EUGENE -- Alyn Moncsko was well acquainted with the 5,000-meter course at Lane Community College by the time she had arrived at last Saturday's OSAA state cross country championships.
It was her fourth time participating in the state race in as many years.
"The difference between this time and before is I've had my head in the game a lot more this year, as far as pushing myself," Moncsko, the Central High cross country standout said. "I knew this was my last high school cross country meet ever and I had to leave everything on the course."
Moncsko finished fourth out of 106 Class 4A runners with a time of 19 minutes, 52 seconds, her second best time ever. She had come into the race ranked sixth in Oregon among 4A runners.
"I'm happy about not only being within the top 10, but the top five," she said. "It all worked out."
Central coach Brad Simkins noted that Moncsko's fourth-place finish was the second best showing Central has had at the state meet in the last 30 years.
Race day on Nov. 5 was showery and cool. And the course south of Eugene is mostly flat, save for three hills "that really take it out of you when you're trying your hardest," Moncsko said.
Dallas High School's two representatives in Eugene on Saturday also said the weather was a factor in their races. Junior Mary Kate McGuire placed 16th in the 5A girls race in a time of 19:40, while senior Alex Bird placed 39th overall in the 5A boys race in 17:11.
Mary Kate McGuire
Neither times were personal records, however, McGuire's time was the fastest any Dallas girl has run at the state meet. Bird's time was in the top five state performances for Dallas boys.
"I felt like that, under the conditions, that they were very competitive," said Dallas coach Monique Lankheet.
Moncsko said she started out keeping pace with the front end of the 4A pack, without trying to dominate.
"I figured because this was a state meet, everybody would be running on adrenaline," she said.
She ended the race fourth, with Tia Carnahan of Scappoose and Sweet Home's Nicole Rassmussen 3 and 4 seconds behind, respectively.
Central's other state qualifier, Wendy Deptula, placed 48th with a time of 21:58.
The state meet is over, but Moncsko's cross country season isn't. She has qualified for the Nike Border Clash cross country meet at the company's headquarters in Beaverton.
The Nov. 20 event will pit the top high school runners from Oregon and Washington against one another.
McGuire had hoped to place in the top 15 of the 5A race for a chance to run at the meet. Finishing 16th, she is an alternate and may still have a chance to run.