North boys, South girls qualify for state

EUGENE — The 5-kilometer Southwest Conference boys' cross country meet at Alton Baker Park turned into a 100-yard sprint, with South Eugene's Walker Augustyniak finishing one second ahead of North Medford senior Josh Paul for the win.

Augustyniak pulled ahead of Paul, the race's defending champion, with just 20 meters to go and held on. Paul let out a yell when his sprint to the finish came up short.

Augustyniak's time of 15 minutes, 59 seconds led the South Eugene boys to an upset of defending champion North Medford in the team competition. The South Eugene girls came away victorious as well.

Paul was one of four North Medford runners to finish in the top seven, earning the Black Tornado the conference's second automatic bid to state.

North Medford sophomore Drew Jordan finished in third.

"On any given day they could have traded places," North Medford co-coach Hans Voskes said of Augustyniak and Paul. "The kids ran really well."

Paul said the pace of the race caught him by surprise. Regardless, he was in the lead group throughout, and grabbed sole possession of first place with less than 1,000 meters to go. Paul said he and Augustyniak broke away from the rest of the pack and traded places over the last 150 meters.

"I wasn't expecting the pack up front," Paul said. "I didn't expect Walker (Augustyniak) to be up front. He ran a good race."

Pete Voskes, the other half of North Medford's father and son coaching tandem, said Augustyniak used Paul's draft to shoot around him just before the finish.

"He used this slingshot effect and took it," Pete Voskes said.

Augustyniak beat Paul by a hundredth of a second in the 1,500-meter race in the SWC's district track meet last year.

"This match up will be replayed over the next couple weeks and in the spring," Pete Voskes said.

Hans Voskes sensed coming into the race that it would take a team effort for his boys' squad to win the district.

"We knew going in that it was going to take five guys," Hans Voskes said. "We had four guys in the top seven. After that there was a bit of a drop off."

Sophomore Sean Lansing finished in the fifth spot for North Medford.

"He made a big move and ran a great PR," Hans Voskes said. "Without him we would have been buried even more."

South Eugene swept the meet, with its girls' squad finishing just ahead of South and North Medford for the district championship. Sophomore Sasha Tenity and teammate Lauren Graebner finished 1-2 for the Axemen.

The South Medford Panthers overtook the North Medford squad to earn their first trip to state under third-year coach Josh Wallace.

Thee Panthers, including junior Piper Delaney, who finished in third, crossed the line before a single member of the North squad finished.

But, when the Tornado contingent reached the line they all came together. Five Tornado runners, led by freshman Jennifer Zhu, were grouped together at the finish line in places 16 through 20.

Taylor Harrington and Riley Morgan of South Medford both registered personal records.

"Some of our girls picked us up by running the best races of their lives," Wallace said. "That's what cross country is all about — picking each other up."

Delaney said she was disappointed that she didn't win the race, but was pleased that her team earned a trip to state.

"I probably shouldn't have gone out so strong," Delaney said. "I'm excited, hopefully I'll get a better PR next week. I'm just excited that our team's going to state."

South Medford senior Joey Nelson finished 10th (16:52.06) and qualified for state as an individual. Nelson will be making his second consecutive trip to state.

The Class 6A state championships are held on Nov. 3 at Lane Community College. Entrants from the two winning teams earn trips to state. The top four individuals not already on those winning squads qualify.

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