Hilhi seniors Tanya Jones and Spencer Dean are hoping to qualify for the 6A state meet

Tanya Jones and Spencer Dean are best friends.

“She inspires me to do things,” Dean says about Jones. “Her hard work is really, like — every day at practice it’s ... crazy.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hilhi's Cricket Browning (51.51 seconds) and Glencoe's Ryan England (51.64) race to a 1-2 finish in the boys 400 meters last Wednesday.

The two Hillsboro seniors are neighbors and track and field teammates who are trying to put exclamation points on their high school careers by qualifying for the state meet for the first time at this week’s Pacific Conference district meet, which started Thursday and concludes today at Tualatin High School.

Both Jones and Dean might appear to be dark horses to advance to the Class 6A state meet, slated for next Friday and Saturday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene. After all, Dean is entering the district meet’s Thursday preliminaries as the fifth seed in the 100 meters and tied for the sixth seed in the 200, while Jones was ranked fourth in the 800. They also are in the Spartans’ relay pools, Dean in both relays and Jones in the long relay.

The two friends may be hitting their peaks at just the right time. Dean, fourth in the 200 meters and sixth in the long jump at the 2012 district meet, has endured a challenging senior season. He missed one early-season dual meet because of illness. And he has been hampered for a number of weeks primarily by an irritable left calf and Achilles tendon that are only now starting to clear up, and have limited the number of events per meet he has contested. Meanwhile, a hamstring injury has slowed Jones for part of this spring.

But if they feel good today — and if the weather is somewhat cooperative — there is no telling what the they might do.

Neither Dean nor Jones showed much evidence of their maladies at last Wednesday’s four-way Pacific Conference meet at Glencoe that included McMinnville and Tualatin. Dean finished a somewhat surprising — given his limitations this season — second place in the 100, behind McMinnville’s Kane Kennedy, while Jones cruised to a win in the 800 in 2:23.83.

Dean’s time of 11.20 seconds was a personal best by almost a quarter-second, and his third-place 200 time of 23.15, which he ran way out in front in the slow heat, was just .26 off his best.

“I had a very good meet that day,” Dean said. “I was very happy with how I did, surprised myself a little bit, because really I haven’t been (at) full potential since the start of the season.”

Kennedy, one of the preeminent sprinters in the conference, has elected to run the 200 and 400 at the district meet. And, as Dean pointed out, in that 100 last Wednesday, he beat three of the sprinters ranked ahead of him coming into the district meet.

That means track fans could be in for an exciting and unpredictable race in this afternoon’s boys 100 final, scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Should he be in that final (Thursday’s preliminaries results were not available before press deadline), Dean will be taking dead aim at 11.07, which happens to be this year’s automatic qualifying standard in Class 6A. It also happens to be the PR of his older brother Grant, who was a standout sprinter and jumper for the Spartans about a decade ago.

“I’m planning on beating that,” Dean said.

As for Jones, she finished third in the 800 a year ago, one spot shy of a state meet berth, so she knows what it’s like to be in the running at the district meet. Last Wednesday, her 800 time was a season best by almost three seconds and a personal record by 1.64 seconds.

“I’m super excited. That’s how I feel,” Jones said about the district meet. “I’m just excited to just lay it all out, even if I don’t qualify. My goal is to qualify for state, but I just want to run the best that I possibly can.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro's
Tanya Jones leads Glencoe's Ruth Teklu to the tape in the 800 meters at last week's four-way Pacific Conference track and field meet. Jones, a senior, shaved nearly two seconds off her previous best in the 800 to win in 2:23.83, the third-best time in the league this season. Teklu finished second in 2:27.65.

She is eager to see how it ends — for both of them.

“I really hope that he can just keep going farther with PRing and just getting better this season, because we both kind of started off wishy-washy, kind of iffy, started off rough,” Jones said. “And so the fact we’ve both come this far in so short amount of time, I hope we both can keep going together and make it to state together.”

Besides Jones, Hilhi event-winners last Wednesday were Anna Dean (girls 100 meters, 100 hurdles), Cricket Browning (boys 400,) Tylar Deveraux-Stevens (boys javelin) and Michael Gonzalez (long jump). Leah McClain picked up wins for Glencoe in the girls 300 hurdles and in the 4x100 relay, along with Cassandra Acosta, Rosie Hunker and Caprina Crocker.

At the district meet, the boys and girls 3,000-meter races and half of the field events were staged on Thursday. The meet resumes today at 4 p.m., starting with most of the remaining field events: the girls pole vault, triple jump, discus and shot put, and the boys triple jump, javelin and high jump. The girls 4x100 relay is the first event scheduled on the track, at 5:30 p.m.

Of today’s events, top girls contenders from Hillsboro schools include Hilhi’s Anna Dean (100, 100 hurdles, 200, 4x100), Krissy Thomas (100, 4x100, 4x400) and Sami Moellmer (400, 300 hurdles, 4x400), Glencoe’s McClain (300 hurdles, 4x100) and Acosta (100, 4x100), and Century’s Braanna Weber (1,500, 800, 300 hurdles) and Jamie Adams (discus). Boys contenders include Glencoe’s Ryan England ( 800, 4x400) and Trebriel Larry (100, 200, 4x400), Hilhi’s Deveraux-Stevens (javelin) and Browning (400, 4x100), and Century’s Christian Gutierrez-Treat (high jump).

Note: The Northwest Oregon Conference also kicked off its district meet Thursday with preliminaries in most running events and finals in the 3,000 meters and half of the field events. The meet concludes today at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie. Field events begin with the boys javelin at 3:30 this afternoon, and the first final on the track, the girls 4x100 relay, is scheduled for 5 o’clock.

For the Falcons girls, Ashley Martin (100), Sarah Martinez (400), Elizabeth Pecsok (100 hurdles, high jump), as well as the short and long relay teams all entered the meet with the top mark in the conference in their respective events.

Among Liberty’s boys, James Marshall had the second-fastest 800 going into the meet, and Jon Horn had the second-longest throw in the javelin. And the long relay squad of Matthew Langbehn, Michael Francy, Marshall and Josh Cole posted the third-fastest time in the 4x400 relay coming into the meet, just a second slower than top-ranked Sherwood. Those two teams – and Sandy in between them –hold the three fastest times in Class 5A heading into this week’s district meets.

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