DALLAS — A season ago, Dallas’ boys cross-country team came close to qualifying for state — finishing fourth in the team standings.
The Dragons are hoping for a similar surprise Wednesday (today) at the Mid-Willamette Conference district championship at Waterloo Park in Lebanon.
Sophomore Trevor Cross will pace Dallas. Cross posted the second fastest time in the MWC so far this season (16 minutes, 11.2 seconds), behind only Silverton’s Hosea Catterall (16:04.4).
“I’m really close to getting under 16 minutes,” Cross said. “I’d like to do that and maybe take first or second.”
Dallas hopes to make a serious run at qualifying for state as a team.
At the Dragons’ home meet on Oct. 19, Ryan Bibler (17:30.1), Kenny Sutton (17:35.0) and Gavin Grass (17:37.2) all cracked the 18-minute mark for the first time this season.
“We’re going in with the mentality that we’re stronger if we run as a pack,” Bibler said.
The battle for third in the team standings will likely be hotly contested, but Dallas enters with cautious optimism.
“I think it’s going to be a good race,” Sutton said. “What happens will happen, I just want to run the best race I can and place the best I can for my team.”
In a hypothetical race based on each runner’s season-best time, Dallas ranks seventh out of eight teams.
“We’re in striking distance,” Lankheet said. “… You have to develop an appetite for feeling really uncomfortable to enjoy this sport. They understand that and aren’t afraid of that anymore. We can test their limits. Before they were holding back and thinking, I don’t want to die. Now they’re not afraid to die.”
The boys know they will be in a battle if they want to qualify for state as a team, but they know anything can happen.
“Our boys, if we run really well and get some things in our favor, we have a shot,” Lankheet said.
The girls hope for a strong showing as well.
“I hope to see everyone on my team pushing themselves to do their best,” Bekah Rocak said.
The girls face a tall order to move up spots in the team standings, and Lankheet is excited to see them compete.
“They’re working hard and have personal goals on where they want to finish,” Lankheet said.