Emily Bever, Hannah and Amanda Clarizio placed in the top-ten spots.

by: CORY MIMMS - State Champs.Molalla’s girls cross country team took first place in the 4A State Championship race on Saturday in Eugene. The team finished with 50 points and took three of the top-ten spots.

by: CORY MIMMS - Finishing among the top ten, from left to right, Hannah Clarizio, Emily Bever and Amanda Clarizio.

Before the race, Coach Sheron Farner said she was mostly worried about Phoenix and Philomath. “But if [Molalla’s girls] run like they did all season, we’ll be fine,” she said.

As they called the girls to the starting line, the rain began to pour. Spectators crowded the finish, huddled beneath umbrellas and snuggled into rain jackets. The rain didn’t dilute the crowd’s energy though.

Before the starter’s pistol echoed across the course, the rain slowed to a drizzle and then stopped completely. As if startled from the shot, dozens of geese flew overhead and the girls were off in a pack.

Almost all season, Emily Bever has been at the head of the pack. This race, she fell into third, behind Marshfield’s Shaylen Crook and Siuslaw’s Celie Mans. Bever remained in third as the miles ticked by. Behind her, Amanda and Hannah Clarizio kept pace with the rest of the top-ten runners.

However, as the runners closed in on the final 400 meters, Bever cranked up her speed. Her strides lengthened, and she overtook Mans by two seconds. Crook was too far ahead to catch, and Bever crossed the finish in second place, with a time of 18:59.

by: CORY MIMMS - Emily Bever overcame Siuslaw's Celie Mans in the last 400 meters of the race, which put Bever in second place.

“I’m really happy with the race,” Bever said, short of breath but energetic. “The team looked really good going into it, so hopefully we’ll come away with the trophy.”

The girls did just that. Hannah Clarizio finished seventh, with a time of 19:23. Amanda Clarizio took ninth, with 19:26. Audrey Bever also finished in the top 20, with 19:58.

Next in was Brianna Loughridge, crossing 30th at 20:44. Heather Lougridge zipped in less than a minute later at 21:40, taking 50th. Four spots behind her, Kayla Watkins came in at 21:58.

The main competition Farner was worried about, Phoenix, took 71 points and second place. They were followed by Siuslaw in third, with 119 points, and Philomath in fourth, with 133.

After the medals were all handed out, the girls breathed a sigh of relief. “Now I can relax a little bit,” Bever said.

Of course, Farner was happy with the win. More than that, she’s hopeful for next year, as the only girl the team graduates this year is Emily Bever. “We should have another strong team next year,” Farner said.

The girls headed home to Molalla. When they arrived, the Molalla Fire Department was there to escort them through town, sirens whistling, horns honking and lights flashing.

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