The Mustangs bag their first district title in over three decades

FAIRVIEW - A determined and hard working group of runners from Milwaukie made a lot of noise at last week's Northwest Oregon Conference Cross Country Championships, upsetting the favored Sherwood Bowgirls for the district team title.

Led by senior Shannon Susbauer, who outclassed the field, Milwaukie's girls team tallied 48 team points. Sherwood finished a close second, with 52.

It's the first district championship by a Milwaukie cross country team - boys or girls - since 1979. It's also the first time Milwaukie has qualified a cross country team for state since 1988, when a Milwaukie girls team placed second in the Three Rivers League and then went on to finish seventh at state.

'I'm just really proud of all the girls,' said Milwaukie coach Jen Seibel. 'My top two girls, Shannon and Sasha [Gonzalez], both ran well. And all of the other girls had PR's. They all went out and gave it their all. They practiced hard and they raced hard, and it paid off.'

'We kind of all freaked out when they announced Sherwood in second place,' said Susbauer. 'I'd added up the points in my head and I miss-added. I told all the girls that we got second by a few points, so we weren't expecting first [when they announced the team champion].'

'The coaches knew we got first, but they didn't tell us,' said Gonzalez. 'So it was a big surprise.'

'When they announced second place and said Sherwood, we looked at each other and screamed,' said Kendall Gronvold. 'We were ecstatic, and just really proud….

'We wanted it so much, and we practiced so hard.'

'[Winning the district team title] is really exciting,' said Susbauer. 'Especially since, coming into the season, I definitely didn't expect it, or think our team would even [place in the top two and] make state.'

Susbauer's win was not unexpected and the Mustang senior took no hostages in the district championship race, pulling away from the pack early and winning the 5,000-meter girls race in 18:46.

She crossed the finish line 35 seconds in front of her nearest competition, Putnam junior Kelsey Hilsenteger. Hilsenteger qualified for state as an individual, along with defending district champion Taryn Rawlings (19:28) of Wilsonville, who placed third, and Putnam junior Maddie Makinster (19:58), who placed fifth. It was a seven-second PR for Makinster.

Rounding out Milwaukie's scoring were Gonzalez (19:52), in fourth place; Becky Ponnay (10:52), ninth; Dawn Hilley (21:26), fourteenth; and Gronvold (22:02), twentieth.

'I give the girls a lot of credit,' said Seibel. 'They trained hard, and they earned it. I'm very excited for the girls.'

Susbauer, Gonzalez, Hilsenteger and Makinster will be out to place high at the state meet, which is scheduled Saturday at Lane Community College. Susbauer and Hilsenteger placed eighth and ninth respectively at last year's Class 5A State Meet.

'I'm ranked fourth, so I really want to get top three,' said Susbauer.

Milwaukie and Putnam had only one boy qualify for state. Milwaukie senior David Santillan qualified with a fifth-place finish in the varsity boys 5,000-meter race. He was clocked at 16:42 and he crossed the finish line 38 seconds back of the winner.

Wilsonville boys tallied 27 points and finished well in front of the runner-up team from St. Helens, which scored 47.

TRL District

Oregon City and Clackamas both had athletes qualify for state with standout individual performances at the Class 6A Three Rivers League district meet, held last week at Clackamas Community College.

Oregon City junior Rachel Crawford qualified with a 19:57 clocking and a third place finish in the varsity girls race. Clackamas sophomore Kayla McNeeley (20:30) also qualified, placing seventh. Lakeridge junior Kelly O'Neill was a runaway winner, with a 5,000-meter time of 18:22.

Oregon City senior Nathan Meeker (16:13) and Clackamas senior Ciaran Smythe (16:25) placed seventh and ninth respectively at district to qualify for the Class 6A boys state meet.

Grant senior Andre Walker (15:46) set the pace.

Lakeridge (55) and Lake Oswego (61) were the top two girls teams; Grant (41) and Lakeridge (65) were the top two boys teams.

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