind first-place West Linn.

The West Linn and Lake Oswego girls cross-country teams have built up quite a rivalry over the past few years. And, for the second straight season, the Lions barely edged out the Lakers in last week's district race, finishing ahead of them by a single point.

But every member of Lake Oswego's team turned in a solid race and the Lakers finished in second overall, qualifying for this Saturday's state meet.

Lake Oswego was paced by its top two runners, Tate Murray and Latane Cox. The pair helped each other through the cold and wet conditions and ended up taking first and second place, respectively.

'I was just going to see how I felt and follow my instincts. I'm happy with how it turned out,' Murray said.

Murray wasn't challenged in the race, winning it by 18 seconds. Cox placed five seconds ahead of her nearest competitor for second place. It also marked a personal best time for Cox.

'We knew the potential was there (to finish first and second). Tate ran a great race and Latane just keeps getting better and better,' Laker coach Eric Lider said.

The one-two punch seemed to bode well for Lake Oswego, which was hoping to dethrone West Linn as the two-time defending league champions.

Lauren Ohlson finished in seventh place overall with her second fastest time of the year.

'We had some team meetings and I know every girl on this team did their very best today,' Murray said.

But then West Linn's team depth kicked in. The Lions had four runners cross the finish line before the Lakers' fourth runner.

Emily Fuller came in 18th place, knocking 10 seconds off her best time of the year. She was followed by Erin Yaylali in 23rd place, who ran her second fastest time of the year.

Those heroics were almost enough to knock off the Lions. It is always easy to look and see where another point could have been made up, but the Lakers couldn't find much to complain about with nearly everyone running as well or better than they were expected to.

'There weren't any disappointments. We ran pretty much how we were supposed to. It was going to be a two-team race and West Linn was just a notch ahead of us,' Lider said.

The team will travel to Lane Community College for the state meet this Saturday and will look for a top-10 finish. Ironically, according to hypothetical times, Lake Oswego is predicted to finish in 11th place in an exact tie with West Linn.

'We're all really excited for state and hopefully we'll beat West Linn there,' Murray said.

For Lakeridge, the young team gained some valuable experience at districts and turned in some nice individual times. The team finished fourth just behind Clackamas for third place.

'I felt like we could have finished third but we ran very well as a team,' Pacer coach Ken James said.

Kelly Bartz was the top Pacer, finishing in 11th place overall, topping her best time of the year by 12 seconds. Zoe Newman took 19th with her best time of the year and Sydney Baker took 27th.

Jenna Conan, Chloe Block and Annie Misell all finished in a pack and Cassie Loren rounded out the field for the Pacers. But the team is already looking forward to next year when they will return all of their top runners.

'The league is losing a lot of good runners and we have everyone coming back. We're really excited,' James said.

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