Nov. 29, 2016 – On a rainy morning in Eugene, typical of most OSAA State Cross Country meets, the District 6 girls champion St. Mary’s Crusaders lined up at the start line seeded sixth and ready to test their mettle against the top 1A/2A/3A teams in the state.
After a winning last year’s state cross-country championship, the Crusaders graduated six of their top runners, including individual champion Marissa Dobry. With that in mind there was much uncertainty how this group would respond at the state meet with a young and relatively inexperienced group. But led by sophomore Emma Bennion and Junior Lindsey Gurr the young St. Mary’s runners competed valiantly for a spot on the podium.
Bennion, who finished 9th last year, was able to match that performance in a time of 19:47. Gurr was the 39th overall runner in with a time of 22:04. The next three runners for the Crusaders came in quick succession; Aly Diaz-McNeal (50) 23:11, Sophia Pastrano (51) 23:12, and Summer Keating (53) 23:20. Kate Vasey (60) 23:47 and Mekella Wong (66) 24:09 rounded out the team finishes.
When the dust settled the final team results showed that St. Mary’s had secured a 5th place team finish overall with 157 points, just seven points out of the top 4. For such a young team, with very little state meet experience, this finish has to have the coach and team looking forward to next season, feeling motivated to get back to the state meet, and excited for what the future holds for St. Mary’s Girls Cross Country.