Opportunities abound for program that lost 35 seniors

Photo Credit: VERN UYETAKE - Dulcie Jones was Lake Oswego's top finisher at districts for the girls team last year and she returns to a strong squad that hopes to qualify for state. Lake Oswego's cross-country program graduated 35 seniors last year which has left plenty of opportunities for younger runners to fill the void.

The Laker girls team hopes to contend for a spot at state this year in the new Three Rivers League. Each league will receive three team berths but perennial state title contender St. Mary's joins the TRL this year.

“That pretty much just leaves two spots for the rest of us,” coach Eric Lider said.

The girls team is deep this season and figures to be led by Dulcie Jones, last year's top finisher for the Lakers at districts.

Lake Oswego has a few returners who are currently dealing with nagging injuries but, when the team is at full strength, it could be formidable.

“We might not have the girls or two who's going to win every race. It will be more of a pack mentality this year,” Lider said.

Emma Smith and Amy Moring should also be among the team's top runners along with Katy Howells, June Pauly and Grace David, a promising freshman.

Sarah Tucker and Heidi Dufek also have experience racing but are coming off injuries.

Lider also mentioned Kendra Jackson, Jenny Kwon and Nicole O'Brien as all having the potential to challenge for varsity spots.

Lider noted that this year's team is already better conditioned heading into the season.

“We give out t-shirts for kids who have run 100 and 200 miles over the summer. Last year we gave out two or three and this year I think we gave out close to 10 for 200 miles and another 10 for 100 miles,” Lider said.

For the boys, Linn Rising returns for Lake Oswego. He was second for the Lakers at districts last year. Jack Southworth should also be a strong contributor along with Cole Nichols, Nick Gadenis and Doug Heymann, a freshman who should also be a standout on the swim team this year.

Lider also expects a handful of other challengers will step up as the season progresses.

“There will probably be a lot of changes to the roster as we get close to districts. There's definitely opportunities for kids to step up,” Lider said.

The Laker Run was held on Wednesday and the team will race at Tualatin next week to start the season.

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