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Cascade Christian's Hudson Eustace pulls away from the field during Thursday's District 6 cross country championships at Valley of the Rogue State Park. - Andy Atkinson

Eustace, Bennion bag titles

VALLEY OF THE ROGUE STATE PARK — Cascade Christian had a banner day at the District 6 cross country championships Thursday, advancing the boys and girls teams to state and throwing in an individual winner to boot.

"It was a great day," said Challengers coach Steve Williston. "I'm very happy at the moment."

For good reason.

Hudson Eustace captured his third straight title, leading the Cascade Christian boys to their fourth crown in a row. They edged New Hope Christian, 35-36.

Meanwhile, the Challenger girls tied Triad Christian for second place, each with 43 points, but CC will advance to next week's state meet at Lane Community College based on a tiebreaker. St. Mary's won the girls meet with 38 points.

Sarah Bennion, of St. Mary's, came on strong at the end of the 5,000-meter course to claim the girls title, leading her team to the championship.

The top two teams and top five individuals advanced.

Eustace, a senior, ranks fourth in the state for Class 3A/2A/1A runners. His time was 16 minutes, 4.6 seconds.

"He did his normal great race," said Williston. "He had to run by himself, but it was a normal, controlled, solid race. He was hoping to break 16 (minutes), but he'll be ready to break loose at state."

Cascade Christian's Alex Cummings and Tristan Akery were a minute or so behind Eustace, placing fourth and fifth, respectively, but they were a big reason for the one-point victory. Each was seeded three places lower.

"That's pretty cool," said Williston. "You might as well give them credit for the win for stepping up like they did. That's truly what happened. We wouldn't have gotten it without them."

Bennion, who also plays soccer for the Crusaders, is ranked second in the state. She won with a time of 19:45.4, nearly eight seconds ahead of Cascade Christian's Stephanie Croy.

Bennion, a senior, has had a taxing fall playing two sports and wasn't out to set any records.

"She ran kind of conservative today," said coach Joe Volk. "She was holding back a little bit, running with the pack instead of pulling away early because she was trying to save things going into state."

Bennion made up about 10 meters in the last kilometer to catch Croy, then pulled in front for good. Croy's time was 19:53.59.

Olivia Minor (seventh,) and Maddy Schwartz (eighth) added top-10 finishes for the Crusaders.

The state meet is Nov. 5 at Lane Community College in Eugene.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES — Cascade Christian 35, New Hope Christian 36, St. Mary's 53. Rogue River, Paisley, Hosanna Christian, Glendale, Lakeview, Canyonville Christian.

TOP 25 INDIVIDUALS — 1, Hudson Eustace, CC, 16:04.6; 2, Christian Huttema, NHC, 16:42.7; 3, Chris Merlos, NHC, 16:50.5; 4, Alex Cummings, CC, 17:01.39; 5, Tristan Akery, CC, 17:14; 6, David Johnson, NHC, 17:22; 7, Tate Jacobson, SM, 17:23; 8, Terryn Downhill, RR, 17:42.09; 9, Chris Martin, SM, 17:48.7; 10, Mikey Janeke, HC, 17:52.8.

11, Mat Blanco, RR, 18:01.5; 12, Ned Corning, L, 18:10.2; 13, Peter Schwartz, SM, 18:23.3; 14, Adam Arrington, P, 18:24.8; 15, Ross Robino, SM, 18:49.9; 16, Anthony Whipple, RR, 18:58.3; 17, Steven Mein, CC, 19:00.29; 18, Ricky Reebel, NHC, 19:01.29; 19, Adam Barth, NHC, 19:18.3; 20, Nick Wiebelhaus, L, 19:32.8; 21, Eric Summers, LR, 19:34.5; 22, Dillon Walton, P, 19:39.8; 23, Ryan Price, CC, 19:51.09; 24, Spencer Martin, NHC, 20:01.9; 25, Brandon Kynsi, RR, 20:06.29.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES — St. Mary's 38, Cascade Christian 43, Triad 43. Illinois Valley, Rogue River, Hosanna Christian, Glendale, Canyonville Christian, New Hope Christian, Lakeview, Paisley incomplete.

TOP 25 INDIVIDUALS — 1, Sarah Bennion, SM, 19:45.4; 2, Stephanie Croy, CC, 19:53.59; 3, Sarah Estabrook, TC, 19:58.4; 4, Taylor Williams, CC, 20:11.5; 5, Kirsten Hankins, TC, 20:48.59; 6, Moriah Trumbull, TC, 21:49.3; 7, Olivia Minor, SM, 22:02.09; 8, Maddy Schwartz, SM, 22:10; 9, Brittany Brown, CC, 22:16.5; 10, Samantha Milner, IV, 22:19.7.

