Hood River Valley senior Christy Paul traveled to Lane Community College last Saturday with a different goal than in 2001, when she won the state 4A cross-country title.
Instead of overwhelming herself with pressure and breaking her back trying to prove a point, Paul entered the 2002 race with a much different attitude.
“My goal going in was top five,” said the three-year HRV cross-country star, who added a fifth place medal to her first and third place awards. “It wasn’t a PR for me, but I was pretty happy with how I did.”
Paul and her coach Kristen Uhler noted that the 2002 field was deeper and more competitive than last year, and all the girls chasing Paul in 2001 had one more year of experience this year.
“The 4A field was incredibly strong this year,” said Uhler, who has watched Paul mature from a quiet competitor as a sophomore to a team leader as a senior.
“There was a lot of pressure on all the girls this year, and I know Christy felt it, too. But she had a great performance and finished off a really solid, consistent high-school career.”
Uhler noted that one of Paul’s rivals, Emily McMahon of Mountain View — the Intermountain Conference champ — finished ninth, and even though Paul was unable to keep pace with South Eugene’s Erin Gray down the stretch, she still has much to be proud of.
“Christy ran at the pace she wanted to and was able to stay toward the front for most of the race,” she said. “The difference this year was that three or four other girls were at the same pace.”
Paul finished 30 seconds behind Gray, whose winning time of 18:14 was the second-fastest in meet history.
Next up, Paul, Gray and the rest of Oregon’s elite will compete at the Nike Border Clash on Nov. 23.
“This time, I’m hoping for top three,” Paul said.