Five Oregon City tracksters punch tickets to 6A boys' state meet
Oregon City's Jake Follett has jumped farther than 23 feet in the long jump before and is confident that he can do it again.
Maybe even 24 feet -- if and when the conditions are right
Follett was hoping Tuesday would be that day during the finals of the boys' long jump at the Mt. Hood Conference track and field championships at Gresham High School, but things didn't come together as well as he had hoped.
The Pioneers' junior still hit a jump of 22 feet, 7 inches on his final attempt of the competition to edge Gresham's Malek Pate by one inch and claim his second district long jump title in three seasons.
"I was hoping for a bigger jump," Follett said. "My landing wasn't really good and I have some things to change. I'm hoping I can jump high 23s, maybe something in the 24s.
"Yeah, I think I can jump 24."
Follett will get another opportunity on Friday at the OSAA Class 6A track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene.
If Follett had to put his finger on what needs fixing based on Tuesday's district performance, some of it has to do with technique, but mostly he just needs to learn to stay calm on the runway.
"Today, my first jump I felt really far, but I missed on the landing and put my feet down too early," he said. "All the other jumps, I just got too tight. I just wanted to jump far and that's when I get tight. I just need to relax more."
The conditions were decent Tuesday, a little on the cool side, but most of the day's rain had passed through by the time the long jump competition started and there was a bit tailwind.
Follett and Pate both jumped 22-6 to open the competition, and then Pate went 22-3 1/ 2 on his second attempt and Follett went 20-10 1/ 2 before both of them passed their final jumps of the preliminaries.
In the finals, Follett had marks of 22-2, 22-6 1/ 2, and 22-7 – a consistent series and good enough to give him the win, but not what he wanted.
"I just want to jump far," he said. "I'm getting there."
Follett set the Oregon City school record in the long jump as a freshman when he went 23-1 in his high school debut. He then came back two meets later with a jump of 23-3 3/ 4, which stills stands as his personal best.
He won the district title as a freshman and finished third at state, but then had an injury that required surgery, which sidelined him for seven months.
Follett competed on a part-time basis as a sophomore, making his mark toward the end of the season when he finished as the runner-up at the district meet and placed fifth at the state meet with a season-best mark of 22-3 1/ 4.
This time around, Follett will be among the favorites along with North Medford senior Kaison Faust, Cleveland's Sean Neuman, and Pate of Gresham.
"I feel fast on the Hayward runway every time I go there and I feel like I can PR every time I go there," Follett said. "I think if I jump 23-something, I probably could win. And I think I can do that.
Also making the trip to Eugene for the defending state champion Pioneers are Lane Marshall in the shot put and discus, Israel Miles in the 110-meter high hurdles, Luke Peyton in the javelin, and Tyler Quinsey in the high jump.
Marshall won his second consecutive discus district title with a mark of 163-5 in Tuesday's finals, and then came back and won his third consecutive shot put title with a toss of 51-11 in Wednesday's final.
"I wanted 53 feet or better, but I was pretty tired today," Marshall said. "It's been a long season and I'm starting to feel it.
"I should probably rest, but I'm not going to win state sitting around and resting. I've got to go train."
Miles defended his district title in the high hurdles, clocking a time of 15 seconds-flat while negotiating a tricky tailwind.
"You'd think a tailwind would help, but I already have a long stride as it is between the hurdles, so when there's a tailwind, it pushed me into the hurdles," Miles said. "I ended up hitting the fifth hurdle and I just sort of toned it down, thinking, 'Just make it to state. Don't risk anything.'
"I didn't want to hit another hurdle or get disqualified or fall. Just finish the race."
In the javelin, Peyton took the early lead when he threw a personal best 194-4 on his first, but finished second after Central Catholic's Joseph Nizich closed the competition with throws of 194-6 and 195-6.
"My left ankle was killing me," Peyton said. "During warmups, I rolled it. My first throw, I was feeling fine and I was ready to go. I popped one out there and then my ankle started bothering me a little bit.
"I thought the 194-4 was going to stand up. I honestly didn't think Joe was going to beat that, but he did. He deserves it. I think I could have hit 200 if the ankle had been fine. But that's my goal now is 200."
In the high jump, three competitors cleared 5-10, but Quinsey was the only one to clear 6-0, making it on his final attempt. He then put the bar at 6-3 to try and set a new personal best, but missed on three attempts.
Central Catholic placed first in seven running events and two field events and scored 179 points to clinch the boys' team title, while Oregon City was second with 111.5 points and Centennial third with 100.5
"Pretty much where we forecasted out to finish," Pioneers coach Adam Thygeson said. "The boys were disappointed with the 4x100 relay, but other than that, everybody pretty much finished where we expected them to and we advanced the people to state who we expected to advance."