Boys, girls face difficult path to state

Central junior Diana Nye races at Dallas City Park on Oct. 18.

Photo by Lukas Eggen
Central junior Diana Nye races at Dallas City Park on Oct. 18.

INDEPENDENCE — On paper, Central’s boys and girls cross-country teams have a difficult challenge ahead of them to finish in the top three and qualify for state at the Mid-Willamette Conference district meet Thursday at Willamette Mission State Park in Gervais.

“On paper, our boys and girls are on the outside looking in,” coach Eli Cirino said.

That doesn’t mean the Panthers are ready to lay down.

“It’s going to be tough,” Cirino said. “We’ll have to run out of our minds a little bit, but we have a bunch of runners who are ready to lay it all out on the line.”


What: Mid-Willamette Conference District Championships.

When: Thursday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Willamette Mission State Park, Gervais.

What’s at stake: The top three teams advance to the state meet Nov. 4. Any individual runner in the top 10 who is not on a qualifying team also advances.

Junior Diana Nye is one of those runners. Nye is one of three runners on the girls team, along with senior Bailie Hartford and sophomore Naomi Vega, to set a season record under 21 minutes.

“I’m really excited,” Nye said. “We’ve been (setting personal records) and I’m excited to get to do this with Naomi and Bailie. It’s really fun running with them.”

But she’s also running for her teammates, especially the seniors.

“This is my last year with the seniors,” Nye said. “When they’re gone, some of my motivation might be gone too. They’re a big reason why I run. They’re great people.”

Senior Rufus Schrader is also ready to give every ounce of energy he has. Schrader has run for the past seven seasons, but Wednesday’s race will mark the first time he’ll run at districts as a varsity runner.

“It’s a good way to end my running career,” Schrader said. “All the runners on our team are really competitive. Everyone is going to run as hard as they can. No one likes losing, especially to teammates.”

The Panthers may not be a favorite to qualify for state, but Cirino said his runners have the heart to surprise.

“Woodburn’s boys team wasn’t expected to make state last year,” Cirino said. “We’re going to go there and know that we can do this if we go crazy a little bit.”

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