by: Matthew Sherman, 
Lake Oswego’s Tate Murray, left, turned in possibly her best effort of the year as she registered a seventh-place finish at last weekend’s state cross-country meet. With Murray’s help, the Laker girls finished fourth as a team to claim their first-ever team trophy.

The Lake Oswego girls cross-country team was busy taking down its tent and getting ready to hop back on the bus for the ride back to Portland last Saturday when it heard the team name announced over the loudspeaker.

With confused looks, the Lakers went to the scoring table to figure out what was needed from them. It turns out, they were needed to accept the trophy that they won.

'We had no idea. Realistically, we were hoping for a top-10. It was funny. We were at the table and went 'Are you sure?' We were looking around and laughing because we weren't supposed to be here,' coach Eric Lider said.

Lake Oswego finished fourth in the state, earning their first trophy in girls cross-country in the history of the program. The team beat out Gresham for the final trophy by just two points, meaning that every single competitor was crucially important to the effort.

The Lakers were paced by sophomore Tate Murray who had, arguably, the best race of her career.

Murray equaled her personal-best time of 18:53 on what turned out to be an exceedingly slow course. As a result, her effort was good enough for seventh place overall.

'This exceeded my expectations completely. I had no idea I was even capable of a top-10,' Murray said. 'With about 300 meters to go I thought that if I kick, I can do this,' Murray said.

But Murray's finish was far from the only impressive race turned in by the Lakers. Freshman Latane Cox took 22nd overall with a solid time of 19:42.

She was followed by Lauren Ohlson in 39th with a time of 20:03, her third fastest time of the year. She was also just two places behind rival West Linn's top runner.

'Everybody was solid and about at the level they should have run,' Lider said.

Heading into the meet, one of the team's goals was to finish ahead of the Lions, who had nipped the Lakers at the district race. And Lake Oswego accomplished that goal convincingly, finishing 33 points ahead of seventh place West Linn as a team.

'I'm still floating. I told the kids, I've been waiting 20 years for this. We had 25 other kids come down to support the teams. It's a credit to the whole program,' Lider said.

But the team trophy would be won by how well the team's fourth and fifth runners could finish.

Erin Yaylali matched her best time of the season as well, turning in a time of 21:31. Kathleen Preston took fifth for the Lakers with a solid 21:40. But, most impressively, each of Lake Oswego last three runners made multiple passes in the race's final 300 meters to pick up valuable points.

'How we did on the track really reflected how much the team wanted it,' Lider said.

It was a terrific afternoon for the Lakers who could be a factor in the state meet for years to come. Only Ohlson will graduate from this year's squad, giving Lake Oswego a talented core heading into the 2008 season.

In the boys race, Elijah Greer ran close to his best time of the year, turning in a 16:19 to take 15th place overall and fourth among Three Rivers League qualifiers.

'I think Elijah had a good race. Finishing that high is terrific,' Lider said.

Greer, a junior, will also return for the Lakers.

For Lakeridge, Dave Marks had a tough race and had hoped for a top-10 finish but narrowly missed that goal.

Marks started out at the front of the pack, which opened up with a quick pace. He ended up taking 12th overall in a time of 16:14.

'I felt like I was in fifth gear. I tried to stay in front for as long as I could but at about two miles they pulled away and I was left in no man's land,' Marks said.

Teammate Alex Anderson was 34th overall and was just 10 seconds off of his best time of the season. He finished in 16:42, which matched his second-best time of the year.

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