Featuring 2019 winners Evan “EJ” Holland and Fiona Max
The second of 13 Oregon Sports Awards prep award preseason watch lists to be featured throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.
Today, it’s cross country. We highlight eight of the state’s top respective boys and girls distance runners to follow closely this fall.
This list intends to serve as a helpful guide for the Oregon Sports Awards team and media partners in identifying possible nominees throughout the fall. Members of the OSAA, along with coaches and athletic directors, can also submit nomination requests during the season.
Six boys and six girl spanning all OSAA classifications will be nominated for the Prep X-Country Runner of the Year award following the OSAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 9. Members of the OSAA and Sport Oregon staffs, along with select media members will then vote on a winner and two additional finalists for each gender
Evan “E.J.” Holland
2019 outlook: Holland, who posted the 24th-fastest 5,000m time (14:53.20) nationally in 2018, will be the overwhelming favorite to win his second straight 5A State Championship and Prep Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award. He set meet records in the 1,500m and 3,000m at the 5A Track and Field Championships in May and excels in both middle and long distance races.
School: Forrest Grove
2019 outlook: One of the preseason favorites to claim the 6A State Championship. Norman boasts the classification’s top returning time (15:17.30) and made the podium in the 3,00m at the 6A Track and Field Championships in May.
2019 outlook: Palmer was one second away from winning the 6A crown last season, falling to state champion and Prep Boys X-Country Runner of the Year finalist Ethan Reese. He’ll be pushed to elevate all season in a deep Portland Interscholastic League and by teammate Charlie Robertson, who placed seventh at the 2018 state meet.
2019 outlook: Only Holland enters the fall with a faster 5,000m personal record. Ibrahim clocked a personal best of 15:17.20 to win the Northwest Oregon Conference Championship in 2018 and is the best bet to challenge Holland for the 5A title, and perhaps more.
2019 outlook: Appears poised to claim the 3A State Championship after finishing second at the Steens Mountain High Altitude Uphill 5k in 21:22.20 in July. Took second in the 3A State Championships and was one of five freshmen to place inside the top-10.
2019 outlook: Bennett could enjoy the biggest jump at the top of the 6A heap this fall. He improved his personal record from 16:09 to 15:39 in 2018 and is fresh off a top-10 finish at the state championships. With strong tradition and coaching at Jesuit, Bennett is a good bet to contend for the 6A title and post one of the state’s top times.
2019 outlook: Was the most consistent runner at the 4A level in 2018 and is the top returning finisher from the 4A State Championships (16:15, third). He’ll likely find himself nominated for this award with a sub-16:00 time and first place finish at the state meet.
2019 outlook: Holland’s training partner is one of the top returners at the 5A ranks. Davis took fourth at the 5A State Championships in 15:59 and gives the Grizzlies a serious chance to claim the top-two finishes at the state meet come November.
2019 outlook: Max is attempting to become the first repeat 6A State Champion and Prep Girls X-Country Runner of the Year since 2016. Former Grant General and current Stanford distance runner Ella Donaghu was the last to accomplish the feat from 2013-2016. Max returns for her senior year with the fastest girls 5,000m time (17:28.60).
2019 outlook: She’s looking to finally get over the proverbial hump in state championship competition. Huelskamp has notched two top-five finishes at the 6A Cross Country Championships and finished second to Max in the 3,000m at the OSAA 6A Track and Field Championships in May. Pencil her in as one of the top contenders for the 6A crown and this award.
2019: One of several talented underclassmen to keep an eye on this fall. Max’s teammate finished fifth (18:01) at the 6A State Championship and is the fourth-fastest returner, having clocked a 5,000m time of 17:47.30 at the Warner Pacific XC Classic in October.
2019 outlook: Kane is arguably just scratching the surface of her potential. She made the podium at the 2018 6A State Championship in her first season of cross country and has cracked the top-10 in the 3,000m at the past two 6A Track and Field Championships. Kane has spent the last two years training alongside 2019 Prep X-Country Runner of the Year finalist Kyla Becker and under Cardinals head coach and former University of Oregon distance runner Eric Dettman.
School: South Eugene
2019 outlook: Elmore is the only returning runner to have unseated Max in a state championship race. She out-kicked Max in the 1,500m at the 6A Track and Field Championships in May to win the race by one-tenth of a second in 4:27.13. Elmore has sat out the last two 6A Cross Country Championships with injury, but can place highly at the state meet and possibly, Nike BorderClash and NXR Northwest Regional Championships.
2019 outlook: She won the 800m at the 6A Track and Field Championships this spring and is a member of one of the state’s premier cross country and distance running programs. Forester’s foot speed, coupled with the coaching she’ll receive and year in school, make her a not-so-dark horse to contend for the Metro League and 6A Cross Country Championship titles.
2019 outlook: Bergeron is gunning for her third consecutive 4A State Championship. She battled injuries throughout the track and field season, but should Bergeron stay healthy and win the state meet come Nov. 9, she’ll yield a distinction as a three-time state champion that no other girls runner in Oregon possesses.
School: Hood River Valley
2019 outlook: She’ll aim to win her second straight 5A State Championship for the Eagles, which boasted the top-two finishers at the meet and claimed the team title as well. Dickinson is the top returner at the 5A ranks, with more than 20 seconds separating her personal record (18:07.40) from the classification’s second-fastest returning runner – senior Samantha Prusse of Wilsonville (18:28.50).