EUGENE — Summit’s final season in Class 5A could not have ended more perfectly.
In fact, it was exactly perfect.
With senior Taylor Vandenborn winning her first individual state title and five more Storm runners placing in the top 10, Summit claimed its record-setting 10th straight girls cross-country state championship Saturday at Lane Community College with 15 points — the first perfect score ever posted, by any gender in any classification, in OSAA history.
“Best day ever,” laughed Vandenborn, who was runner-up at state last year and third in 2015. “We just love each other so much that we just work hard for each other. We’re not working for ourselves; we’re working for our team, and that makes it really strong.”
No program had ever won more than nine consecutive cross-country state titles in OSAA history, and while Summit was heavily favored to win the championship Saturday, Vandenborn said there was no stress to break the record.
“Instead of calling it pressure, I would just say it’s motivation,” said Vandenborn, who won with a time of 18 minutes, 28 seconds. “No one’s saying we have to do it, but everyone’s rooting for us to do it. So it’s a good kind of pressure.”
“This whole season, we do these gnarly hill workouts, we do workouts running through swampy grass, and then recovery after that,” said Summit’s Fiona Max, who was second in 18:35. “It’s all a process. We believed this season that if we put our minds to it, collectively as a group, and put our best foot forward, then we could accomplish it.”
Fiona’s twin sister, Isabel Max, was third for Summit, which defeated runner-up Hood River Valley by 69 points. Liv Downing was fifth, Stella Skovborg was sixth and Azza Borovicka Swanson placed ninth for the Storm. But the entire field was led by Vandenborn, who waited quite a while to claim an individual state title, running behind three-time champion teammate Olivia Brooks the past three seasons.
“You can’t even describe it,” Vandenborn said. “It’s just a lot of hard work and a lot of pushing and mental toughness that you would never expect yourself to have. You dig deep down, you don’t even know it’s there, and it’s amazing.”
Kelsey Swenson, Mountain View’s lone runner, had finished sixth each of the past two years but placed fourth Saturday, though she conceded she was not completely satisfied with her finish.
“My goal was to run with Fiona until the end,” the Mountain View junior said. “I wanted to break that top three Summit sweep, but I’m also really happy that I got to finish fourth this year. It gives me lots of motivation. I know next year we’re moving up to 6A, so there will be way tougher competition, but I think I’m ready.”
Michaela Lorenz was 23rd to pace seventh-place Bend, which totaled 184 points, and the Lava Bears’ Allie Wilber was 36th.
In the 5A boys race, Summit’s Jett Ballantyne finished 10th overall in 15:57, recording his third straight top-10 finish at state — this time in one of the more competitive fields in recent memory.
“There’s a lot of really good competition,” said Ballantyne, a senior, whose team took fifth with 136 points. “They raced hard. I’m not entirely satisfied, but I’m definitely happy I at least got onto the podium.”
Crater’s Andy Monroe outsprinted Ashland’s Evan Holland to win the individual crown in 15:19. That tandem paced the field from the start, making it difficult for the rest of the pack to keep close, Ballantyne said.
Also for the Storm, Chad Ford was 22nd overall, and Jackson Malace took 36th. Crater repeated as state champion with 32 points.
Bend, which was fourth as a team with 121 points, was led by Bennet Jackson, who was 15th. Trevor Wilber finished 21st, and Jakob Knox was 30th for the Lava Bears, who posted the program’s best finish at state since 2002. Ridgeview’s Albert Hesse came in 20th overall.
The day, however, belonged to the Summit girls, who ended their 5A run in record fashion. Or, more accurately, double-record fashion.
“We did it,” said Fiona Max. “This whole season, we’d chat a little bit about it, and it was always on our minds. But you never think you’re going to be there in that moment. But we’re here, and we did it.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, firstname.lastname@example.org