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Mazama’s Zach Wallace saw his moment to take the lead before the last corner and took it.

During the boys varsity Skyline Conference cross country championship race, Wallace held third-place spot for 90 percent of the race before he found an extra ounce of energy.

Klamath Union’s Ben Blake held a lead for a majority of the race before North Valley’s Patrick Clayburn stepped ahead of him during the final downhill.

On the final corner, Wallace’s push helped him win the race just ahead of Blake, and won at 17 minutes, 16.54 seconds on a comfortable Wednesday afternoon when Blake and his KU teammates dominated the boys race.

“Three steps, three steps was what I won by,” Wallace said. “I do not know what happened, but I had a spark of energy and just took it. I caught some heat on the corner because it is not a great incline or decline but you can feel it.

“Coming up, it hurts because you are used to going downhill and once you go up, it is like oh, man.”

The 3.1-mile course at Steen Sports Park is described as one of the most difficult races, if not the most difficult of the season for conference runners, compared to the flatter ground at the Class 4A state competition Saturday, Nov. 3, at Lane Community College.

“The loose gravel, it makes it to where you feel heavy. You step into it and you have all this weight and it is just so hard,” Wallace said. “I love the consistency I have had and it is great for me. From now on, I will have no soda and eat healthy. I try to picture the state race before and it does not go how I plan it but I do my best.”

Wallace is coming off a victory he earned at the Yreka Elks invitational, which he won at 17:34.6.

Blake and the KU Pelicans had just as much to smile about after they won the team title with 29 points.

Blake ended the run at 17:18.00, Clayburn was in third at 17:27.86 and Hidden Valley’s Asa Marwick was at 17:37.17.

Blake’s teammates were not too far behind as Brady Monteith was in fifth place, Isaac Bailey sixth, Jacob McGonigle seventh and Declan Ritter ninth. Olaf Coffey with 13{sup}th{/sup}, and Brandon VanMeter 16{sup}th{/sup} as KU won its first ever Skyline Conference championship after missing by a point a year ago.

Henley’s Jake Smith also had a top 10 finish and was in eighth with a time of 18:39.34.

Blake is currently the highest ranked Skyline Conference competitor and finished 16th place in last year’s state competition.

“It was fun going back and forth. Having a cold the past week and a half, my breathing was a little bit off. We are all so close. We work together, hang out together and win together,” Blake said. “This is something we have all worked for since we could remember.

“We are right at the top of the state and wanting to see that in 10 days.”