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Despite slip, Phoenix’s Vos places third

EUGENE — Robby Vos’ goal was to win the race.

That’s how Todd would have approached it, too.

To that end, Vos made a calculated, definitive move during a crucial juncture in the Class 4A boys cross country state championships at Lane Community College on Saturday.

Todd might have done something similar.

That Vos slipped on the 5,000-meter course made soggy and slick from daylong rains, bumping him off pace and out of kilter, was important, certainly. But so, too, was the conviction the Phoenix junior mustered in making the move.

As Todd might have.

Todd is Todd Ragsdale, the popular runner from Talent who went missing while on a light run in January and was found dead after a 2 ½-day search.

Ragsdale was on Vos’ mind Saturday — and on his colorful aqua and yellow shoes, on which the Pirate wrote: “Run like Todd.”

Vos didn’t know Ragsdale really well, but they ran together occasionally.

Vos won a race in Ragsdale’s honor in July. Proceeds went to the cross country program at Phoenix, from which Ragsdale graduated.

“We always run with Todd in our hearts,” said Vos. “Everybody in the running community knew him because he was so out there.”

Vos entered state with the top 4A time and on Saturday jockeyed for the lead with two others for the first 4K. Then came his fateful move, leading to a third-place finish in 16 minutes, 19 seconds.

North Bend’s Michael Brown won in 16:13, and Scappoose’s John Kavulich was second in 16:17.

Vos’ finish was among the best for local runners as all classifications held their state championships on the site. Other top-10 placers, apart from 5A, were Phoenix’s Shayla Potratz, sixth among 4A girls, and St. Mary’s Emma Bennion, ninth for 3A/2A/1A girls.

With Vos and Jacob Bergren leading the way, the Phoenix boys trophied by placing third, while the St. Mary’s girls were one spot away from a trophy, placing fifth.

Vos figured he had to be the aggressor as the race wound down. As the runners entered the “bowl,” a downhill portion, he attempted to break away “for the win.”

“But I cut the corner too close,” he said, “and I slipped and kind of fell apart.”

“It’s a pretty vital point in the race,” he added.

Vos slid a bit down a hill, scrambled back up and didn’t give up too much ground.

“I think I went out too fast and I got tired and couldn’t stay up with the other two,” he said, referring to Kavulich and Bradley Rzewnicki of Seaside.

With 400 meters to go, Brown and Kavulich pulled away, but Vos kept Rzewnicki close enough that he overtook the Seaside runner just steps from the finish.

Bergren placed 14th in 16:58, helping the Pirates to 123 points. Valley Catholic won with 60, followed by Seaside with 76.

Potratz, a senior, ran a personal-best 19:34 and improved on her 15th place of a year ago.

“I was just going to go out there and race my best,” she said. “I mean, I’ve done this a million times before. I was just going to go out there and do what I know how to do.

“It was a tough race, and I’m happy with how it turned out.”

For St. Mary’s, the sophomore Bennion’s time was 19:50. The Crusaders scored 157 points, seven behind fourth-place Kennedy.

In the 6A girls race, South Medford placed 13th. Panthers senior Lydia Scott was 20th in 19:12.

North Medford sophomore Jacob Allmaras was the top local boy in 6A, placing 23rd in 16:19.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com

Phoenix's Robby Vos, center, fights for the lead at the two-mile marker during the Class 4A state championships Saturday in Eugene. PHOTO BY ANDY ATKINSON
Phoenix's Shayla Potratz climbs out of the soccer bowl at Lane Community College during the Class 4A state championships on Saturday. PHOTO BY ANDY ATKINSON