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Ashland running star Holland chooses Oregon

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TALENT — Ashland High distance running phenom EJ Holland announced his college choice in a most appropriate way: at the end of an impressive season debut Saturday in the Rogue XC Invitational.

The senior held his hands to his chest, with thumbs and index fingers connecting to form an “O,” the well-known symbol for the University of Oregon.

Holland is going to compete for the Ducks, confirming his choice in a post-race interview with Mail Tribune photographer Andy Atkinson.

“I committed to the University of Oregon last week,” said Holland, who sat out Ashland’s early-season meets to focus on training. “Go Ducks! I’m super excited. I can’t wait to get up there and be a part of the U of O. It’s a great program and I’m super excited.”

Holland posted his decision to Instagram earlier in the week but chose a public display Saturday as he entered the finish chute. He patted the “A” representing Ashland on his chest, then “threw the ‘O.’”

“I’m really glad I have the opportunity to go somewhere that has so much history,” Holland said in a phone interview Saturday evening. “It’s a really big deal to come from Oregon and be able to go to Oregon. It’s a really cool thing.”

He chose the Ducks over three other finalists: Washington, Colorado and Northern Arizona.

“I really felt like the U of O was fit me the best,” said Holland. “It’s so close to home, and having such a running history and having so much support for running there, I felt like it was just the best place for me in so many aspects.”

Holland captured the 5,000-meter race on the Colver Sports Park course in 14 minutes, 57.53 seconds. The time was just 41/2 seconds off his personal best, established last fall.

“It was great, it was all fun,” said Holland. “It was a just a rust-buster. This is my first race. I was just kind of coming in and feeling it out, get my legs used to the pace. There are a few kinks to work out, but overall it was a really good season opener. There’s a long way to improve, which is nice, but it was a good starting point for sure.”

Holland paced the Grizzlies to the team victory. They scored 35 points to runner-up Crater’s 54 and third-place South Medford’s 55.

In the girls race, Crater senior Presley Robison cruised to the individual title in 19:50.61. She beat out runner-up Sophia Stubblefield, of Phoenix, who clocked 19:58.38, and Phoenix’s Kyla Potratz, whose time was 20:04.61.

Robison paced the Comets to the team win with 44 points. South Medford and Phoenix tied for second with 73 points.

“It was good,” said Robison. “It started out pretty fast. The first mile was really packed.”

She was hesitant to push to the front because “I usually don’t lead races,” she said.

“But all in all, it was good,” Robison added. “It was a little hot out. This course is always pretty hard because it’s all grass and bark. Considering the circumstances, I thought I did pretty well.”

Holland had reason to be pleased with his first race: Two years ago, he won the Rogue Invite in 16:14.7.

By dipping below 15 minutes, he was well ahead of South Medford chasers Truett Bostwick, the runner-up in 16:20.66, and third-place Michael Maiorano (16:24.41).

Ashland and Crater are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in a coaches poll for Oregon Class 5A teams.

The Grizzlies, who have been impressive in a couple big meets without Holland, did not go all out Saturday.

“We’re really strong this year,” said Holland. “I’m really happy with a how the guys are doing. A bunch of the guys ran it as just kind of a workout today and ran with some other guys. We weren’t really going for too much of a team kind of thing, but it was good.”

“When we’re at full force,” he added, “we’re going to be pretty hard to beat. So I’m really excited, especially for the postseason.”

Holland will join a hallowed Oregon program. The Ducks began this cross country season with a national ranking of 11th.

Holland enjoyed a decorated junior year and was roundly hailed as one of the top high school runners in the nation.

He was selected for the all-USA boys track and field team, released by USA TODAY High School Sports in conjunction with Track and Field News.

Holland won the Class 5A state championship in cross country and claimed two titles in track and field, setting state meet-record times for 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

He followed those achievements with personal records in high-powered invitational meets in June.

His cross country state crown last fall at Lane Community College in Eugene came in 15:30 and was on the heels of a regular season in which he was unbeaten and three times breezed under 15 minutes.

Holland’s meet records at state track were 8:13.10 for the 3,000 and 3:51.92 for the 1,500.

In the first two weeks of June, he competed against collegians in invitationals.

He lowered his personal best in the 1,500 to 3:46.59 in the Portland Track Festival High Performance meet. He then ripped off a 2-mile time of 8:50.29 in the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle.

Holland’s list of awards included being named the boys cross country runner of the year for the 2019 Oregon Sports Awards.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES: Ashland 35, Crater 54, South Medford 55, Mt. Shasta (Calif.) 112, Yreka (Calif.) 158, Phoenix 183, Henley 199, Mazama 202, Central Valley 236, Weed 276 (Calif.).

