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Sunset girls go one, two, three for title

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset senior Charlotte Corless won the Metro League Championship by more than 30 seconds with a 17:54 finish. The Apollo girls won the team title as well.

Prior to the start of the girls’ Metro League cross country championship, Sunset senior Charlotte Corless experienced a positive premonition about her Apollo teammates.

If herself, Nicole Griffiths and Audrey Huelskamp could all run normal and controlled, Corless thought to herself, then the Apollos could sweep the top three and seize the Metro League team title. The battle-tested senior, admittedly, wasn’t sure how her two sophomore teammates would handle the district setting. However, when Griffiths crossed the finish after Corless won the race and Huelskamp was right behind in third, Corless couldn’t hide her joy, even if she couldn’t tell who was running toward her at the tape.

“At first, the sun was kind of blinding, but I saw (Griffiths’) hair flowing and I was like, ‘Blond hair, blond hair’,” laughed Corless. “Then I saw Audrey and someone said we were one, two, three. These girls were just so impressive. They’re both sophomores, so just imagine what’s in their future. It was a really good feeling.”

Sunset’s trio of top finishers was the tipping point to a terrific outing for the Apollos, who doubled up Jesuit with 36 team points to take home the team title. Sophomore Isabel Huelskamp’s seventh place (18:56), sophomore Amanda Calderwood’s 23rd place and junior Kendall Butz’s 28th place were also important in backing Corless, Griffiths and Audrey Huelskamp.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset sophomore Audrey Huelskamp ran a personal best 18:35 at the Metro League Championship to take third overall. The Apollo girls won the team title.

Audrey Huelskamp saved her best of the race of the year for the ideal stage, running an 18:35 to smash her previous seasonal best by 25 seconds. Pre-race, the sophomore could sense how well she could speed, so decided to take a risk and pass the Metro battalion with a half-mile to go.

“I think it was a lot of hard work and positive mental attitude during the race,” said Huelskamp. “I was pushing myself, always telling myself it was worth it in the end. I was always looking for that next girl. I went for it when I had the chance.”

A star state-qualifier in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter dash on the track, Griffiths proved she can hold her own over a three-mile stretch as well. In just her first year running cross country, Griffiths smashed her personal record by almost a half a minute, running an 18:29 for second place and first-team all-Metro honors.

“I knew I was capable of it, I just had to pursue it today,” said Griffiths. “I knew what I had to do, not go out too fast and just keep catching them one-by-one. I was really happy with how it worked and to have Audrey come up at the end, I was just so happy to know we could do so well and go one, two, three.”

Griffiths said she used the downhill slopes to her advantage as well as Neeway’s words of commendation to get her through to the podium.

“I could feel people coming up behind me, but I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to let this happen. I have to keep going’,” said Griffiths. “I just try to be really competitive about it.” by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset sophomore Nicole Griffiths placed second at the Metro League Championship and helped the Apollos win the district team title.

Corless said she could feel Aloha’s Allison Martinez pushing her for the first mile, yet the Sunset competitor was able to maintain speed and carry out the race strategy set out by head coach Daniel Neeway. The defending Metro League champion was rarely tested by the field as the unseasonably warm sun started to take a toll on the district’s top contenders. Corless’ 17:54 finish was 35 seconds ahead of the pack.

Sophomore Nicole McCullough was the only Jesuit girl to place in the top 10, yet the Crusaders were still able to punch their ticket to state by coming at Metro in waves. Junior Hannah Harkness ran a 19:28 to take 13th overall. Junior Dylan Hite, sophomore Katie Leavy and sophomore Aimee Piercy finished in the top 20 as well to help Jesuit finish second with 76 points.

“We have a really strong pack and a group of girls who stick together really well,” added McCullough. “The trick is feeding off each other and running with somebody. We’re all very close together (in times), and we all try to move to the front instead of settling for staying back. We’re always pushing, and I think that’s something unique about us.”

This will be Harkness’ first time running at state and she’s excited to have her squad in tow.by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Dylan Hite took 15th overall at the Metro League Championship and helped the Crusaders clinch a state berth this week.

“I’m ecstatic, and I’m so glad the whole team will be there with me,” said Harkness. “We definitely push each other and work together. We’re talking to each other during the race, and I think that helps when it comes to the final mile of the race. We kind of broke up there for a while, but in the end, I think the pack really worked.”

Westview’s Sarah Medved started amongst the top group of racers, but as she watched them inch away, the Wildcat senior sped up and kept pace with Jesuit’s Nicole McCullough until the Crusader junior faded to the back of the pack. Medved made her way to the top five individually by outkicking Aloha’s Allison Martinez with about 50 yards to go to the tape.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westviews Sarah Medved, back, was able to outkick Alohas Allison Martinez for fifth place overall at the Metro League Championship. Martinez still punched a ticket to the state meet with her sixth-place finish.

“I heard my coaches go, ‘Now, now’,” said Medved. “Then I started going downhill, passed (McCullough), and then I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I can do this.’ I saw the finish and started speeding up. I saw (Martinez), and she was getting closer and closer, so I knew I could do it.”

Medved beat Martinez by a half step and took fifth (18:49) overall just ahead of the Warrior senior (18:49.2). Martinez still qualified for state as she was the third individual not apart of either first place Sunset or second place Jesuit who will send their entire teams to the 6A State Championships.

“I’m so happy because it’s my senior year. I’m excited,” said Medved. “I’ve made state in all three years of cross country, so this year it meant a lot to make it and participate in state.”

Somewhat skeptical about her district prospects because of a self-described “not so great season,” Beaverton’s Erin Gregoire demonstrated it doesn’t matter what a runner accomplishes during the regular season. As long as she bring it at district, like the Beaver junior did, qualifying for state by running an 18:44, that’s all that counts. Gregoire was able to make up for a slow start and picked off a number of contenders with a powerful kick on her way to fourth place overall.

“I’m very competitive, so when I see someone in front of me, then I know that I’ll feel really guilty if I don’t try to pass them,” said Gregoire. “That felt really good. There were some really good girls in this race, and they gave me some good experience. I think that’s really important with a big race like state coming up.”

Gregoire said she wasn’t looking forward to the final kick because of how she felt early on. Yet, she used the downhills to gain speed and worked well with the last half-mile to clinch her third state berth in as many years.



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