Dallin Shurts' state title in the discus sparks a strong showing for the Braves

By amanda miles

The News-Times

EUGENE — That’s the way to set the tone for the state meet.

With the big-school track and field state championships just getting started on Friday, Dallin Shurts put Banks in the forefront with a title-winning performance in the Class 4A boys discus.

The victory kicked off a slew of outstanding performances by Braves athletes, who lit up Hayward Field in the first few hours of the meet with a slew of top-five finishes, including wins by Shurts and Amy Hilger in the girls high jump.

“That was a great thing. Very rarely do you have an experience like that at state. It was so much fun,” said Banks coach Rob Frank, who compared the sequence with the finale of a fireworks show.

“To have two state champions in the first two hours of the meet, a state runner-up, and a fourth place and a fifth place within about the first three hours of the meet — boy, I don’t know how you beat that.”

Shurts became the first Banks boy to win a state championship since 2011, when Linus Norgren (400 meters), Matt Hidalgo (pole vault) and the 4x400-meter relay team all walked away from Eugene with first-place finishes.

Shurts was nothing if not consistent Friday, posting three throws over 161 feet on his six attempts, starting with a 161-10 in the first round. But he saved his best for last, launching the disc 163-7 for the mark that will be listed next to his name in the championship archives.

“Going in as the favorite, you kind of have a target on your back,” Frank said. “You gotta step up because everybody’s going to be working a little bit harder to catch you. And his first throw was far enough to win the meet.

“We talked about that prior to him going in it — you want to set a standard on your first throw that will let the other competitors know that they’re not going to catch you.”

And nobody did. Estacada’s Justin Rich, the 2013 champion, placed second with a mark of 157-10, and Ridgeview freshman Brent Yeakey — perhaps an up-and-comer for Shurts to keep an eye on next year — was third at 153-2.

That championship performance led Banks to a 13th-place finish in the overall team standings. The Braves scored 22 points. North Bend clipped Hidden Valley of Grants Pass 51-50 for the team title, and Scappoose (48) and Central (46) also earned trophies in a close team race.

Also during that meet-opening Banks barrage, Lucas Hidalgo wrapped up a fifth-place finish in the pole vault for his second state medal in a row. He finished eighth last year.

On Friday, Hidalgo cleared 13-6 to finish fifth, while La Pine sophomore Justin Petz repeated with a 15-0 vault.

Competing in his first state meet as a senior, Devin King also provided a Banks meet highlight with a runner-up result in the 400 meters.

King’s performance was especially impressive given that he was a state meet rookie. As a baseball player last season, he moonlighted as a sprinter at a couple of track meets without training, and then went down to Hayward Field to watch younger sister Maddison compete at state.

Afterward, Frank said, King asked how Frank thought he would do, and Frank said he thought he could run under 50 seconds.

King proved his coach right Saturday. Central senior Grant Lindley won a homestretch duel in 49.23 seconds, but King was right behind in second place in 49.66.

“He ran a great race,” Frank said. “He was within 20 meters of winning that thing, and the kid from Central barely outkicked him.”

Garrett Markham also was a state meet finalist Saturday, finishing ninth in the javelin with a toss of 159-1. The senior could well have thrown farther and made the awards podium, Frank said, but he aggravated a back injury on his first throw.

Other Banks competitors were Jake Sandhagen (10th, shot put, 44-5), Stephan Huang (12th, triple jump, 39-2¼), and the 4x100 relay team of Huang, Aaron Streblow, Nolan Hill and King, which did not finish after a botched exchange.

“It was a great meet for us,” Frank said. “I don’t think anybody walked away from that meet not feeling like they gave it their all.”

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