Wildcats repeat as NWOC champions despite turnover

by: GREG ARTMAN / FILE - Kody Wilde and the Wilsonville boys cross-country team won a district title this season. The Wildcats have won four NWOC championships in a row.The Wilsonville boys cross-country team has qualified for the state finals in all but one of the past 14 seasons.

And although it seemed as if the Wildcats might be in trouble entering this year — they lost all five of their 2012 scorers to graduation — they came right back with yet another stellar season.

Not only did they return to the OSAA championships — they did it after winning a fourth-straight Northwest Oregon Conference title with an entirely different lineup.

“We graduate good runners every year,” Wilsonville coach David Barkley said. “The trick is finding 12 to 15 kids every year that will really invest in their abilities over four years so we don’t get caught with an empty cupboard. Last year was a big loss; however, some of the kids behind them were good runners but just hidden in the shadows of a really strong class.”

This year, five members of the program earned spots on the all-league teams for their performances at the NWOC district meet.

Wildcats junior Josh Meyer and senior Alex Tomlinson made the first team, junior Carlos Villagomez and senior Zach Uselman received second-team honors and junior Kody Wilde garnered honorable mention.

Meyer had a phenomenal season for Wilsonville, placing fourth at the league finals with a time of 17 minutes 15.8 seconds.

Meyer’s career-best time of 16:23.7, which he clocked Oct. 11 at Sandelie Golf Course, put him in the program’s all-time top 10.

“He led every race for us this year,” Barkley said. “He took on a lot of responsibility as a junior and did a fine job of it.”

Tomlinson, meanwhile, finished his high school cross-country career on the first team after placing seventh at the district meet. He ran a career-best 17:00.6 in October.

“Alex was a really good team leader for us,” Barkley said. “He grew a lot as a teammate, runner and leader this year. Much of the team vision came from him.”

Villagomez added to the Wildcats’ depth this season, clocking a 17:51.3 to place eighth in the varsity district race a year after placing sixth in the junior varsity competition. And Barkley envisions even more progress for Villagomez next year.

“Carlos is one of the most consistent runners we’ve ever had,” Barkley said. “His rate of improvement says he has a good shot at being an all-stater in cross-country next fall.”

Uselman (18:17.1), whose brother, Jake, was also a member of the team, took 14th at the NWOC finals after placing 22nd at the district preview.

“He kept himself positive through the early season as he was working his way back into racing shape,” Barkley said. “He finished off the season very well. His district race sealed the win for us — it was one of the best races of the year.”

Wilde (18:23.6), an Idaho transfer, rounded out Wilsonville’s scoring lineup at No. 16.

“It was great to get an all-league transfer,” Barkley said. “He fit in with the team so well, it seemed like he had always been around. He had an excellent finish to the year.”

Meyer, Villagomez, Tomlinson and Jamie Barajas received team leadership awards.

Sandy senior Isaac Mitchell won the individual district title. David Douglas was named the NWOC boys coach of the year after leading Liberty to a state berth.

The Wildcats placed 10th out of 12 teams at the state meet with 237 points. Bend-Summit (38) dominated the race en route to winning the 5A title. Summit junior Matthew Maton ran an impressive 14:59 to capture the OSAA title.

“This is a really good group of guys, and it will be great to have a big group of returners,” Barkley said, peeking forward to next season. “Our goal is to keep our string of qualifying to state alive. It is a great group of young men who are starting to see they could be really good of they allow themselves the time to train and improve.”




District: First place (fourth-straight NWOC title)

State: 10th place out of 12 teams at the Class 5A finals

All-league first team: Josh Meyer, Alex Tomlinson

All-league second team: Carlos Villagomez, Zach Uselman

Honorable mention: Kody Wilde

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