by: Vern Uyetake, Lakeridge’s Dave Marks cruises down the home stretch en route to his district cross-country title last Wednesday. Marks barely missed out on an individual title last year but he amends this season. Lakeridge teammate Alex Anderson also qualified for a trip to state, as did Lake Oswego’s Elijah Greer.

The boys district cross-country race featured some stellar individual performances by Lakeridge and a tough pill to swallow for Lake Oswego. While virtually everyone on the Pacers' and Lakers' teams ran very solid races, they each finished behind Clackamas and West Linn for the two team berths at state.

Lake Oswego actually tied with the Lions but lost the sixth-runner tiebreaker.

But three Lake Oswegans will still be making the trip to Eugene on Saturday.

Dave Marks continued his stellar season and made up for barely missing out on the district title last year with a dominating performance. He won the race by nearly six seconds over his closest competitor.

'My goal was to push the pace and then kick it in for the last 1,000 meters,' Marks said.

Marks was practically a shoe-in to make it to state but had a league title in his sights from the beginning of the year.

'I definitely wanted it after missing out by less than a meter last year,' Marks said.

His time was the third fastest of his high school career. Heading into Saturday's race, Marks has high hopes to be right alongside the state's best.

'Hopefully I can stay up front as long as possible and finish in the top three,' Marks said.

And he won't be alone this year. Teammate Alex Anderson finished in seventh place overall and qualified for state individually. Anderson turned in the best race of his career, beating his personal best time by nine seconds.

'That was his race of the year. He had had some good practices and to qualify as a junior is terrific,' Pacer coach Ken James said.

Rishi Rikhi ran his second-best time of the year to take 16th place for the Pacers and Cole Flora and Seth Troisi rounded out the Pacers' top five.

Meanwhile, Lake Oswego knew it would likely be an extremely close battle to finish in the top two as a team and when the race was over, coaches were sent scrambling to do the math.

'We knew that every single place was probably going to make a difference,' Laker coach Eric Lider said.

The Lakers finished in a dead heat with West Linn but the Lions are an extremely deep team and their sixth place runner finished ahead of Lake Oswego's to earn the tiebreaker.

Elijah Greer was the first Laker across the finish line, taking fifth place and nearly earning a personal best time. He will be Lake Oswego's lone representative at the state meet.

'Fifth wasn't my ideal place but I thought I finished strong,' Greer said.

Chris Caldwell placed in the top-10 for Lake Oswego and he was followed closely by Sean Johnson and Alex Martin in 12th and 13th place, respectively.

Johnson in particular had a tremendous outing, shattering his career best time by 26 seconds to earn his finish.

If the Lakers did end up topping West Linn, however, the effort of Issac Hayden probably would have been hard to ignore.

'The whole team stepped up. If we were going to state it's because of every guy's effort,' Greer said.

Coming down the stretch, Hayden knew how important each placing would be. In the final 100 meters he passed two runners, including one from West Linn en route to the best time of his career.

'Issac ran on pure heart,' Lider said.

It was nearly enough to propel his team to state. Hayden and Greer will return for Lake Oswego next season.

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