Hillsboro’s Lykins working to crack 19-minute mark


Last summer, Hillsboro junior cross country runner Lauren Lykins made a decision that she was going to step up her training and find out how good she could be.

During her first two seasons as a varsity runner for the Spartans, Lykins had already tasted success.

As a freshman, she qualified for the state meet by taking fifth place in the Pacific Conference district championships with a time of 19 minutes, 32 seconds. Lykins finished in sixth place at the state meet that year with a time of 21:05.

Her sophomore season, Lykins again qualified for the state meet by taking sixth place at districts with a time of 20:19. That year she took 72nd place at the state meet with a time of 21:29.

Lykins spent the summer logging as many miles as she could. Hillsboro coach Bill Kaemmer estimates that she completed between 350 and 400 miles.

“This year was a step up for her,” Kaemmer said. “She’s always been a natural athlete. She’s always been very steady. But, this year she ran all summer. She did 300 miles this summer and really made a big commitment to becoming a stronger runner.”

The hard work paid off for Lykins and turned her into one of the strongest runners in the Pacific Conference.

Lykins won three races this season: a dual meet with Century (21:04), the Warner Pacific Open (19:44) and the double dual meet with Glencoe and Forest Grove (19:53). She also took second place twice: a double dual meet with McMinnville and Tualatin (20:49) and a double dual meet with Newberg and Tigard (20:54). Lykins also finished 16th at the prestigious New Balance Festival of Champions (21:98).

All season, Lykins had just one number in her mind. She wanted to run under 19 minutes.

Lykins thought that opportunity would come at the 2012 district meet. While she ran well and finished in third place to once again qualify for the state meet, Lykins was upset with her time of 20:21.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the time I ran,” Lykins told the Hillsboro Tribune after the race.

Lykins admitted that it was going to be difficult to go under 19 minutes on the challenging state cross country course at Lane Community College, especially with only a week to train before the race. During the days leading up to the race, Lykins tried to train smart rather than hard.

“I couldn’t do any more hard physical workouts,” Lykins said. “I just did some speed workouts so that I could try to get mentally prepared.”

After running in the state meet the past two years, Lykins felt confident heading into the race on Nov. 3. She still had some butterflies, though.

“I was more confident (than in past years),” Lykins said. “I was still really nervous for it, though, because I know that there’s a lot of good runners in Oregon.”

Lykins missed going under 19 minutes, finishing the race in 46th place with a time of 20:35. But, she was proud of herself for running a personal best on the course.

”I did not run the time that I wanted to run,” Lykins said. “But, I did run a course PR, so I was satisfied with it.”

In the same race, Glencoe senior Rachel Gibbs finished in 48th place with a time of 20:35. On the boys side, Glencoe junior Mason Rouches finished in 46th place with a time of 17:00.

While she says that she was satisfied rather than happy with her time, Lykins was proud to represent the Spartans at the state meet.

“I love representing Hilhi,” Lykins said. “I wish that some more girls could have come with me, but I was glad to do it.”

Lykins is now shifting her focus toward basketball, but she plans to continue to train for cross country throughout the rest of this year in the hopes of finally achieving that elusive 19-minute mark.

“My goal is under 19,” Lykins said. “I think that’s doable.”

Kaemmer believes that with the training Lykins will do this offseason, she is ready to have a very good senior season.

“She’s going to make a big jump next year,” Kaemmer said. “She realizes that building that base is really important. She does everything right.

“She’s a good kid and works hard all the time. I expect her to get better next year.”

Liberty girls surprise by finishing 10th at Class 5A state meet

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO BY ZACK PALMER - Liberty freshman Rachel Khaw runs at the Class 5A state cross country meet on Nov. 3 at Lane Community College. Khaw finished 10th overall with a time of 19:35, and she led the Falcons to a 10th-place team finish, two spots higher than predicted.

It all depends on what your definition of a miracle is, but the Liberty girls cross country team pulled off something darn close to a miracle to qualify for the OSAA Class 5A state cross country meet.

All season, Liberty coach David Douglas thought that the Falcon girls were going to finish third in the Northwest Oregon Conference behind Wilsonville and Sherwood.

“All through the season we knew our team was going to be third,” Douglas said. “It looked like Sherwood and Wilsonville were just a little bit out of reach.”

As the season drew to a close, though, Douglas began reassessing things.

“I started looking at things and I said, ‘You know, if someone has a bad day and we have a good day, you never know.’ We started talking like that.”

