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The Skyhawks beat Jesuit in the final event at state to win their first track championship
by: Miles Vance, TOP HAWKS - Southridge's (from left) Taylor Hunt, Kelsey Hones, Chloe Steinbeck, Trinna Miranda, Lainey Nash and (to pictured) Tiara Prince helped their team win its first-ever state track title on Saturday.

EUGENE - The 2009 Southridge girls track team has now traveled where no previous Skyhawk squad had gone before.


All the way to the top.

The Skyhawks won their school's first-ever Class 6A state track and field championship on Saturday at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus, finishing with a state's-best total of 66 points to hold off Metro League rival Jesuit (63.5 points) and reverse the finish of last year's state meet.

The Skyhawks did it with just six athletes - Southridge's stellar six - and did it in the most dramatic fashion, winning the day's final event - the 4 x 400 meter relay - over Jesuit in a winner-take-all race to the state championship.

'I'm kind of in shock still. It's really exciting,' said Southridge senior Taylor Hunt, who ran the third leg in the Skyhawks' winning 4 x 400 relay. 'I'm really excited, proud of us.'

'It's an amazing feeling,' added senior Trinna Miranda, a three-time place winner at state. 'It's exciting, especially because we only had six competitors on the girls side. To come out and win was just amazing.'

Southridge, which got a state championship from Chloe Steinbeck in the 800 and runner-up finishes by Kelsey Hones in both sprints, saved their best for last too - and needed it. Leading by just half a point going into the 4 x 400, the Skyhawks left nothing to chance.

Sophomore Lainey Nash got things started in the 4 x 400, handed off to Hones for the second leg and Hunt for the third, then turned to Steinbeck - the 2007 Class 6A state 400 champ - to bring it on home. And Steinbeck, who took the baton with an already solid lead, did just that, racing home to win the 4 x 400 - and the 6A state title - with a time of 3 minutes, 53.01 seconds while Jesuit was second at 3:56.01.

'All of our top seniors are graduating so it's really exciting to get it on their last chance,' said Nash.

'This is my first time beating Jesuit in track so it's nice,' Miranda added. 'They always get Metro champs but we got state champs this year.'

The Skyhawks got a third-place finish from Miranda in Friday's long jump (at 18 feet, .75 inches), then really things got going at the start of Saturday's competition. While Lincoln won the day's first running event - the 4 x 100 relay - at 48.01, Southridge was a solid second at 48.96 behind Miranda, Steinbeck, Nash and Hones.

Hones took her turn next, racing to second-place in the 100 with a season's best finishing time of 12.13 - trailing only Benson's Kayla Smith and her winning time of 11.84. Hones did it again in the 200, following up her personal record in the prelims (24.79) with a 24.85 in the final to take second again behind Smith's 24.01.

'It's my last 100 and I didn't break 12 (seconds), but it's a season-best so … I ran a good race,' said Hones, who will play college soccer at Oregon next year. 'There's nothing really I'd take back. I wish it was faster, but it's pretty good because I know (Smith is an) amazing runner.'

Next up, it was sophomore Tiara Prince who stepped to the fore, racing to a third-place finish in the 100 high hurdles with a personal-best time of 15.18, She trailed just South Eugene's Shay Applegate (14.53) and runner-up Katie Sime of South Salem (14.94).

Steinbeck took her turn next and did so magnificently, besting the 800 field with a winning time of 2:16.32, good enough to beat runner-up Lauren Lloyd of Hood River Valley (2:16.45) in a race where Hunt took seventh at 2:19.33.

'I'm happy I got first but I'm kind of disappointed with my time,' Steinbeck said. 'None of us ran fast today. We were all tired from switching from a three-day meet to a two-day meet. It was kind of a disappointment, but it happens. Races don't always go the way you plan. You just have to deal with that.'

Miranda tacked on a seventh-place finish in the triple jump next, posting a season's best 36-0, and Nash followed in the 300 intermediate hurdles with a third-place finish at 44.37 (where she trailed Tiarra Pittman of Lincoln and her winning time of 43.51 and runner-up Kelsey Moe of South Salem and her 44.06).

And that set the table for the Skyhawks' dramatic effort in the 4 x 400 - a race that gave Southridge the chance to win its first state title and, for Nash and Hunt, a chance at redemption.

'I was really disappointed after the 300, but I just used all that disappointment to get myself back up and pumped for the 4 x 400 and win it,' Nash said.

'I was kind of disappointed in my 800 too, so I did the same thing and funneled that into pouring it onto the track,' Hunt said. 'That's what I was focusing on as I was waiting for it, going all out.'

And that all-out effort, evident throughout the state meet, paid the biggest dividend possible.

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