Stewart claims state cross country crown

EUGENE — A Vale senior brought home the school’s first individual state cross country championship over the weekend.

Vale’s cross country program won the state title as a team in 1993.

Trevor Stewart won the boys state title by just one second Saturday, Nov. 4, at Lane Community College in Eugene.

Stewart won the race with a time of 16:18, besting Enterprise’s Jett Leavitt, who finished second, with a time of 16:19.

Stewart, along with Addie Saunders, a sophomore who finished in the top 20 for the girls, represented Vale at the state meet.

Stewart and Saunders were among the top five finishers in the 5,000-meter race at the district championships in Pendleton, qualifying them for the state championships tournament.

Stewart said he went into Saturday’s race with instructions from his coaches to stay behind the leaders until the final stretch of the contest. What was different in Saturday’s race, Stewart said, was that he had to be far enough ahead of one of the other speedy runners whom he was not sure he could beat at the finish line.

Stewart said once he got far enough ahead, he was confident enough to make his move and he knew that he could out-sprint the leaders because they had been leading the pack for the majority of the race.

The importance of bringing home a state title in cross country is not lost on Stewart.

“It just brings a lot of pride to the school,” he said.

Stewart was not even born when another Viking runner came close to winning the state championship.

Dan Gardner, former coach of the Vale cross country program, said Adam Fugate came close to winning the individual state championship in 1993.

Stewart said a 5,000-meter race gives him a lot of time to think ­– the race took about 16 minutes ­– ­ and there were parts where he questioned himself. He said he overcame the self-doubt in the end.

“There were times when I thought, ‘I’m okay with second. I’m okay with third. I’m losing to this kid.’ There were lots of kids who started that race very confidently, but the race isn’t over until it’s over.”

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article did not note that the Vale cross country program won the state title as a team in 1993. The article has been updated to note the 1993 team’s accomplishments.

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Vale’s Trevor Stewart, a senior, crosses the finish line Saturday, Nov. 4, to win the state cross country championship. Stewart was the first Vale cross country runner to win a state title. (Ken Martinez/West Coast XC)