Eyes Set on a Historic Season

Girls cross country team starts season strong


Reed Newton

Zoe Rector and Ella McGillis sprint to the finish at the Meriwether Invitational. Rector finished with a time of 18:30 in 7th, McGillis with a time of 18:31 in 9th.

     Although it is just the start of October, the varsity girls cross country team is looking towards Eugene on Nov. 5 for their first spot on the 6A state podium in Central Catholic history. 

     In her tenth year as head coach of the program, Robyn McGillis has high expectations and believes that the team is stronger than it has ever been before. 

     “The chemistry is really good, which is key, the girls have to run for each other, and they have been putting in the hard work all summer,” McGillis said. 

     When McGillis began coaching at Central Catholic, the girls team had never qualified for the state meet. Under McGillis, the girls team has now qualified for state in 2014, 2016, 2017-2019, 2020 (a mock meet) and 2021 with the highest ever placing of 7th occurring in 2021. 

     The first test for the team was on Sept. 16 at the Meriwether Cross Country Invitational, their first 5,000 meter race of the season. The race took place on a golf course filled with gravel paths. It began with a downhill start and was made up of two loops, the most significant hill occurring at around the 4,000 meter mark.

     McGillis noted The Rams have room for improvement but did well overall.

     “It was their first 5k which is always a difficult race sometimes coming out the gate in a big race situation and the race went out super fast and super hot, even despite that the team battled through and had some really great finishes and times,” she said. 

     Even with the absence of their fifth best runner Sophie Rasmussen, the girls still managed to have a strong performance led by Zoe Rector with a time of 18:30 in 7th, Ella McGillis with a time of 18:31 in 9th, Mira Danish with a time of 18:46 in 11th, Olive Paternoster with a time of 20:20 in 48th, and Shelby Knutson with a time of 22:06 in 100th. They accomplished a fourth place finish at Meriwether behind the teams of Sunset, Lakeridge, and Lake Oswego. 

     Olive Paternoster, a current senior, team captain and member of the varsity team expressed hopes for the season. 

     “[I hope] at the state meet we do better than any other Central girls team has in the past, and I also think that I really hope that our JV feels really empowered in their times as well and feels recognized in their times as well,” Paternoster said. 

     The next big race for the girls will occur on Oct. 8 at the Silver Springs Invitational in California.

     “I am taking them to a high level meet in California so they will get really strong California competition which I think will set them up well coming back for the rest of the season” McGillis said. 

     The cross country teams will be hosting a meet on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Fernhill Park. It will be a chance to see the team on their home course.