By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Casey Pugh, through his allocades and his hashtag-winning performances for Stayton the last two year he had never done one thing:
Win the Oregon West Conference-Title.
As his female teammates wrapped up their race, Pugh and his team were lining up for a possible two-peat performance and though the senior runner never has brought home that Boys District Title, that was the furthest from his mind as they lined up for their last hurrah as a unit.
“I just knew that I was going to run hard for my team and that was about it,” said Pugh. “I wasn’t worried the speed of my Senior year or anything, it’s just me going out, go out for a nice run.”
The gun went off and everyone went out for the 5K race.
As they entered the trees for the first time, Pugh was toe-to-toe with everyone and by the time they exited the trees to go back around for the second lap, Pugh and Matt Frazuer were one-two.
Pugh knew his teammate was right there, knowing how he breathes and runs from training with the junior, but he stayed the course through the second lap and as they entered the rubber track for the final 300 meters, it was almost inevitable that Pugh will get that elusive Title.
And as he crosses the finish-line, he slows and turns around with his arms in the air as Frazuer crosses the line; Pugh collapses on the ground and Frazuer was bent over next to him.
“It’s been a long time coming, my freshman year I was about two spots or three spots from going to State. I was really bummed,” “Then coming back from my sophomroe year, I finally got being able to go to State and going into the next year, ‘Ok this is my year. I’m going to run my hardest and run the fastest and be the first guy over and when I didn’t do that, it was like, ‘shoot, I’m still not invincible yet’.
“And this this year, I knew I had to train and train and train. Just run my heart out, just give everything I got everyday out at practice and that’s what I did this year.”
As they went back to the tent, Frazuer was being helped by Ben Kirby, who finished third in the race, Pugh couldn’t be prouder of his teammate as he graduates and Frazuer takes over the top of the racing ranks in 2018.
“It just reassures me that we’re going to be a threat at State, I’m happy for him, he’s probably going to win it next year and that’s a good deal for him,” said Pugh on Frazuer.
Kirby, who finished with a 16:57.7 time at the District race, points to Frazuer who was pushing him to get third to help ensure their second-straight Title.
“It feels pretty good because that was our goal coming in,” said Kirby on winning another District Title. “Matt was really pushing me to get third today so we could take out the Top 3 and then we were trying to get each other, bump some other people back…just secure the win.”
As for watching his teammate in Pugh winning a District Title, it was awesome to see for the sophomore.
“It was good, I was hoping to see it happen,” said Kirby. “Luckly enough I was close enough to watch it this time, during Track I didn’t get to see it happen so it was really good, it was probably a special moment for him senior year walking away with the win.”
On the girls side, freshman Hailey Notman finished second with a 19:44.1 time and qualifying the frosh for her first State Race at the High School level.
“It was fun, it was painful. It’s pretty cool, as a freshman you get to go to State,” said the quiet Notman. “Just trying by best and being with my team out there.”
Speaking of that.
The Lady Eagles squad, who saw Skyla Anderson (6th), Jessie Mitchell (14th), Bridget Spencer (17th), and Alyssa Cudd (19th) finish in the Top 20, helped Stayton get the second-lowest score at the meet of 58 that qualified the unit for the State Meet as a team.
Mitchell, who went to State in 2016 as a freshman and was the lone Stayton Girls runner last year, was excited to see her and her team go this season as a sophomore
“It’s really cool, I’m really excited that we get to go as a team this year,” said Mitchell. .”That’s pretty cool, I’m really excited.”
The State Meet will be November 4 at Lane Community College in Eugene.
Pictures By Jeremy McDonald