The standout seniors will compete alongside scores of elite athletes at the annual competition in Southern California.

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Timmy Johnson missed most of the last track and field season to recover from surgery to repair a congenital heart defect. He is competing at the Arcadia Multis for the second time in his career.At the moment, Hannah Knutson and Timmy Johnson are specializing in not specializing.

The two standout Canby track and field athletes have spent the early portion of the spring season preparing for the heptathlon and decathlon competitions at the Arcadia Multis, which will be held April 10-11 at Arcadia High School in Southern California.

An annual event that features elite performers from across the country, it will serve as a launching pad for the two seniors’ futures as they weigh college decisions during the final track and field season of their prep careers.

“We’ve never emphasized it since it’s not a high school event, but they’re both into it and motivated,” longtime Cougars coach Tom Millbrooke said of Knutson and Johnson, who have both trained through the Willamette Striders Track Club. “It’s good for them in a lot of ways. It’s not something that we push or encourage. But I certainly encourage kids not to be specialists. I think specialization is negative for the physical and mental development of kids.”

Expanding repertoire

Knutson wanted in.

While training with her track club for the high jump, long jump and triple jump, she noticed that other athletes — including former Lake Oswego standout Erika Treske — were honing their skills in a wide variety of events.

“It just looked fun,” Knutson said.

After discussing her interest with club coach David Lemen, Knutson competed in the Junior Olympics and realized she enjoyed the variety of the heptathlon. But she had scant experience in about half of the events.

It’s at least partly why she’s excited to participate in the Arcadia Multis.

“I’m really excited,” Knutson said. “I think I’ve prepared myself pretty well. I’ve been training full-time since state last year, so it’ll be my first hep going in feeling strong. I’m ready for it.”

In an age of specialization, heptathletes are seemingly becoming rarer and rarer. Millbrooke said Knutson is Canby High School’s first serious heptathlete since Jacqueline Postlewait, who continued her track career at Western Oregon (2006-09).

Knutson said she’s already visited Portland State and has been invited to visit Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. She plans toby: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Hannah Knutson competes in the high jump during an April 2 meet at Wilsonville High School. The Canby senior, a budding heptathlete, gave up her dancing career to focus on track and field. compete in heptathlons at the collegiate level.

“There are not a lot of people who do it,” she said. “Even at (junior) regionals, there were like 10 girls. It’s a way different atmosphere because you only have a few competitors and you all have strong events. Everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses.”

Knutson’s pursuit of track and field has forced her to sacrifice her love of dancing, but she said the lower-body strength and flexibility that she developed as a dancer over the last decade have helped her as a heptathlete.

“I decided that my passion was really in track,” she said. “It was hard, but it was worth it.”

Knutson’s accomplishments on the track this season have seemingly softened the sting.

In Canby’s meet against David Douglas on March 19, she clocked a career-best 28.18 seconds in the 200-meter dash, logged a personal-record mark of 100 feet 11 inches in the javelin and recorded her best-ever mark in the long jump (16-4).

At the Cougars’ meet April 2 in Wilsonville, she won the 100-meter hurdles race with a career-best time (16.73 seconds) and tied for first place in the high jump with a mark of 4-10.

After the Arcadia Multis, Knutson will hone in on her four strongest events as she vies for state bids. She qualified for the OSAA championships in the triple jump in each of the last two seasons.

“My potential for improvement is still so high right now,” she said. “I’m just really excited.”

New beginning

Johnson remembers last year’s Arcadia Multis well.

Just days earlier, he had met with doctors about a congenital heart condition that was discovered after he sustained a concussion while practicing for the pole vault.

Johnson ended up qualifying for the junior nationals in the decathlon, but he found out shortly thereafter that surgery would be required to fix the defect in his heart.

The Canby senior has spent much of the last year rehabilitating for track and field. He was unable to qualify for the high school state championships last year, and he didn’t get to participate in his final season of prep football.

He said April 2 at Wilsonville High School that he’s looking forward to another journey to Southern California, where he expects competition in the decathlon to be particularly stiff.

Johnson left for the Arcadia Multis after a strong start to his track season with the Cougars.

At the season opener against David Douglas, Johnson won the 110-meter high hurdles race in 15.47 seconds, recorded a 21-3 to win the long jump and won the discus throw with a career-best 132-2. He was also a member of Canby’s victorious 400-meter relay squad.

In Wilsonville, Johnson won the 110 hurdles (15.44 seconds) and the pole vault (13-0) while joining the short relay squad for another first-place finish.

Johnson and Knutson will both miss the Cougars’ April 9 meet at West Linn.

“We’ll miss them,” Millbrooke said. “That’ll affect our team scores, but in the long run it’s not going to hurt us. They both just have to come back healthy.”

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