Enterprise speedsters Krista Stangel, Julie Vernarsky and Michael Swart all did well against fields of 114 runners at the 1A/2A OSAA state cross country competition in Eugene. Very well indeed, in Stangel's case, with the junior finishing first with a time of 19:12, 23 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Jolee Van Leuven of Catlin Gable. Vernarsky, also a junior, turned in an outstanding season run, finishing 35th with a 22:33. Senior Michael Swart, in his final EHS cross county run, took ninth among the boys with a time of 17:14. Brad Taylor of Oakridge finished first in 16:00, over 30 seconds ahead of his nearest competition.
Stangel enjoyed her state victory. "It was really good. I was really excited. (Coach Dan) Moody prepared us well," she said. Stangel ran with the lead pack, consisting of herself, Van Leuven and Diana Sanchez of Blancet Catholic, up to three-quarters of a mile or so from the finish. At that point, "I decided to see what I had left," Stangel said. As it happened, she had far more than the other two racers and pulled out to a 23 second lead.
It wasn't only her win that made the day special. Stangel was also happy for her teammates. "I was glad that Julie (Vernarsky) and Michael (Swart) did so well."
Swart was happy with his state appearance. "District was kind of a disappointment. If I hadn't been sick I could have won. I knew that at state I had to push the second and third mile a lot harder." Swart also believed the altitude and his training with coach Dan Moody helped him in the race. "I knew the oxygen level would really help. (The elevation there) is only like 800 feet. I liked the course, too. It was muddy." The mud was a help because the Enterprise team had trained for strength rather than speed, and a tough course with boggy ground pays off for runners focused on toughness.
Stangel isn't quite done running this fall. She will be competing in the The Nike Border Clash in Beaverton, which will see the top 40 runners from Oregon and Washington schools going head-to-head on Nov. 21. Stangel will also be playing basketball for EHS this winter, and both she and Swart will be back for another track season come spring.
Among the girls teams, Catlin Gable, Central Linn and Myrtle Point finished first through third, respectively. For the boys, the top three were McKenzie, Oakridge and Union.