by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic's Tysen Prunty placed second in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles at the Lewis and Clark District meet on Saturday.

When Cooper Roach and Wilder Boyden get on the 3A State Track and Field Championship-bound bus to Eugene on Thursday, the Valley Catholic runners won’t be alone.

Unlike last year, when Roach and Boyden took home 10th place between the two of them, the Valiants will be banded with seven teammates at their side, the result of a Lewis & Clark District Championship clinched on Saturday at Catlin Gabel.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Roach. “It’s always a lot more fun with more guys. I think we’ll keep each other a lot more relaxed. The goal is to have fun, but we want to bring home a state trophy. That’s been the goal since day one, maybe get in the top four, but I think we can get higher than that. There’s nothing stopping us from doing it if we all perform well.”

Seven first places and five runner-ups, paced by Roach’s gold in the 800 and Boyden’s first in the 1,500 gave the Valiant boys 193 total team points.

Valiant track and field newcomer Jarrett Gray set a new personal record in the high jump by clearing 6-05, which not only was the best district mark, but shot the senior to the highest mark in 3A.

“I felt really loose today,” said Gray. “My steps were on-point, so it was just all working. It’s been a lot of fun out here with these guys and the fact that we’re all able to go to state together, I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully, we can do well and bring home a trophy.”

Roach raced for the first time in six weeks after being sidelined with a torn glute, and won the 800 and took second behind Boyden in the 1,500.

Not knowing what to expect, the reigning state champ in both events used Boyden to help pace out both competitions and return to the top of the Lewis and Clark echelon.

“It felt awesome to run again,” said Roach. “It’s hard getting back into the race mentality because you forget what it’s like. I was really nervous, which is pretty unusual. But, once we started, I felt really good.”

Boyden and Roach were neck-and-neck in the 800 with half a lap to go, then Roach unleashed his patented kick to sprint the rest of the way.

“The goal was to have two people qualify (for state), but I didn’t want to let (Boyden) beat me,” said Roach with a laugh.

“It’s a great feeling running with someone on your team,” added Boyden. “It’s really nice having someone to run with in-stride to help you finish.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic's Cooper Roach and Wilder Boyden took first and second in the 800-meter dash to help the Valiants win the Lewis and Clark District Title.

The competition in the 1,500 was spread out between Roach, Boyden and Ben Davidson. And, with only two tickets available for state, Boyden said it was a “completely different” racing plan with another Valiant in the combative mix.

In this race, the shoe was on the other foot as Boyden passed up Roach and rang up a 4:12 finish.

“Luckily, everything worked out and I had enough speed in the end,” said Boyden.

Davidson was able to stay with Boyden and Roach for three-quarters of the 1,500 which was his ultimate goal. The junior won the 3,000 (9:16) by nearly 31 seconds and should be in the mix for a top-three spot at state.

Fellow junior Nathaniel Trobough took first in the 400 (53.70) and Tysen Prunty clinched two state berths in the 110-meter hurdles (16.53) and 300-meter hurdles (16.53).

Trobough, Boyden, Seancarlos Gonzalez and Alex Kiss placed second in the 4x400 relay (3:38).

Junior thrower Kazuma Lane took home individual district titles in both the javelin (158-04) and discus (122-08) at Catlin Gabel, setting big personal records in each event. Lane said the Valiant throwing coaches drill him on getting the javelin up and tossing his head up on the release, which helped the junior righty fend off the Lewis & Clark field.

“I led the league in javelin, so I felt like I had the target on my back,” said Lane. “I was pretty nervous, but after the first throw I started to relax and got that big 158’. I’d like to break 160’ at state. I missed Hayward by like two inches, but now I get to go so I’m pretty excited.”

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