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Knudson, cross-country team, keep eye on the prize

DALLAS — When Dallas junior Orion Knudson joined the cross-country team as a sophomore, he wasn’t exactly a distance runner.

“When I started a long run was about six to seven miles and I would complain about that,” he said.

Prior to that, football was his sport of choice in the fall, but relentless recruiting by runners caused him to cave in and join.

“Everyone was telling me how fun it was and it would get me into shape,” Knudson said.

Thanks to football, Knudson was used to pushing his body to his physical limits, but running presented a different kind of challenge.

“It was a lot more mentally challenging,” Knudson said. “I was surprised with just how much running I’d wind up doing. It’s a lot of running.”

These days, Knudson considers a long run around 11 miles, and the junior is a key part of Dallas’ varsity group.

Knudson placed 20th at the Mid-Willamette Conference Preview Meet on Sept. 20, one of four Dragon runners in the top 20, helping Dallas to a second-place finish in the team standings behind Crescent Valley.

“We looked at everyone else’s times, see how much other teams have improved and how we have improved,” Knudson said.

Along with Trevor Cross, Toby Ruston, Gavin Grass and Dillon Stuhr, Ryan Jones and Daniel Gagner, the Dragons’ varsity runners are focused on one thing.

“I feel like we can go to state this year,” Ruston said.

Dallas will compete at the Harrier Classic on Saturday as runners begin a final push toward what they hope ends with a trip to state.

“We are looking at which runners (from our league) we want to pass and how we can go higher in the rankings,” Knudson said.


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