Brody Bushnell
Philomath’s Brody Bushnell runs the Marist course on Saturday at state. Bushnell placed seventh individually. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

EUGENE — In the season-opening meet back a little more than a month ago in Florence, the Philomath High School’s boys cross-country team got a pretty good look at Siuslaw. From those results and in the following weeks, it became obvious that those two schools would be battling again to stake claim as the best team in the state.

The showdown materialized on Saturday at the Class 4A state meet on a fast course at Marist Catholic High School in Eugene. Philomath sophomore Brody Bushnell placed seventh individually and the Warriors had five all-state performances but Siuslaw had two much fire power up top with three runners in the top 15. The final team standings, the Vikings finished with 70 points to win it with Philomath in second with 77. District rival Sisters was a close third with 81.


“They knew Siuslaw was the team to beat because Siuslaw beat us fairly handily early in the season,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said, “so they stayed focused on them the whole way and Siuslaw was just the better team today, just a little bit better.”

Philomath’s Bushnell showed a strong kick down the final stretch to beat out Siuslaw’s top two runners — Chad Hughes and Samuel Ulrich — for seventh.

“When your guys are throwing up after the race and they’re collapsing, you know they gave it their all,” Fulton said, “and that kick by Brody Bushnell on the track, I look forward to having him in the 800 in track season … he has some good leg speed.”

Bushnell enjoyed the course, a fairly standard route that featured two loops around the Marist campus. To increase comfort levels with the runners, Fulton brought the athletes to the Eugene school on Thursday for practice. Bushnell said they walked and learned the course.

Bushnell, who placed ninth as a freshman at the 2019 state meet, kept the top runners from certain schools in mind as he tackled the route.

“There were a couple of teams that we’ve battled with like Siuslaw and Hidden Valley so I just tried to stick with those guys when I saw them, try to beat them,” he said.

Bushnell ended up running a personal-record time of 16:19.2, edging Hughes at the finish line for the distinction of being included on the all-state first team. Sisters senior Ethan Hosang won the individual title in 15:26.7, more than 30 seconds faster than the runner-up, North Valley senior Patrick Clayburn.

Incidentally, Bushnell will be the top returning runner for the 2021 regular season this fall. All six runners that finished ahead of him at state were seniors.

The Philomath High boys cross-country team placed second at Saturday’s 4A championships in Eugene. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath will be losing a crop of seniors itself with Levi Knutson, Grant Hellesto, Justin Enghauser and Sean Cummings all running their final races. The second-best time on Saturday went to a sophomore, however, with Mateo Candanoza’s performance of 16:36.5, which was good for 12th.

Knutson ended up 20th individually in 17:00.9.

“I knew those Siuslaw guys were fast and if we could get all seven of us up with them, that’s what I wanted; I just wanted all of us to run together like we have in the past,” Knutson said about his preferred strategy heading into the meet. “It was hard to do that this year — Siuslaw is really good.”

Philomath’s Levi Knutson competes in Saturday’s state meet. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Knutson was thrilled to run a course that wasn’t so tough on times.

“This is the best course we’ve run all year — I have no complaints about the course whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve been running slow courses all year so it’s been nice to have a good course where you can get some decent times.”

Hellesto not only enjoyed a fast course, but also an element that’s been missing for much of the season.

“Having spectators around was very nice; it helps exponentially,” Hellesto said. “It’s just different when there’s a crowd. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re just running by yourself.”

Hellesto placed 22nd individually in 17:05.5.

“For me, personally, it could’ve gone better,” Hellesto said. “Like last year, I feel that I maybe pushed a little harder. … I’m super thankful, especially since most sports didn’t get to have a state competition and we did.”

Philomath’s Mateo Candanoza runs in the backstretch on Marist’s track Saturday at state. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Enghauser finally started to find his stride late in the season after physical setbacks had limited his training. He finished 24th in 17:20.2, his fastest by far this season but still nearly a minute slower than what turned in at the 2019 state meet.

“Justin Enghauser had a tremendous race,” Fulton said. “He hasn’t been able to train that much … he’s had to deal with some injuries.”

Sophomore Ben Hernandez finished 31st in 17:43.0 and Cummings was 34th in 17:51.9.

Earning all-state status for the Warriors were Bushnell (first team), Candanoza (second team), Knutson (third team), Hellesto (honorable mention) and Enghauser (honorable mention).

Oregon 4A State Cross Country Championships
Saturday, April 10, at Marist Catholic High School, Eugene

Team Scoring
1, Siuslaw 70; 2, Philomath 77; 3, Sisters 81; 4, Hidden Valley 96; 5, Tillamook 134; 6, Phoenix 147; 7, Marist Catholic 189; 8, Baker 197; 9, La Grande 207; 10, Molalla 252; 11, North Marion 317; 12, Astoria 320.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Ethan Hosang, Sisters, 15:26.7
2. Patrick Clayburn, North Valley, 15:58.8
3. Will Thorsett, Sisters, 15:58.9
4. Marshall Bush, Tillamook, 16:00.8
5. Justin Ash, Baker, 16:06.5
6. Christian Mendoza, La Grande, 16:10.1
7. Brody Bushnell, Philomath, 16:19.2
8. Chad Hughes, Siuslaw, 16:19.4
9. Samuel Ulrich, Siuslaw, 16:23.4
10. Grant Bohannon, Hidden Valley, 16:31.4
Other PHS Results
12. Mateo Candanoza, 16:36.5
20. Levi Knutson, 17:00.9
22. Grant Hellesto, 17:05.5
24. Justin Enghauser, 17:20.2
31. Ben Hernandez, 17:43.0
34. Sean Cummings, 17:51.9

Did you enjoy this content? The news site has no paywall but we do rely on voluntary memberships. If you’re already a member, thank you. To join our community as a member or to make a one-time contribution, please CLICK HERE.