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Freshman Schmerbach claims SWC crown

It didn’t take long for Emma Schmerbach to reach elite status in the annals of South Medford history.

The freshman phenom notched another fantastic feat Wednesday by winning the Southwest Conference district cross country championship, pulling away from Sheldon senior Melissa Berry in the girls 5,000-meter race.

“From the perspective of South Medford history, she is by far and away the greatest runner that South Medford High School has ever seen,” South coach Josh Wallace said.

Schmerbach’s time of 18:38.1 at Medford National Little League Fields wasn’t close to a personal record, but time wasn’t her goal for the race; she simply focused on getting the win, her fifth in seven races this season.

Berry stayed neck-and-neck with Schmerbach from the start, but around the 600-meter mark the two started pushing hard. And when they turned the corner on the very the backside of the course, Schmerbach pulled away and distanced herself from Berry by more than 10 seconds.

“I wasn’t expecting to start kicking so soon, but I was expecting it was going to be a hard finish,” Schmerbach said. “I was just so exhausted, I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

“I thought I went out pretty well and throughout the whole race I thought I did a really good job of staying in the front pack,” she added.

As for the state championship race, where Schmerbach hopes to place in the top eight and set a PR, she’ll have her teammates with her: South qualified as a team for state by placing third overall.

Senior Jazmin Duncan (10th in 20:01.5), junior Deanndria Shields (14th in 20:51.5), junior Emily McAllister (20th in 21:15.7) and junior Abby Burton (26th in 21:47.3) scored points to push the Panthers forward.

The state meet is Nov. 4 at Lane Community College in Eugene. The top three teams, and individuals in the top 10 not already on those teams, advanced.

“Our goal was to make it to state, and they snuck in on the third spot and I’m just real proud of the way they ran,” Wallace said. “We talked last night about how all of them collectively needed to have good races — they didn’t have to have the race of their life, but they all needed to be solid — and that’s what they did today.”

The North Medford girls also qualified as a team for state, finishing second with 43 points to Sheldon’s 36.

The Black Tornado placed five runners in the top 13 — senior M.J. Hamilton (sixth in 19:47.8), freshman Emily Nash (seventh in 19:49.9), senior Victoria Messer (eighth in 19:49.9), senior Claire Ebert (ninth in 19:50.0) and junior Sarah Krick (13th in 20:45.5) — one of the best if not the best finishes in school history, North coach Piet Voskes said.

“I thought we ran just about as close to a perfect race for us as we could,” Voskes said.

“Our girls were instructed that the team was everything and they were to run together and sacrifice individual success for team success and they did that,” he added. “I thought their leadership in the race was outstanding. … They took care of each other. They were basically a family on the course.”

The South Medford boys team achieved its goal by reaching state, finishing second overall with 73 points behind team champion South Eugene’s 40.

Senior co-captain Luke Ramirez finished ninth overall in the 5,000-meter race to pace the Panthers, while sophomore Truett Bostwick (12th), senior Ty Boster (14th), junior Reed Hungerford (18th) and junior Johan Jordaan (20th) rounded out the scoring for South.

“I’m glad to finish in the top 10, but more importantly our team came in second, so that’s the good part,” Ramirez said.

“It’s something that we’ve come so close to doing in the past two years — it was just a couple points (short),” he added. “So we knew this was our last year to do it and we knew we had the guys to do it, so I take a lot of pride in it because we worked really hard for it.”

North Medford’s boys will be represented at state by junior Jacob Allmaras, who was third in 16:20.1, behind winner Daniel Beckstead of Grants Pass (16:07.7) and runner-up B.J. Sauter of South Eugene (16:17.0).

Allmaras, who came out with far more aggression early in the race than usual, will be making his third trip to state in three years.

“He placed himself where he needed to be instead of battling back into race,” Voskes said. “He was smart. He embedded himself where needed to be and maintained his composure.”

Boys

TEAM SCORES: South Eugene 40, South Medford 73, Grants Pass 76, Sheldon 82, Roseburg 96, North Medford 127.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 25): 1, Daniel Beckstead, GP, 16:07.7; 2, B.J. Sauter, SE, 16:17.0; 3, Jacob Allmaras, NM, 16:20.1; 4, Hunter Agsten, Rose, 16:21.0; 5, Vincent Mestler, Shel, 16:24.3; 6, Peter Shen, SE, 16:24.4; 7, Nathan Burton, GP, 16:26.8; 8, Nate Tavakolian, SE, 16:28.4; 9, Luke Ramirez, SM, 16:30.9; 10, Andrew Hall, Shel, 16:35.9;

11, Ian Twyman, SE, 16:37.0; 12, Truett Bostwick, SM, 16:39.5; 13, Spencer McNall, SE, 16:56.2; 14, Ty Boster, SM, 16:56.6; 15, Isaac Burgess, GP, 17:00.9; 16, Kelly Shedd, Shel, 17:01.1; 17, Zachary Traul, Rose, 17:03.0; 18, Reed Hungerford, SM, 17:05.5; 19, Elijah Hansen, Rose, 17:09.3; 20, Johan Jordaan, SM, 17:11.0; 21, Grayson Mazziotti, Shel, 17:17.9; 22, Peyton Schlafke, NM, 17:18.7; 23, Dylan Kalnbach, SE, 17:22.1; 24, Liam Monroe, SE, 17:22.9; 25, Dimitri Underwood, GP, 17:28.9.

Girls

TEAM SCORES: Sheldon 36, North Medford 43, South Medford 71, Grants Pass 84, South Eugene 104, Roseburg 163.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 25): 1, Emma Schmerbach, SM, 18:38.1; 2, Melissa Berry, Shel, 18:48.2; 3 Caramia Mestler, Shel,19:13.4; 4, Kaylin Sheley, Shel, 19:22.8; 5, Faith Schultz, GP, 19:39.4; MJ Hamilton, NM, 19:47.8; 7, Emily Nash, NM, 19:49.9; 8, Victoria Messer, NM, 19:49.9; 9, Claire Ebert, NM, 19:50.0; 10, Jazmin Duncan, SM, 20:01.5;

11, Jennifer Shelton, Shel, 20:14.5; 12, Kate Bouse, SE, 20:41.0; 13, Sarah Krick, NM, 20:45.5; 14, Deanndria Shields, SM, 20:51.5; 15, Melody McGrath, GP, 21:00.0; 16, Madelyn Hubbs, Shel, 21:03.3; 17, Abby Durrant, GP, 21:03.3; 18, Isabell Webber, Rose, 21:07; 19, Samantha Dara, GP, 21:14.4; 20, Emily McAllister, SM, 21:15.7; 21, Gretchen Schwartz, SE, 21:19.4; 22, Jordyn Holland, SE, 21:24.6; 23, Mikaela Mosher, Shel, 21:38.4; 24, Delaney Bloomer, SE, 21:39.1; 25, Samara Park, SE, 21:45.7.

Reach reporter Mike Oxendine at 541-776-4499 or moxendine@mailtribune.com

South Medford's Emma Schmerbach finishes the Southwest Conference Championships with a winning time of 18:38.1 on Wednesday at Medford National Little League Fields. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE] [PHOTO BY: LARRY STAUTH JR]
North Medford's Jacob Allmaras finished third in the Southwest Conference Championships just in front of Roseburg's Hunter Agsten on Wednesday. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]