Gladstone's Konnor Hathaway repeats at 4A boys 800 state champ
The last words Gladstone's Konnor Hathaway heard before he headed onto the track Saturday to run in the final 800-meter race of his high school career came from distance coach Patrick Irwin.
"He just said, 'Race your own race. You've got this,'" Hathaway said. "That's all I needed to hear."
Hathaway successfully defended the 800 state title he won a year ago, winning in a personal best time of 1 minute, 55.16 seconds and edging Marist Catholic's Jack Crowell by one-tenth of a second in Saturday's OSAA Class 4A track and field championships at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
"Oh, man, I'm so proud of all the guys who ran in this race today," Hathaway said. "It's races like this, when you have all of this competition that brings out the best in everyone."
Hathaway then turned around two hours after the 800 and anchored Gladstone's all-senior 4x400-meter relay team with Abran Leal, Alfred "A.J." Dorsey, and Josiah Bitter to a winning time of 3:25.06 in the final race of the day.
In addition to those two wins, Gladstone's short relay finished second, Leal finished second in the 200, Dorsey finished fifth in the 100, Tucker Hall tied for fifth in the high jump, and Osvaldo Rodriguez placed sixth in the 110 high hurdles.
All together, it added up to 49 1/2 points — good enough for third in the team race behind Newport (65) and Mazama (59). It also marked the first time the Gladstone boys had won a trophy at the state meet since 2007 when the Gladiators also finished third.
"Going into this meet, my goal was never to come in and worry about scoring points," Gladiators coach David Lemen said. "It's a matter of performance — going out and laying down the best performance that you can — and I knew if we laid down a good performance, we maybe had a chance to finish in the top five.
"And then everybody performed above and beyond even what I thought they were going to be capable of performing."
Among the Gladstone highlights:
• Dorsey, who went into the meet seeded ninth in the 100, ran a season-best 11.42 seconds in Friday's preliminaries to finish third in his heat and fifth overall, easily advancing to Saturday's final.
In the final, he ran 11.45, finished fifth, and scored four team points in an event Gladstone was projected to score none.
• Leal, seeded seventh in the 200, had the third-fastest time in Friday's prelims when he ran a personal best 23.15. He then shocked the field again on Saturday when he ran 23.02 and finished second behind Mazama's Ben Carringer (22.68)., picking up eight team points for the Gladiators.
• In the high jump, 11 of the 12 jumpers in the field cleared the opening height of 5 feet, 10 inches, including Hall, who made it on his first attempt.
Hall missed on three attempts at 6-0, but so did seven other jumpers. Because Hall and three others had cleared 5-10 on their first try, they ended up tied for fifth, good for 2 1/2 team points each.
• Rodriguez, seeded eighth among the 13 runners in the 110 high hurdles, qualified fifth in Friday's prelims with a 16.22, He then followed that up with a 16.50 in the final to finish sixth, scoring another three team points.
The two best races of the day for Gladstone were the 800 and the 4x400 relay — two races featuring Hathaway.
After Hathaway ran 2:02.84 to finish second in his heat and fourth overall in Friday's 800 preliminaries, Irwin, the Gladstone distance coach, said the strategy for the final was for Hathaway to let someone else set the pace, but to run just off the lead through the first lap of the two-lap race.
"I told him, 'When that competitive fire that you run with decides it wants to kick on, you need to be close enough to use it,'" Irwin said. "After Friday and getting boxed in a bit in the prelim, I told him, 'There's nothing I can say to you today based on your experience of how to run it any better. Just watch your positioning so when you're ready to make a move, you don't have to wait for the field to open up to do it.'"
In the final, Mazama's Jake Healy set the early pace, completing the first lap in 57 seconds with Phoenix's Noah Marshall, Philomath's Grant Hellesto, Hathaway, and Marist's Crowell and Gabe Garboden, in that order, all within striking distance.
"I was a little worried after the first lap, because those guys were one or two seconds ahead of me, so I was going to have to make that up on the second lap," Hathaway said.
He didn't wait long to make his move. Midway through the first run and along the back straight, Hathaway pressed the pace, moving into the lead with 200 meters remaining.
Crowell, the Marist junior, ran just off Hathaway's shoulder the entire way and was counting on his kick to carry him to the win. He may have even had the lead for a step or two in the final 20 meters, but Hathaway surged again just before the finish.
"The last 10 meters, I caught a glimpse of the Marist kid right next to me and that gave me one final burst to try and stay ahead of him," Hathaway said. "It was so close. I was just lucky enough to make it through."
Hathaway's 1:55.16 took more than 2 seconds off his previous best of 1:57.81 set in last year's state final. Crowell clocked in at 1:55.26, breaking his previous PR of 1:59.82.
"It was awesome," Crowell said. "I was almost there, but I didn't quite get him."
Hathaway became the first Gladstone runner to win back-to-back 800 state titles since Toby Cook in 1982 and 1983 as he also matched Cook's winning time in the 1982 final.
After the race, Hathaway again reflected on Irwin's final pre-race advice.
"Patrick is one of the best coaches I've had," he said. "He knows how I think and he lets me know what I need to know before a race. And that's really valuable to me.
"It's hard not to overthink things in races like this. The simple stuff like, 'Race your own race,' really matters, at least, for me."
In the 4x400 relay, Leal ran a strong first leg for Gladstone, but then Dorsey got tripped on the second leg and Sweet Home's Noah Dinsfriend took over the lead. Bitter put Gladstone back in front on the third leg, and then Hathaway held off Sweet Home's Lance Hanson, the 400 state champion, on the final lap.
The Gladiators finished in 3:25.06, breaking the previous Gladstone state meet record of 3:25.47 set in 1983.
"A.J. getting tripped over there in the corner cost him maybe 5 or 10 yards," Lemen said. "Then he picked it up just a little bit so that we were still in it for Josiah's phenomenal third leg, getting the lead back enough for Konnor to go ahead and take us home."
CLASS 4A GIRLS: Hidden Valley won the 4x100 relay and placed second in six other events to run away with the team title, scoring 97 points to runner-up Philomath's 69.5.
Gladstone's Charlie Hill placed second in the pole vault with a personal best jump of 10 feet on her third attempt at that height. Abby Hill finished third in the triple jump with a personal best mark of 35-4 3/4, while Brianna Lewis was second in the 300 hurdles with a 46.61 PR and was fifth in the 100 hurdles with a 15.81 PR.