SH’s Tanner Sayers fifth at state 4A cross-country championships

Scott Swanson

Tanner Sayers’ big goal, entering his junior cross-country season this year, was simply to make it to the state meet.

Saturday, he was pretty happy with a fifth-place finish at state.

Sayers ran 16:49 on a soggy course at Lane Community College to edge Tyler Anderson of Madras in a photo finish. Anderson was accorded the same time, but ruled as having finished just behind Sayers.

They finished behind winner John Kavulich of Scappoose (16:23), who led wire to wire, Jordan Pollard of Sisters (16:34), Robby Vos of Phoenix (16:47) and Matthew Frazeur of Stayton (16:47), also a junior.

Sayers said he got off to what he termed a “slow” start at the beginning of the race, running in about 10th place at the half-mile mark. By the second mile he’d moved up, right behind the leaders.

“I felt a little tired, then I loosened up mid-race,” he said. “I felt pretty good I was trying to hang with Pollard and Robbie Voss. I think I did pretty good.”

Coach Kambria Schumacher agreed.

“He was ranked fourth coming in, so that he placed close to where he was ranked was great,” she said. “Coming in from not qualifying for state the last couple of years, then coming in ranked is amazing. I’m really proud of him, that he completed what he set out to do.”

Crook County won the boys state team championship with 80 points, placing all five of its scorers between 10th and 21st, despite having to work their way up through the field.

Stayton was second with 96, Newport third (119) and Tillamook fourth (121).

In the girls championship race, Tillamook, led by individual champion Solace Bergeron, a sophomore, who ran 18:44, ran away from the competition to finish with 37 points, ahead of Scappoose (108), LaGrande (111), and Sisters (148).

Elmira’s Kaitlin Cook was the top Sky-Em individual finisher, 10th in 19:47.

Sayers plans to compete once more this season in the Nike BorderClash all-star meet, which pits the best runners from Oregon and Washington against each other Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton.

He said this season has progressed a lot differently than he’d anticipated, coming in after placing eighth in the district race last year as a sophomore in a personal-best 17:48.

“Starting the season, my goal was just to break 17 (minutes) and make it to state,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to place this year.

“After that second meet, when I broke 17 with a 16:43, I knew that I had a chance to place top 10 in the state. So that really affected it, that second race. Then I ran 16:19.”

His big improvement came after some dedicated summer running, at the end of which he was running nearly 50 miles a week.

“I’m always thinking about the other people that are working just as hard as me and put in that extra little bit,” he said. “Always working hard.”

Schumacher said Sayers handled the pressure of being at state well.

“A lot of the races we did this season, some of them were pretty big,” she said. “And he handled those just fine. He definitely did have some more nerves for this race but he handled himself really well.

More excited, I guess, than scared.”