Eagles look to break through at district track
This year's Mount Hood Conference district track and field championships promises to be an entertaining three-ring circus with important clashes taking place in all corners of Gresham High's Stapleton Field.
On the girls side, Clackamas, Central Catholic and Centennial come into the meet tied atop the MHC's dual-meet standings — each with one loss. Clackamas has the highest margin of victory among those teams, while Centennial has three of the league's top-10 individual scorers.
The Eagles have potential points across a variety of events with Madison McHone going unbeaten across both hurdle races during the regular season. She is also a contender in the high jump and a key cog in the Eagles' 1,600-meter relay that has lost only once in league action.
Sophomore Angel Aluesi is undefeated in the shot put and discus this season, while also capable of popping a big throw in the javelin.
"She's a competitor. She flips that switch and rips off some good throws," Centennial girls coach Luke Franzke said. "She's made it a trend of doing well when it matters most."
A key event appears to be the pole vault where Centennial's Schultz twins, Sierra and Savannah, have each cleared a conference-best 11 feet this year. Clackamas senior Alyssa Kawata (along with Barlow rookie Reanna Maroon) are one bar down at 10-6.
While the Eagles will certainly be paying attention to the team score, Franzke's biggest focus is on qualifying as many athletes as possible for the state meet in two weeks.
"We want to be strategic and fight for positions to state," Franzke said. "Our league is so talented, we can cannibalize each other. We want to be in position to get some of those wildcard spots."
The top two district finishers automatically advance to state. An additional two wildcard spots per event are up for grabs among the six Class 6A leagues.
Centennial is coming off its first-ever girls win at its premier Invitational three weeks ago, and has claimed a share of the MHC's dual-meet title.
"It's been a special year, and we hope to see that continue," Franzke said.
• On the boys side, the top three teams from last season — Oregon City, Central Catholic and Centennial — met in a three-way meet to start the season. The host Pioneers swept that showdown and enters district as the team to beat.
Centennial is looking to prove that a lot can change over the course of five weeks. The Eagles boast the league's top two scorers over the regular season in vaulter David Sanchez Perez and sprinter Jimmie Barton.
"We're a pretty balanced team and have been on a roll ever since that first meet," Centennial boys coach Greg Letts said. "We're going to have to be solid with our front-line kids, and we'll see what happens."
Sanchez Perez has claimed 15 wins over the course of the dual season, going unbeaten in the pole vault with a top mark of 14 feet, 6 inches set at the Centennial Invitational.
Barton faces key showdowns in the two sprints where he will take on Central's Korbin Williams and Vincenzo Logan to divvy up crucial team points.
"The big thing for Jimmie is that he's been healthy for the entire season, and he's been able to work on the little things to get faster," Letts said.
Centennial's Jadon Pickles (jumps) and Jason Deleon (middle distances) also finished among the top-10 in scoring during the dual-meet season.
Oregon City is led by junior Lane Marshall in the throws and senior Israel Miles in the hurdles.
• Field events begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday, while the racing prelims will start at 5 p.m. The 3,000-meter finals will be contested on Saturday night with the girls at 8 p.m., followed by the boys.
For Wednesday's final session, field events once again get under way at 3 p.m. with the 400-meter relay kicking off action on the track at 5 p.m. The final event, the 1,600-meter relays, are set to begin at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students.