Womens cross country looks to go from worst to first

10/01/2013 22:18

After going through a rebuilding year in 2012, this year’s Lane women’s cross country team looks to return to winning form and contend for a regional championship.

Last year’s team, which finished last in the NWAACC South Region, was short on natural cross country runners and was made up of mostly sprinters and middle-distance runners who were trying to stay in shape for track season.

This year, Head Coach Mike Blackmore has brought in a mix of local prep stars and talented transfers from other schools.

“Our number one girl from last year is actually our number three on this year’s team,” Blackmore said. “The women’s team is in really good standing right now compared to where they were last year.”

Macaulay Wilson is Lane’s only returning runner from last season. She finished 8th at the NWAACC South Region Championship and was consistently the Titans’ number one runner.

“This season has been completely different, especially on the girls team, because the girls that were recruited to run are actual distance runners, unlike last year,” Wilson said. “I feel a lot stronger than I did last year and more confident being able to run side by side with my teammates.”

The Titans will lead with a talented freshman who has already proven that she has what it takes to bring home an individual title in a championship race.

“Our top runner is Katy Potter from Siuslaw, another state champion that we’re happy to have,” Blackmore said. “She was second last week in our first meet — about 19 seconds behind last year’s NWAACC champion — and she’s only going to improve.”

Potter is the 2012 4A Cross Country state champion and finished the Titans’ first 5k in 19:29 —  a half ahead of any other runner from the NWAACC Southern Region.

Blackmore said he will also depend heavily on freshman Kristine Dunn, a high school sprint champion from Cottage Grove, who is making her cross country debut for the Titans.

“She’s kind of our hidden gem. She’s a 400- and 800-meter runner and a soccer player and she was our fifth woman in our first meet, really not knowing how to run a cross country race,”  Blackmore said. “Now that she’s got a race under her belt, and is starting to understand the whole cross country training process. I think we’ll see good things from her going forward.”

Chelsea Spencer and Allie Cross are new additions who could both make a huge impact for Titans if they are able to run to their full potential.

“Chelsea was second in the 4A cross country meet twice a couple of years ago.. She transferred in from Air Force Academy. She’s maybe a little behind in her aerobic fitness, but I think she’ll come on when she needs to,” Blackmore said.

He said Allie ran an 18:35 5k as a junior, but last year she had some injuries that probably inhibited her from having a really good track season.

“She had a tough senior year and hardly ran at all during track season, but right now she’s our second girl and she’s been great,” he said.

It is very rare for a team to make the jump from last to first place in a single season in any sport. However, Blackmore believes this year’s Titan team has a chance to do just that.

“With all the talent in the conference it could be tough to crack into the top,” Blackmore said. “But if this group continues to grow like they have over the last couple of months, I think there is certainly a chance of winning a trophy.”

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