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10): 1, EJ Holland, Ash, 14:57.53; 2, Truett Bostwick, SM, 16:20.66; 3, Michael Maiorano, SM, 16:24.41; 4, Gage Reed, Cra, 16:24.65; 5, Reed Pryor, Ash, 16:26.15; 6, Alexis Ramirez, MS, 16:26.67; 7, Matthew Schenk, Cra, 16:27.12; 8, Cameron Stein, Ash, 16:49.72; 9, Tyrone Gorze, Cra, 16:50.87; 10, Vincent Senn, Ash, 16:52.15.

LOCAL RESULTS

ASHLAND (35): 1, EJ Holland, 14:57.53; 5, Reed Pryor, 16:26.15; 8, Cameron Stein, 16:49.72; 10, Vincent Senn, 16:52.15; 14, Nathan Stein, 17:09.36.

CRATER (54): 4, Gage Reed, 16:24.65; 7, Matthew Schenk, 16:27.12; 9, Tyrone Gorze, 16:50.87; 12, JC Herring, 17:03.12; 28, Matthew Medina, 18:11.36.

SOUTH MEDFORD (55): 2, Truett Bostwick, 16:20.66; 3, Michael Maiorano, 16:24.41; 13, Ethan Foster, 17:08.61; 19, Connor Singer, 17:25.11; 22, DJ Scott, 17:39.53.

PHOENIX (183): 21, Noah Marshall, 17:37.11; 33, Elwood Hosking, 18:34.47; 36, Dilan Mathieu, 18:46.44; 51, Marcello Camargo, 19:56.69; 66, Adriel Gamez, 22:01.25.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES: Crater 44, South Medford 73, Phoenix 73, Ashland 97, Mt. Shasta (Calif.) 101, Henley 117.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10): 1, Presley Robison, Cra, 19:50.61; 2, Sophia Stubblefield, Pho, 19:58.38; 3, Kyla Potratz, Pho, 20:04.61; 4, Sage Reddish, Ash, 20:23.47; 5, Emily Nash, SM, 20:27.28; 6, Jennifer Ruiz, Modoc, 20:30.3; 7, Jade Hopkins, Cra, 20:42.55; 8, Gabi Wisnovsky, SM, 21:13.11; 9, Haylee Baldwin, Cra, 21:29.25; 10, Lindie Larson, MS, 21:35.28.

LOCAL RESULTS

CRATER (44): 1, Presley Robison, 19:50.61; 7, Jade Hopkins, 20:42.55; 9, Haylee Baldwin, 21:29.25; 13, Gracen Hokanson, 21:55.97; 20, Lily Young, 22:47.02.

SOUTH MEDFORD (73): 5, Emily Nash, 20:27.28; 8, Gabi Wisnovsky, 21:13.11; 15, Emma Schmerbach, 22:22.47; 26, Caitlin Fugate, 23:25.78; 28, Jasmine Lopez, 23:30.66.

PHOENIX (73): 2, Sophia Stubblefield, 19:58.38; 3, Kyla Potratz, 20:04.61; 17, Heidi Taylor, 22:35.69; 23, Sienna Bauer, 22:56.8; 37, Clarice Mathewson, 24:28.94.

ASHLAND (97): 4, Sage Reddish, 20:23.47; 14, Milan Hague, 21:57.83; 16, Annika Wells, 22:23.4; 29, Stella Mason, 23:34.8; 34, Abigail Bloom, 23:55.38.

DE LA SALLE NIKE: At Portland, North Medford finished 21st at the De LaSalle Nike Invitational at Newhall Park.

Sophomore Trey Driskell led the way with a 35th-place finish with a time of 16 minutes, 27.80 seconds.

Senior Joshua Scull also finished in the top 100 with a 17:29.46 time, placing 99th.

Grant Lulich (17:48.35), Aiden Vanderhoof (18:36.96) and Jace Garibay (18:43.01) also scored for the Black Tornado.

PREFONTAINE MEMORIAL: At Coos Bay, Grants Pass raced to first place in the Prefontaine Memorial 5K Run.

The Cavemen scored 39 points to best runne-up Roseburg (72). St. Mary’s took eighth (205).

Cascade Christian sophomore Jake Sorani was sixth in the boys 5,000-meter race in 17:01.3.

Grants Pass’ Ethan Bland (16;25.6) was third and Bryce Hobbs (16:50.6) fifth.

St. Mary’s was led by Logan Diaz McNeal, who was 38th in 18:57.3. David Noble finished 44th in 19:12.8. Other scorers for the Crusaders were Cody Arnold (19:56.8), Owen Gramley (20:22.7) and Eric Lingyi Wang (20:35.2).

Others for Cascade Christian were Ty Havniear (19:28.1), Carson Casey (19:35.4) and Austin Skelton (25:32.2).

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Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAshland’s EJ Holland gives the ‘O’ sign as he crosses the finish line winning the Rogue XC Invite Saturday in Talent.
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