11, Lillian Martin, SM, 22:23.7; 12, Anna Murphy, CC, 22:31.4; 13, Rayna Gasik, SM, 22:33; 14, Taylor Byrne, IV, 22:49.7; 15, Brooklyn Gillespie, SM, 22:51.3; 16, Hailey Natho, RR, 23:37.8; 17, Elana Hampton, HC, 23:48.3, 18, Kayli Hankins, TC, 23:50, 19, Suzanne Savard, TC, 23:57.3; 20, Allison Hass, SM, 24:02.09; 21, Amanda Forrester, G, 24:03.9; 22, Jessica Nicholes, CC, 24:27.5; 23, Cathy Platt, L, 25:16.7; 24, Marisol Viligrana, L, 26:09.9; 25, Jessica Theal, L, 26:55.09.

CRATER'S OBESO WINS — At Springfield, Crater senior Jon Obeso captured the Southwest Conference title, helping the Comet boys place second and advance to next week's state meet.

South Eugene won the boys team crown with 36 points, ahead of the Comets' 53. North Medford was third with 91 and South Medford fifth with 111.

South Eugene and Crater went 1-2 in the girls meet as well, the Axemen scoring 40 points to the Comets' 51. South Medford was third (65) and North Medford fifth (145).

The top two teams and the top four individuals not on those teams advance to the state meet Nov. 5 at Lane Community College in Eugene.

The Crater boys are chasing their sixth straight state championship.

Obeso won the 5,000-meter race at Lively Park Swim Center with a time of 16 minutes, 3 seconds. South Eugene's Brian Eimstad was second (16:08) and Crater's Neil Seibert third (16:13).

"I was hoping Neil and I would take it out and he stayed with me the majority of the race, so that was nice," Obeso said. "When he dropped off a bit, I knew from then on I just had to go."

Eimstad tried to chase Obeso to the finish.

"I wanted to get him, that's for sure," Eimstad said. "There was no way I was giving up, but not quite."

South Eugene coach Jeff Hess was worried when his runners stuck to their race plan early but had little show for it.

"They ran the exact race plan we had and I was completely terrified when I saw them in the middle of the race and Crater had five guys ahead of our first," Hess said. "Our guys ran the first half conservatively and then really got at it in the second half. It was some bold running at the end by all of them."

Local boys to advance to state were North Medford's Ray Schireman (sixth) and Blake Spencer (eighth) and South Medford's Camden Stemple (ninth).

South Eugene freshman Sara Tsai — who has the state's fastest time — took the girls title in 18:30, three seconds ahead of Crater's Sarah Hastings.

Tsai had about a 10-meter cushion on Hastings heading to the final 300 meters.

Crater's Gracie Tostenson was sixth in 18:57.

The only local girl to qualify for state apart from the Comets was Lauren Morgan of South Medford, who was seventh in 19:04.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES — South Eugene 36, Crater 53, North Medford 91, Sheldon 110, South Medford 111, Roseburg 114, Thurston 198, Grants Pass 229.

TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS — 1, Jon Obeso, C, 16:03; 2, Brian Eimstad, SE, 16:08; 3, Neil Seibert, C, 16:13; 4, Jack Wilson, SE, 16:15; 5, Joe Holvey, SE, 16:24; 6, Ray Schireman, NM, 16:25; 7, Kenny Freeman, R, 16:26; 8, Blake Spencer, NM, 16:26; 9, Camden Stemple, SM, 16:28; 10, Daniel Stoiber, C, 16:31.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES — South Eugene 40, Crater 51, South Medford 65, Sheldon 71, North Medford 145, Roseburg 185, Grants Pass 189, Thurston 201.

TOP 10 INDIVIDUALS — 1, Sara Tsai, SE, 18:30; 2, Sarah Hastings, C, 18:33; 3, Erin Clark, SE, 18:36; 4, Gracie Todd, S, 18:51; 5, Paige Kouba, SE, 18:55; 6, Gracie Tostenson, C, 18:57; 7, Lauren Morgan, SM, 19:04; 8, Maggie Schmaedick, S, 19:15; 9, Kelsi Klotter, S, 19:29; 10, Carmen Mejia, SM, 19:30.

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