Sports Zone

Owens powers Lions with Top 3 finish

EUGENE – Cottage Grove’s Jaden Owens and Carter Bengtson made a bit of history Saturday as they placed 3rd and 6th, respectively, at the Class 4A state cross country meet at Lane Community College.

It was the first time that the school had two individuals place in the top 10 at state.

“If you had asked them a couple weeks ago what their hopes were in terms of how they would do at the state meet, this would have been right up there,” Cottage Grove head coach Ricky Knutson said. “We knew that (Alexander Garcia-Silver) of Marshfield was going to be tough and we were hoping that Jaden would be able to get one of those guys from The Dalles, and he hung in there and ran really strong. And Carter, he’s been running really strong all season as well, so a sixth-place finish for him is pretty awesome.”

The Lions came into the meet brimming with confidence after outlasting Marshfield by three points last week to win their district. Knutson said it was a team effort, with good runs by all five runners. On Saturday, Owens and Bengtson were backed up by Kobi Prenevost (51st), Brennen Murphy (64th) and Wyatt Pepiot (74th).

“It was a little tougher today,” Knutson said after the Lions finished eighth as a team. “Marshfield and Marist both ran well today. Our 3-4-5 guys have been really solid but they had a bit of a struggle today. We were going to have to be perfect to fight for a team trophy.”

The Dalles won the team competition with 57 points, three points ahead of Philomath (60). Crook County placed third (142) and Marist was fourth (164).

The Cottage Grove girls – making their first appearance at state in 14 years – did their “best” to show that they belong, finishing seventh as a team.

“Our girls were very great as well, four of our top five had personal bests,” Knutson said. “This was the first time they had been to state since 2008. So it was a pretty solid day on the girls side.”

Allison Palluck was the top finisher for the Lions, placing 23rd. Bella Keating was next, in 29th, followed by Ella Cardwell (50th) and Jordynn Owens (51st).

Now that the Lions program is “up and running,” Knutson said he looks forward to building a winning tradition.

“We have a great group of kids to work with, and all our girls come back next year,” Knutson said. “With the boys, we lose Jayden and Brennen and Wyatt – three of our top five – to graduation. So we’ll reboot; that’s the fun part.”

• Springfield placed ninth in the 5A boys competition as Owen Fuller finished in 33rd place. Teammates Conner Lamb (45th), Ryan Hass (57th) and Scott Desmond (77th) backed him up.
• A balanced attack helped Pleasant Hill take 10th place in the Class 1-2-3A girls race. Ellie Epperson led the pack in 53rd, and was followed by Soleis Jones (56th), Athena Sprague (70th) and Piper Wilson (71st)



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