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Summit keeps running ahead: Girls cross-country team wins 13th straight state crown

(Update: Adding video, comment from runners, coach)

Just one shy of all-time, all-sport state high school record

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The only thing that apparently can stop the Summit girls cross-country team from winning a state title has been a global pandemic.

Boys and girls Head Coach Kari Strang told NewsChannel 21 on Monday, “It was hard last year, not having that opportunity. Because in our minds, it would be 14 by now.”

In last year's pandemic-adjusted spring season, there was no state championship for Class 6A. It was also Strang's first year as head coach.

“Especially coming out of the COVID year, it’s been really hard for people to maintain the passion and energy in sport,” she said.

At this weekend's State Championship meet in Eugene, the Storm picked up right where they left off, winning their 13th consecutive state title.

The team was led by a quartet of top-10 finishers at the meet at Lane Community College: junior Ella Thorsett, senior Teaghan Knox, junior Barrett Justema and senior Magdalene Williams.

Justema said, “I kind of realized everybody had their best races, and everybody ran with the hearts -- and I didn’t realize until 20 minutes (after the race) that we possibly could have won (the state title)."

Thorsett added, “I remember like crossing the line, seeing we had four girls in the top 10. I feel like I knew then that chances were we had won it.”

The 13 straight state titles is the second-most all-time for any Oregon School Activities Association program, according to OSAA records, and the most ever in any fall sport.

Next year, the Storm will look to tie the all-time mark, set by the David Douglas girls swim team, which won 14 straight titles, from 1967 to 1981.

Interestingly, the Storm girls cross-country team broke a tie with the Summits girls track and field program, which won 12 straight state titles from 2007 to 2018.

"This is my first time on such a power house team, and so it's definitely a change," Thorsett said. "It's a whole new level of pressure -- but it's such a good pressure!"

She just transferred to Summit, but thriving under pressure is something Justema agreed with: The pressure they face is good for them.

After a few more post=season meets this fall, the chase will then begin for state title No. 14, and that record.

"Repeat" Strang said.. "We fully expect to give next season our all."

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

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