Track and field: Bulldogs return to track after break, place second at Dallas
Last year's Woodburn track and field team failed to qualify any athletes to the 5A State Championships for the first time since the 2007 season. With the way this season has started, the Bulldogs are looking to make that a one-year blip on the radar.
Woodburn returned to action last week with a three-team conference showdown at Dallas High School on April 4 against the hosting Dragons and the Corvallis Spartans. It was the first action for the Bulldogs since the team kicked off the season with a home duel against the Lebanon Warriors on March 21.
Despite the lengthy layoff between meets, Woodburn appeared to show no signs of rust after the boys finished second with 202.66 points, sandwiched behind the Dragons' 297.33 and Corvallis' 139. The girls scored 61.5 to finish third behind Corvallis (250) and Dallas (215.5).
While the Woodburn boys did the majority of their scoring in the sprints and distance events, the Bulldogs picked up their only victories of the day in the field, led by senior Chris Serrano and junior Tyson Doman.
Making his official debut in the event, Serrano led the field in the triple jump by posting a distance of 37-06.75, more than a foot beyond the distance of second-place finisher Evan Courtney of Dallas.
Serrano made a few appearances for the Bulldogs as a sophomore in 2016, but his junior season was his breakout year for the track team, competing primarily in the 100-meter dash, the 200 and the long jump, while making a few appearances in the relay events.
Serrano has continued in those events this year, with a trio of third-place finishes at Dallas. The Woodburn senior had season-best times of 12.17 in the 100 and 25.10 in the 200, while marking at 17-08 in the long jump.
In the high jump pit, the Bulldogs swept the competition at Dallas, finishing with the top three spots led by a height of 5-06 by Doman. The finish tied Doman's personal-best, which he set at home against Lebanon in March. He was followed in the standings by freshman Jeovanny Marroquin and junior Colton Rictor, who were joined by Dallas' Carson Overstreet, all of whom cleared 5-02.
Elsewhere in the field, the Woodburn boys scored a pair of third-place finishes in the throwing events. Senior Kevin Aparicio set a new personal-best mark by tossing a distance of 38-10 in the shot put, narrowly beating out teammate Erik Aparicio's fourth-place distance of 38-07. In the discus, the Bulldogs were led by sophomore Luis Robles, who cleared the 100-foot barrier for the second time this season with a throw of 106-09.5 to finish third overall in the event.
But it was the team's runners who had the biggest impact at Dallas. Although the Bulldogs failed to win any individual running events, the team often scored second- and third-place finishes to help bump the team's final score.
Serrano added his finishes in the sprints, and was barely bested in the 200 by junior teammate Raul Prudencio, who set a new best time of 25.07 to finish second. Prudencio added another second-place finish in the 4x400 relay after being joined by Riley Menezes, Emiliano Perez and Dyontae Navarrete for a second-place finish in 3:43.21. That team was followed by the Bulldogs' distance team of Giovanni Bravo, Hector Reyes, Koen Howell and Crisanto Ayala, who finished third in 3:56.83.
Woodburn brings a deep distance team to the table this year, but the Mid-Willamette Conference boasts a difficult field of runners to crack. Bravo leads the Bulldogs and will feature as the team's premier distance runner this year. The junior set a new personal record in the 1,500 at Dallas with a third-place finish in 4:13.96 after coming off a performance of 9:05.91 in the 3,000 at the beginning of the season.
But he'll likely need to shave at least five more seconds from his 1,500 time and drop his 3,000 under the nine-minute mark to secure a coveted trip to the state championships this year.
Menezes has excelled in the 800 race this year, winning the event against Lebanon in March and placing second at Dallas with a personal-best time of 2:08.36.
Howell adds another strong runner to the team, and his best chance of qualifying for state likely lies in the 800 as well, where he has posted times of 2:13.87 and 2:14.77 in his first two meets of the year.
In the 400 event, sophomore Navarrete and junior Nathan Corpuz placed second and third, respectively.
The Woodburn girls were not without their highlights as well. Freshman Jackeline Martinez made her individual varsity debut at the event, placing second in the 200 with a personal-best time of 30.76, and added a PR in the 100 with a time of 14.81. She was joined in the 4x100 relay by teammates Ylianna Veliz, Silvia Aguilera and Ana Jimenez to take third in 58.52.
Fellow freshman Evnika Abildayev placed fourth in the high jump with a team-best mark of 4-04.
Woodburn's season continues this week when it heads to Silverton High School on April 11 for another three-way league competition against the hosting Foxes and the South Albany Rebels.
The Bulldogs will also take part in the Viking Relays at North Salem High School on Friday and travel to St. Helens on Saturday for the Lower Columbia Invitational.