One half of the Knappa cross country team will have a good shot at a league title, while the other half is starting over as the Loggers get ready for the start of the 2003 season.

Both the Knappa boys and girls teams qualified for the state meet last year, the first time in school history that both squads made the trip to Eugene.

The Logger boys - who took third at state - are basically a lock to return, while the Knappa girls will just have to worry about fielding a complete team in the big meets.

Currently, there are only three girls who plan to run - senior Kristina Johnson and freshmen Kirsty Coghill and Amanda Nichols.

The Loggers lost Rene'e Evans, Eliza Heavenrich and Tonya Olds to graduation, while Tracie Nygaard and Ali Gerttula have decided to play volleyball.

Nygaard would have been a cinch to win this year's district title according to Knappa coach Gary Jacobson, especially with Catlin Gabel and Oregon Episcopal now competing in the West Valley League instead of District 1/2A.

"Our girls are way down," Jacobson said. "We had four good years with Tonya and that class.

"With Mr. (Terry) Hardy coaching volleyball, he's a great coach, and he just draws kids. He's going to try and get some of the girls to run in a few meets where there's no conflict of schedules. He'll encourage them to do that, and of course we'll take 'em, because we need at least two more runners to score as a team."

Should Nygaard and Gerttula run, there's still a chance the Loggers could field a complete team and make it to state, because only four teams fielded complete teams in last year's district meet.

And with Catlin Gabel now competing in a different district, that list has been trimmed to three. The top two squads go to state.

Knappa started the 2002 season with only three girls, and ended up taking a team to state, where the Loggers finished eighth in the team standings.

The Logger boys return four of their top seven runners, including seniors Toivo Fransen and Nick Jacobson, while senior Brad Salisbury - last year's No. 1 junior varsity runner - could also be in the mix.

Blake Gerttula is back for his junior season, and the Loggers have a healthy sophomore class, which includes Matt Acuna, Ian Dukes, Derek Jacobson, Beve Maki, Curtis Olds, Brentin Salisbury and Jordan Shear.

Knappa has two incoming freshmen, Paul and Ryan Isom.

"Nick will probably be the No. 1 runner, and Toivo and Curtis will be right in there, too," coach Jacobson said. "Nick looks a lot stronger. He came on pretty good last spring in track. He actually enjoys running now, and that's made a difference."

Nick Jacobson is planning "to try and chase Jesse (Brockey's) school record," coach Jacobson said. "He knocked 40-some seconds off his 1,500 last spring, and he's really mentally focused and up to the challenge. He's been working hard on some real long runs."

In addition to Nick Jacobson, "Toivo is stronger than he was last year," said the coach. "All the kids are stronger than what they were last year, and they're real excited about this season.

"Nick, Toivo and Curtis will be the top three, and Blake will be a good, strong runner for us. I just don't know who my fifth, sixth and seventh runners are going to be."

Jacobson is hoping Brad Salisbury will take the fifth spot, and "Beve Maki is looking real good," he added. "We just haven't practiced enough to see how it's all going to pan out. We'll find out in our first meet."

Meanwhile, "all those sophomores are going to be fine," Jacobson said. "I know Curtis will be up there, and Brentin looked real good in the Portland-to-Coast. Derek has some problems with the arch in his foot, where he had the fracture in baseball. It bothered him in the Portland-to-Coast, and we'll have to wait and see."

Overall, District 1/2A is down from last year, with the Loggers graduating three (Mike Allen, Kevin Maki, David Pearson) of their top seven, and Neah-Kah-Nie losing its top three runners - two to graduation, and junior Andrew Nieman has transferred to Tillamook.

"That kind of hurt them," Jacobson said of the traditionally strong Pirates. "And without Catlin and OES, that makes our league a lot weaker, as far as representation at state. But I think it will probably be us and Neah-Kah-Nie for the boys. I've got four of my top seven back, so we should be fairly strong. We should be the team to beat in league, but things change and you never know. I have no idea for the girls."

The Loggers will host this year's District championship meet, providing Knappa with even more incentive to win a district title.

"I know the boys definitely want to go out and win district," Jacobson said. "We'll see how these knuckleheads work out."

Warrenton will field a cross country team this fall, with just a few runners on the list after the first week of practice. So far, the Warriors have Rebecca Fisk and Jennifer Lampert for the girls, and Sam Higgins for the boys.

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