West Linn takes second at the district meet with a handful of terrific finishes

by: VERN UYETAKE - Connor Cushman led the way for West Linn's boys cross country team last week at Clackamas Community College, taking third place individually.The West Linn cross country teams each had stellar showings on a cold and difficult Clackamas Community College course last week for the district meet.

The boys team was a favorite to earn a berth at state heading into the event and the Lions didn't disappoint, battling powerhouse Lakeridge every step of the way.

West Linn took second place as a team and convincingly earned a trip to Eugene with some outstanding performances along the way.

As expected, the race was led by Lakeridge's Julian Heninger and Lake Oswego's Todd Macdonald.

West Linn's Connor Cushman stayed within striking distance of the leaders for much of the race but he also had some company.

“I tried to keep up with them for as long as possible but they took off after the second mile,” Cushman said.

After the two frontrunners crossed the finish line, it became a dogfight for positioning with the next eight runners finishing within six seconds of each other.

Cushman would use a strong kick to take third place overall, fending off an incredible showing from his freshman teammate Roman Ollar.

“I couldn't get beat by a freshman, especially in my senior year. But the whole team ran well and really pushed each other,” Cushman said.

Ollar finished just half a second behind Cushman for fourth place, nearly setting a PR in what was easily his best showing of the season.

The pair of Lions edged out two other Lakeridge runners while Tyler Griffin coasted across the line in seventh place for West Linn.

West Linn closed out the race well with two more freshmen finishing in the top-20.

Grayson Ollar took 14th place and Colin Squires finished in 17th as West Linn and Lakeridge dominated the event.

West Linn will head to state this Saturday with some high expectations. The Lions feature some experience in Cushman and Griffin and the team's strong freshman class continues to improve.

“I think we're going into the race strong. We're definitely looking to bring home some hardware,” Cushman said.

In the girls race, Grant was dominant as expected, placing five runners in the top eight.

That made individual berths to the state meet difficult to come by. The Lions ran well with all seven of its runners finishing within 50 seconds of each other.

Marija Jozic would lead the way for the Lions, capping a strong end to the season with an 11th place showing in 20:49.84.

“I'm really happy with how I ran. It was close to a PR which I really wasn't expecting on this course,” Jozic said.

However, she finished just three tenths of a second out of an automatic trip to state when Oregon City's Rachel Crawford edged her at the line.

West Linn's Rebecca Donnelly finished right behind Jozic in 12th place and Tara Galloway took 16th with perhaps her best showing of the year.

Hanna Morford, Calin Guerins and Julia Boyd-Helm all finished less than two seconds apart in 23rd, 24th and 25th respectively to round out the Lions' top five.

West Linn took fourth place at the meet, just two points behind Lake Oswego for third.

The state meet will be this Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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