Liberty senior Isabelle Cisco was instrumental in the team’s change of focus. She rallied the team and helped everyone start to believe that a trip to the state meet was possible.

“Isabelle Cisco really took it to heart,” Douglas said. “Ten days out, we said, ‘It’s ten days until districts, we’re going to focus, we’re going to really put our heads down and start thinking about the possibility of qualifying.’ They came to practice ready to go.”

Still, Douglas knew that qualifying for state was going to be an uphill battle.

“It was kind of a long shot,” he said. “A lot of things had to happen.”

A lot of things did happen at the meet on Oct. 24.

When the district meet ended, Douglas sat down with the coach of Wilsonville. Together they added up the totals and found out that Liberty and Wilsonville were tied with 79 points each. With a faster sixth-place runner, Wilsonville was slated to earn the right to go to the state meet.

Douglas found his team and delivered a conciliation speech.

“I told the girls, ‘Nice try, you had a good meet, but it looks like we ended up in a tie,’” Douglas said.

Then came the miracle.

It was learned that Parkrose did not compete with a full team. Because of that, a Parkrose runner’s results were eliminated from the totals, which bumped the Falcons to 78 points — one point ahead of Wilsonville — giving Liberty a second-place finish behind Sherwood and a chance to go to the state meet.

“You never know what is going to happen at districts,” Douglas said.

Heading into the state championship meet on Nov. 3 in Eugene, Liberty was the slowest of the 12 teams competing. Douglas gave his team a goal of taking 10th place.

That was exactly what Liberty did. The Falcons finished with 235 points, ahead of Marshfield and Franklin.

“We exceeded what we thought we would do,” Douglas said. “When you looked at it on paper, we should’ve finished 12th, as far as our best results compared to everybody else’s best results. But, the girls did better than we thought we would. We set our goal for our first time there at 10th and they attained that.”

Freshman Rachel Khaw paced Liberty by individually finishing in 10th place with a time of 19 minutes, 35 seconds.

“Rachel is actually a soccer girl,” Douglas said. “I only had her two mornings a week. She’s kind of this untapped potential. If she wants to continue running, she has a really bright future because she’s a varsity soccer player and played soccer all week long.

“I’d meet her at 7 a.m. and we’d run for 45 minutes two days a week, then she would come and race with us. That was the extent of our training this year.”

Cisco came in 38th place with a time of 21:02.

“She had taken a year off to focus on soccer last year and then she came back,” Douglas said of Cisco. “She didn’t run the same type of times that she ran her sophomore year, but she was a solid leader on our team.

“She got the girls together, she got them believing that they could do this. If she had not been able to pull those girls together and get them to believe that we could qualify for state, we wouldn’t have made it.”

Sophomore Alexanna Fisher came in 62nd place with a time of 22:06.

“She’s a sophomore who improved huge amounts,” Douglas said. “She had a PR of over a minute during the season. She skipped the 22-minute range and went into the 21-minute range. She had a good season. She has a really bright future. We’re hoping that she is going to take Isabelle’s place next year in terms of the type of times (Cisco) ran this year.

Junior Kiley Bonin came in 71st place with a time of 22:31.

“This was Kiley’s first year of cross country,” Douglas said. “She’s still learning the sport. She ran track last year, but this is her first cross country season with us. She was a really solid, really consistent runner. We could always rely on her performance.”

Junior Megan Rose came in 85th place with a time of 23:47.

“She battled through some injuries really well this year,” Douglas said. “She ran really well for us this year even though she had a few injury situations. She kept a really positive attitude and just kept working until she got back into shape again.”

Freshman Sydney Rose came in 87th place with a time of 24:17.

“She was kind of our deer in the headlights girl,” Douglas said. “When she stepped into the program in August, she didn’t really know what she was getting into. But she just kept working hard at it, learning when we went along there. She really improved.

“I hope that she’s going to learn to believe in herself and that she can do this. She has some confidence issues as to how good she can be at times and we’ll work at it over time.”

Senior Raquel Escalera came in 91st place with a time of 25:26.

“She has been one of those girls that was out there for a year or two and was just a hard worker,” Douglas said. “She had some injury issues and she tried to battle through her injuries. We ran her at the JV meet in districts and she wound up being good enough to be on the team that qualified for state.”

By making the state tournament and then taking 10th place, the Falcons proved to Douglas that what it says about runners on paper is far less important than how they compete on the course.

“They really taught me a lot this year,” Douglas said. “By putting your mind to it and starting to believe and have confidence in what you do, you can have some good results. It just takes everybody.

“I was really proud of the way they responded and competed all year long.”

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