Gladstone runs away with Tri-Valley track and field team championships
Everyone who competed in track and field at Gladstone High School this spring got a team t-shirt with "Gladstone" printed on the front and this mantra on the back:
"What we are … family
"What we do … grind
"What we gonna be … champions"
The Gladiators backed up those words with an emphasis on the punch line as they ran away with both the boys and girls team titles at the two-day Tri-Valley Conference track and field championships, which ended Saturday afternoon at sun-drenched North Marion High School.
Gladstone sophomore Brianna Lewis was recognized as the most valuable female athlete of the meet after she defended her title in the 300-meter hurdles, placed second in both the 100 and the 100 hurdles, and ran a leg on the 400 relay team that finished third.
The Gladiators also picked up individual district titles with senior Jaden Barnum in the 800, senior Jianna Dilsaver in the discus, junior Charlie Hill in the pole vault, and senior Avery Marshall in the 1,500. The team finished with 187 points to runner-up Estacada's 147 and clinched the girls district title for the second season in a row.
On the boys side, Gladstone senior Konnor Hathaway repeated as district champion in the 800, won the 1,500, anchored the 1,600 relay to another win, and was named the outstanding male track athlete of the meet, while Gladiators' senior Jack Foss won the shot put and the discus and was named the outstanding male field athlete.
Gladstone senior Jack Brown added a win in the 3,000 and the Gladiators placed second in six other events, racking up a winning team total of 217 points to Molalla's 149.
"This is really awesome," Hathaway said. "I know everyone worked their hardest today and we really wanted to do this and we had all the right people to do it.
"I think we worked so hard, we made the title for ourselves. I'm so proud … it's the best feeling ever to come this far as a team."
What jumped out from the district results was how Gladstone's boys scored team points in all 17 events, while the girls scored in nine of 10 running events (they came up empty in the 200) and six of seven field events (they also got blanked in the javelin).
But the most important statistics to come out of Saturday final results were that Gladstone qualified eight boys in 10 events plus both boys relay teams into the OSAA Class 4A track and field state championships beginning Friday at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, while the girls are sending seven athletes in nine events to the state meet.
Gladstone para-athlete Adin Williams also qualified for state after running a season-best 15.20 seconds in the 100 and a personal best 1:13.78 in the 400.
"What happened here is really hard to put into words," first-year Gladstone coach David Lemen said. "It wasn't necessarily our goal to win two district team titles going in. Our goal every time we step on the track is just to go as hard as we can and the scores will be what the scores will be.
"We have no control over what anybody else is doing, but as long as we continue to strive for improvement individually, it's hard to not be satisfied as a coach with the results. We had a lot of personal bests today across the board — throws, jumps, sprints, and distances — so as a first-year head coach at Gladstone, I could not be more proud to have my coaching career start this way."
Marshall, the senior middle-distance specialist, helped set the tone for both Gladstone teams Saturday when she led wire-to-wire in the girls 1,500 and won in a personal best 5:12.58, taking more than eight seconds off her previous PR of 5:21.39.
"I never have an exact game plan because if things go a little bit differently, people tend to not know what to do, Marshall said. "So, I got out there, started running pretty good, felt people behind me, and then I just wanted to keep the lead.
"The pace was very fast, but I honestly wasn't thinking about it. I was just thinking about coming in first place."
Molalla's Paige Gump finished second in a personal best 5:16.99, while four of the next five runners also set PRs, including Gladstone's Brynn Tatom, third in 5:26.20, and Brooklyn Tatom, sixth in 5:39.88.
"I was surprised that we all did so well, especially in the heat," Marshall said. "I was thinking that Paige and I would end up trying to out-sprint each other to the finish, so I was happy that I had enough of a lead that it didn't come down to a final kick. That would have been much harder."
In the girls 300 hurdles, Lewis helped put the exclamation point on the Gladiators' team win as she bolted out of the starting blocks and cruised to a winning time of 47.28 seconds — her first sub-49-second time of the season.
"It was my last race, so I was going to give it my all," Lewis said. "I was definitely tired, but I still had a lot in me the last 100, so I still pushed myself to the finish. It felt really good."
Lewis' also clocked 13.39 seconds in the 100 to edge Madras' Olivia Symons by two-hundredths of a second for second place, and ran a personal best 16.34 in finishing second behind Molalla's Emma Andrews (16.17) in the 100 hurdles.
Among the other highlights for Gladstone's boys and girls at the district meet:
• Brown, who won the boys district cross country title in November, ran away from the field in Friday's 3,000 final to win in 9:52.17, finishing more than 19 seconds ahead of Molalla's Noah Roth.
• Senior Josiah Bitter placed second in the boys 400 with a personal best of 51.83. He also teamed with Abran Leal, Nicholas Wollemann, and Hathaway to win the 1,600 relay in 3:29.96.
• Dilsaver won the girls discus with a toss of 100 feet, 3 inches, becoming the first Gladstone female thrower to win a district title since Chelsea Sound won the discus in 2014.
• Senior Abby Hill set a new PR with a mark of 32-6 1/2 to place second in the triple jump and qualify for the state meet for the first time.
• Senior Osvaldo Rodriguez erupted in jubilation after placing second in the boys 110 hurdles in 16.38, edging Molalla's Michael House by 27-hundredths of a second for the automatic berth into the state meet.
"Ozzie is the lifeblood of our team," Lemen said. "He's been plagued with some shin splits the last month and hadn't really been on the track much, doing a lot of bike workouts. And then he came to the track last week to get one race in and ran the 110s and ran a lifetime PR of 15.77.
"Today, I told him, 'With your training, it was just a matter of going out, running your race as best as you can and not worrying about what anybody else does because you don't have any control over it, and the cards will fall as they may.'"
What would Lemen like to see out of his Gladiators at the state meet?
"Honestly, I haven't looked too much at the state meet," he said. "My coaching philosophy is more about individuals going out and pushing themselves beyond what they think they're capable of and finding that next level.
"When it comes to the state meet, I think being there and enjoying the moment is sometimes more important to me than the performances there, especially with the younger kids that made it."