EUGENE – The Cottage Grove boys and Thurston girls both took home third-place finishes in the team competition at the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) Track and Field State Championships last weekend. For the Cottage Grove boys, the podium finish was the team’s first in 46 years, and it comes off the heels of missing top-four by one point last year.
“It means so much after getting so close last year. (The boys) all overperformed in the best way. Every single guy scored, every single guy was on the podium in every single event we had a kid in. We really couldn’t ask for a better weekend,” said an emotional Ricky Knutson, Cottage Grove coach. “It’s pretty awesome. It’s been a long time, and a lot of kids have been here. A lot of kids laid the foundation for these guys that did it today. It’s so cool to see them get to experience it.”
Cottage Grove was led by a group of four seniors who have been a big part of that foundation. Brennen Murphy took second in the 200m and 400m, and grabbed fourth in the long jump; Jaden Owens grabbed second in the 3000m and fifth in the 1500m; Tyler Russell captured fourth in the 110m hurdles; and Wyatt Pepiot took eighth in the 800m.
“They’re just awesome teammates,” Knutson said of the seniors. “(Our sophomore) Hayes Valley comes in and beats Tyler in the 110m hurdle prelims, and Tyler’s the first one to put his arm around him to congratulate him. They’re just awesome, awesome kids and great teammates.”
One of those seniors, Brennen Murphy, will have his name etched in the CGHS history books. Murphy took second in the 400m with a PR of 49.89, the second-fastest 400m time in school history. He also has the second-fastest 200m in school history (22.15) and was the top point-getter on the team that broke the 46-year drought.
“It’s a great feeling, especially coming off last year. Getting off the bus last year, even though some of us had high finishes, we all still felt down since we didn’t get a trophy,” Murphy said. “I’ve been in Cottage Grove my whole life, so to be the team that finally brings a trophy is amazing.”
While the CG Lion boys were ending their drought, the Thurston girls finished third for the second straight season, led once again by senior Breanna Raven. Raven grabbed two first-place finishes and two second-place finishes, ending her high school career with five track and field state championship golds.
“A lot of credit has to go to Breanna Raven, not for what she achieves, but her attitude around the team. She just makes people want to be better,” Thurston coach John Gillespie said.
For Raven, the two golds and two silvers were a surprise. Raven came into the meet as the favorite in four events: the 4x100m, long jump, triple jump and 200m. She ended up winning the triple jump, tying the meet record, and the 4x100m with teammates Brooklyn Anderson, Rainey Simmons and Kylie Jones. She was upset in the long jump and 200m, though, events in which she was the defending champion. Despite the two losses, Raven was all smiles after the meet.
“I’m so proud of myself, and I’m really happy with my coaches, my teammates, and my family. I’m just really happy. I can’t stop smiling,” she said. “It’s really sad too, and I’ll probably cry later, but I’m smiling right now.”
For Raven’s head coach, it’s a bittersweet moment to see her go.
“She tied our school record in the triple jump and tied the meet record. We also tied the school record in the 4x100m,” Gillespie said. “It’s a great end to the season, but it’s gonna be sad seeing Breanna go because we’ve been really close for the past four years. It’s been a great ride.”
See more photos from the Track and Field State Championships below: