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For Coolidge, it was mission accomplished

EUGENE — Trevor Coolidge has been a runner on a mission.

The St. Mary's High senior trained all summer, participating in a couple of running camps along the way, and then took on big-name runners from bigger schools throughout the fall.

His mission of winning a state cross country championship came to fruition Saturday at Lane Community College when he dominated the Class 2A boys meet.

Coolidge swept over the 5,000-meter course in 16 minutes, 30 seconds to beat runner-up Mark Welch of Neah-Kah-Nie by 24 seconds.

He was 32nd as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and second last year, St. Mary's coach Joe Volk said of Coolidge. What happened today was a process that started right after last year's state meet.

Coolidge matched strides with a slew of 4A and 3A runners this fall and had his share of success.

He won the State of Jefferson meet in Ashland and the Chieftain Classic in Rogue River, where he achieved his lifetime best time of 15:51. He finished second to Klamath Union's Lauren Jesperson at the Yreka Invitational and seventh at a big meet in Southern California.

All that competition against quality runners proved advantageous Saturday.

Coolidge ran stride-for-stride with Welch for the opening two miles but then burst into the lead and never looked back.

I really felt prepared for this race, Coolidge said. When you've run in as many big meets as I have then a meet like this isn't nearly as intimidating.

Coolidge faded from first to second last year and from second to fourth in 1998 over the final 500 meters. But there was no catching him this time.

I made sure I was ready, he said.

With Mark Welch finishing second and his brother Peter ninth, Neah-Kah-Nie won the 2A boys title with 53 points. Enterprise was second with 91, followed by Catlin Gabel with 92 and Oakridge with 113.

— Phoenix was among the favorites to win the 3A boys title, but those hopes took a big hit earlier this week when the Pirates? best runner, Nathan May, sprained his ankle playing basketball and had to miss the state meet.

The Pirates still finished ninth thanks to strong efforts by freshman Kyle Gillette and sophomore Lalo Flores. Gillette finished 14th individually in 17:02 and Flores was 22nd in 17:18.

Molalla won the 3A boys title with 106 points.

— Klamath Union looked poised to repeat as the 4A boys champion until Jesperson, one of the favorites, ran out of energy two miles into the race and walked the final 300 meters to the finish line.

Jesperson, who was ninth at state last year as a freshman, finished in last place behind 147 other runners.

The Pelicans, who were seeking their third title in four years, still managed to take third with 155 points.

Jesuit claimed the crown with 86 points and Bend was second with 98.

He was still in the top five coming around the ponds, but you could tell something was wrong, Klamath Union coach Marnie Johnson said of Jesperson. And then the bottom dropped out. We don't know what happened.

Lane Neely of Bend outdueled Joey Hambrick of David Douglas in a spirited sprint to the finish for the win. Neely was clocked in 15:35 and Hambrick in 15:38. South Eugene's Eric Heinonen was third in 15:50 and Klamath Union's Jacob Gomez fourth in 16:00.

South Medford's Shaun Olson was 21st in 16:35.

Reach reporter at 776-4469, or e-mail him at dhunt@mailtribune.com