EUGENE — They seemingly came out of nowhere to win the Class 4A state cross-country championship last year.
And the Crook County Cowboys pulled off the same sort of surprise this year, finishing as runner-up in Class 5A at the state championships Saturday at Lane Community College.
Crater won the team title with 58 points, and Crook County was second with 120. Ashland finished third with 136 points.
Cade Catterson led the Cowboys, finishing 10th in 16 minutes, 34 seconds over the 5,000-meter course. Evan Holland of Ashland won the race in 15:30.
“This was even a bigger win for us I think overall,” said Crook County coach Tracy Smith, comparing Saturday’s runner-up finish to last year’s title at the lower classification. “It was sort of the same kind of win because we didn’t have a lot of guys in the top 10 again. But then they all just came right in close together and that’s the way cross-country is supposed to be run, by a team, by a good grouping being within maybe 30 seconds of each other.”
Miles Chaney finished 22nd for the Cowboys in 17:00, Jonas Rice was 29th (17:12), and Alec Carne took 30th in 17:13.
Catterson, a junior, was ecstatic about both his top-10 finish and his team’s second-place trophy.
“I started a little too fast, and I really struggled in that second mile,” Catterson said. “But I picked it up that last mile and picked some more people off getting back. I was ranked 10th and I wanted to improve, but I’m still happy with it.”
Catterson estimated that he was in 20th place on the second mile, but he said he worked the hills and continued to grind his way to the finish. He said he was proud of his teammates behind him.
“We really amped it up this year moving up to 5A,” he said. “We showed that we still had what it takes. We left it all out there, for sure.”
Smith said he tried to keep his runners fresh for the state championship, limiting their races during the season, sometimes against their wishes.
“We’ve always peaked really well at the end of the season,” Smith said. “Sometimes the kids get a little upset because I won’t let them run every week, but I try to keep them from running too many races so they’re not so tired at the end.
“We’ve got some kids who really fight hard, and they believe in themselves and they challenge themselves. It’s awesome.”
In the Class 6A boys race, Central Catholic won with 93 points. Summit finished seventh with 205 points, and Bend was 13th with 382 points.
Summit’s Zachry Weber finished 12th in 15:54, and Bend’s Jakob Knox took 39th in 16:22.
In the Class 4A race earlier Saturday, Sisters’ John Peckham, who qualified for state as an individual, finished 15th place in 16:58.
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,