Newberg claims two top-10 finishes at state
EUGENE — The Newberg track and field teams experienced the downside of high expectations Friday and Saturday at the Class 6A state championship at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.
The boys' sixth place finish and the girls' 10th place showing are nothing to scoff at, but coming off of the program's first-ever district title sweep, the Tigers were shooting much higher.
"If you had told me before the year or last year that we'd be top 10 again, I'd probably say that's a good result," Ramey said. "But you start building up expectations and that's probably unfair to the kids."
The biggest exception was senior Maddie Hergert, who finally captured a state title in the 400 after coming up shy the past two seasons.
"That was probably the highlight of my coaching career," Ramey said. "It's the coming to fruition of everything we have been working for, so it's a relief and it's a happy time and great satisfaction for her. She's just an unbelievable girl. She works incredibly hard and epitomizes everything I want out of my program."
The Concordia-Irvine recruit got off to a good start and paced herself well through the curves before pulling away in the final 60 to 80 meters to cross the finish line in 56.42.
"The last few years I was trying to run other people's races," Hergert said. "I was worried about times. I was worried about places. Running with my relay team over the summer taught me that you just have to run your race and trust in yourself."
Despite not feeling quite recovered from the 400, Hergert also looked smooth and relaxed in the finals of the 200, as she stayed in the main pack through the curve and into straight away before using a strong kick to take fourth at 25.12.
Hergert also ran the anchor of Newberg's seventh-place 4 x 100 relay, joining with fellow senior Madeline Whalen and juniors Maddie DeVerna and Ashley Korb-Doty to post a time of 49.40.
Even Hergert, though, wasn't immune to the disappointment that seemed to afflict the Tigers, who sat in eighth place with 21 points with one event remaining and were expecting to move up a spot or two with a strong performance in the meet-ending 4 x 400 relay.
The foursome of Grace Umfleet, Whalen, Casey Novak and Hergert were seeded third coming into the finals, but their final two handoffs were disrupted by overcrowded and chaotic exchange zones. By the time Hergert got clear of the mess on the anchor leg, the gap was too big for even the 400-meter state champ to make up and Newberg finished eighth in their heat and 12th overall with a time of 4:06.32.
"Our handoffs weren't smooth and it cost us getting boxed in behind people," Ramey said. "Our girls need to be out chasing somebody, not in the back of the pack, and it showed. That's something we have to do better and I have to do a better job of getting our kids prepared."
Newberg's 21 points were still good enough for 10th place, just behind Southridge (22) in ninth, South Eugene (23) in eighth and Grant (25) in seventh. Jesuit cruised to the team title with 71 points, with West Salem (57), Grants Pass (51) and Barlow (47) rounding out the top four.
Also scoring for Newberg was Natalie Peterson, who made a much-anticipated return to Hayward field to place fifth (133-1) in the javelin. Peterson also placed fifth a year ago, but was severely injured in a car crash later that same night and has been working to get back to the state meet ever since.
"It's just really emotional," said Peterson, who will throw for the University of Montana next season. "It's just a lot to process. I'm happy that I'm here and I'm throwing."
Junior Noelle Sawyer joined Peterson in the javelin competition, placing 11th with a throw of 116-2. Portland State-bound senior Savanna Milroy, who has been hampered by injuries for most of the season, also competed in the high jump but did not clear the opening height of 5-0.
Just weeks after picking up the triple jump for the first time and setting the school record, Korb-Doty made the finals in that event, but settled for ninth when her best mark of 35-9.5 was narrowly surpassed by West Albany's Tiffany Forrest, who cleared 39-10 on her final jump.
"She's a young talent that we're going to work with over the summer and she's got lot of different things she can do," Ramey said. "It's disappointing in a way for her, but it's a good experience. She could come back her next year and win the whole thing."
Newberg was gunning for a trophy in the boys meet, but things did not go as smoothly as they did a week prior at districts and with the margin of error significantly smaller, that was enough to knock the Tigers out of the running for a top-four finish.
"I think nerves got the best of the boys today," Ramey said. "You could see it in their body language and their racing.
Junior Cole Alteneder scored 11 of the team's 30 points by finishing third in the 110 hurdles (14.61) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.22).
Alteneder had set a new PR (14:47) in the prelims of the 110 and was seeded second in the 300, but hit hurdles early in both races and felt like he squandered opportunities to win state titles.
"It's all about momentum and speed and that really screwed over the rest of my race," Alteneder said. "I'm really angry I didn't win it. But 14.61 is pretty good time for having a crappy race."
Alteneder also ran the anchor on Newberg's 4 x 400 relay, which ended the day on a positive note by finishing fifth in 4:25.
That came in contrast to the 4 x 100 relay early in the day, as the Tigers were seeded ninth but placed 14th in 43.50.
"They really wanted to show that they were better than what they did earlier in the day and prove they could run," Ramey said. "The 4 x 400 was kind of the epitome of what our season was. I know we didn't win it, but they battle that they had to get the place they had shows what we've done all season."
Newberg had two medalists in the triple jump Saturday thanks to fifth and seventh-place finishes by Taylor Howard (45-1.5) and Davis Smith (44-3.75). Howard also placed fourth in the long jump Friday (22-5) and Davis matched his personal record by clearing 14-6 to place sixth in the pole vault.
Kyle Charbonneau set a new PR of 1:56.83 in the prelims of the 800 Friday, then placed eighth in the finals Saturday (2:00.03).
Also competing at Hayward were Brock Peterson, who was 13th in the javelin (161-9), and Peter Gentile, who 12th (1:5.97) in the 800.
Oregon City won the title with 56 points, besting runner-up Jesuit by five points and third-place Beaverton by 15. Central Catholic (37) and Sheldon (34) rounded out the top five.