Oliver Leads Cross Country to First State Meet in 15 Years

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The Canby boys varsity cross country team finished third in a soggy Three Rivers League district championships Wednesday, earning a trip to the state finals at Lane Community College Nov. 6 — the team’s first in 15 years.

Junior Maddox Oliver paced the Cougs on the muddy 5,000-meter course, punching his own ticket to the state meet with a sixth-place finish in 17:00.11.

Oliver had one of the most thrilling finishes of the day, passing Cooper Wood, a senior for the Lakeridge Pacers, in a furious head-to-head down the final stretch. Oliver was elated to qualify for state and recounted his final few meters in an interview with The Canby Current.

Canby’s Maddox Oliver caught Lakeridge’s Cooper Wood in the home stretch to claim sixth place. Photo by Tyler Francke.

“In the back of my mind I knew we were gonna need to get the lowest place possible,” Oliver said. “I wasn’t going to let the guy in front of me beat me if a spot to state individually and as a team was on the line.”

While Lakeridge won the meet overall, Oliver came out on top in the head-to-head, finishing barely a half-second ahead of Wood.

The Pacers ended up as the runaway winners in the TRL showdown with the blisteringly low score of 48. Tualatin finished second at 73, with the scrappy Cougs nipping at their heels, tallying 82 points.

Senior Tommy O’Neil finished 12th in the final district meet of his decorated cross country career. Photo by Tyler Francke.

Longtime Cougar head coach Tom Millbrooke was pleased with his team’s preparation and performance on Wednesday.

“Our team grew in both numbers and ability as we worked through the season,” said Millbrooke, “We learned some life lessons and showed tremendous improvement over our short 11 week season.

Oliver was followed through the chute by senior and team captain Tommy O’Neil in 12th place (17:21.94), senior Joel Ibarra in 17th (17:43.96), junior Jack Joyce in 19th (17:49.76).

Senior Joel Ibarra turned in a strong performance to help the Cougars finish in the money. Photo by Tyler Francke.

Freshman Andrew Dewar came in 28th (18:08.91) — but third among first-years — to round out the team scorers for the state-bound Cougs, who heard their name called for the first time in a decade and a half.

“It was honestly such an amazing feeling,” Oliver said. “The boys have worked so hard for months leading up to this race. Our expectation all season was to make it to state. To hear our name be called and being told we were going was a great feeling.”

Sophomore Rhett Smith finished in 18:34.60 for 38th place in the field of 48, while junior Ryan Petterson rounded out the Canby contingent with a time of 19:00.87, good for a 45th-place finish.

Newcomer Andrew Dewar rounded out the scoring for Canby, claiming the 28th spot — but was third among freshmen. Photo by Tyler Francke.

The Canby girls, who have unfortunately been decimated by both injuries and illness, finished eighth with 242 points, led by senior Kali Lucas in 42nd with a time of 22:20.28. Despite a tough performance, Milbrooke gave the girls credit for their perseverance and commitment.

Lucas was followed by junior Kaitlyn Doman in 47th (22:49.58), with senior Lexy Perez (50th, 24:45.53), senior Laela Wood (24:56.56), freshman Melia Stoddart (25:46.83) and freshman Rashlee Bael (25:58.22) rounded out the field.

The Cougar boys will continue their season at the state meet on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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