Brookings-Harbor High School sophomore Chris Burton took the pressure of the Far West League District Championships and used it as a tool to shave more than 30 seconds off his previous personal-best time of 16:40 and finish fifth in Thursday's district Championships.
Burton's time also qualified him for the OSAA 4A State Championships on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Lane Community College in Eugene.
"It feels pretty good," Burton said. "I'm pretty competitive and I'm really happy to get some recognition for my hard work."
According to Head Coach Terry Axel, Burton has been working hard both in practices and on his own including runs early in the morning.
"He's been running on his own every morning," Axel said. "And some of his teammates have been joining him."
The hard work seemed to pay off as the top three runners for the Bruins' boys team set personal-best times.
The Bruins' second place finisher, junior Shaine Graham (17:39), took 24 seconds off his personal-best time.
"It's what we've been working for all season," Graham said. "This morning when we were talking, I told everyone I wanted to get my time to about 1730 and I got pretty close."
Graham finished 15th in the race and was followed closely by the Bruins' third-place finisher, junior Cody Enos (17:54).
Junior Chris Beeman (19:02), freshman Braden Chapman (19:18), sophomore Conrad Dethlefsen (20:08) and junior Brandon Smalley (20:34) rounded out the Bruins varsity squad.
The Bruins were supportive of Burton and happy for his chance to go to the state championships.
"I always thought he was going to make it to state this season because he is so dedicated," Graham explained. "Everything about him - the way he eats, and works out, everything - is all about heading to state.
"People look at that and say, 'If I can mimic that, maybe I can do better.' And that helps the team to get better and get more points."
The team finished in fourth place overall behind Siuslaw in first, Marshfield in second and North Bend in third.
According to Axel, the third-place spot was expected to be a battle and, while he had hoped to take third place, he was consoled by the fact that his team is returning next season without graduating any varsity runners.
"The cool thing," he said to the team after the race, "Is you're all coming back next year. Siuslaw is graduating a bunch of seniors."
The girls team finished in fifth place for team scores and was led by freshman Deborah Lawrence's 17th-place finish with a time of 21:52.
Closely following Lawrence was fellow freshman Kylie Johnson who ran the course in a personal-best 22:18 to finish in 19th.
Bruins' third-place finisher, junior Molly Joyce, finished the race in 29th place with a personal-best time of 22:56.
Junior Addi Fitzgerald (24:07), sophomore Jessie Good (24:56), senior Mallory Darger (26:40), and senior Mikaela Lea (27:29) rounded out the Lady Bruins' varsity squad.
The junior varsity runners also set personal bests in their race with sophomore Hunter Niedens leading the way with a time of 19:25.
Fellow sophomores Jose Ramos (22:23), Seamus Fitzgerald (24:17), Clarice Baumbach (29:30) and Samantha Pletcher (32:28), junior Lesly Fernandez (30:15) and senior Stephen Pettinger (24:22) also set personal records at the district meet.
Junior Brittney Lamar (31:02), and sophomores Evan Vallot (20:08), and Ethan Hodges (21:19) rounded out the JV runners.