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Milwaukies Gonzalez third at district


The Mustang senior holds her own with the best in the NWOC

by: DAN BROOD - Milwaukie senior Sasha Gonzalez manages a smile as she heads towards the finish line at last weeks Northwest Oregon Conference District Cross Country Championships. Gonzalez qualified for state with a top 3 finish in the 48-runner district meet field. Gonzalez finished the 5,000-meter Blue Lake Park course in 19:10, an improvement of 42 seconds over a year ago, when she finished fourth.Milwaukie High School senior Sasha Gonzalez is fast proving herself one of the top Class 5A high school distance runners in the state.

Gonzalez was in top form last week, when she raced to a 19:10.2 clocking over the 5,000-meter Northwest Oregon Conference District Championships course at Blue Lake Park.

Gonzalez’ time earned her third place in the 48-runner varsity field. Her time was a 42-second improvement over the 2011 district meet, where she placed fourth.

And Gonzalez is closing in on the NWOC’s top runners, Wilsonville junior Taryn Rawlings and Liberty freshman Rachel Khaw, who rank fifth and ninth in the state respectively.

“Sasha ran a really solid race,” said Milwaukie coach Jen Seibel. “She ran out front, with Taryn and Rachel until the final 600 meters....

“Sasha’s goal is to get on the podium at state, and I think she’s got a shot. The state-meet course is challenging, with a lot of hills. But Sasha’s been at state before and she does good on hills. She’s one of the better hill racers we’ve had at Milwaukie.”

Rawlings and Khaw were clocked at 18:47.5 and 18:53 respectively at last week’s district meet. Rawlings ran the district meet course in 19:28 last year and she went on to place 10th at state.

Gonzalez wasn’t the only local runner to qualify for this coming Saturday’s Class 5A State Championship Meet. Putnam senior Kelsey Hilsenteger placed fourth at district with a 19:28 clocking, and she’ll make the trip to state for the third straight year.

“Kelsey’s been getting a little better each race [this season] and I think she still has more in her tank,” Putnam coach Brent Eggers said of Hilsenteger, who placed ninth at state as a sophomore and 15th at state last fall.

Milwaukie had another strong finisher in junior Becky Ponnay, who placed 11th, in 20:31.3. Her time was a 15-second PR.

Sherwood (41 points) and Liberty (78 points) were the top two girls teams at this year’s NWOC district meet; Wilsonville (21 points) ran away with the boys meet, topping the runner-up St. Helens Lions (80) by 59 points.

Junior Nik Walters paced Putnam’s youthful boys team, completing the district meet course in 17:51, a 37-second PR, and placing 27th. Junior Chris Spanovich led Milwaukie boys, racing to a 17:37 clocking, good for 21st place.