Hillsboro-area athletes turn in some of the best performances at the Elden Kellar Invitational

At last Friday’s Elden Kellar Invitational at Hare Field, the four Hillsboro schools combined for three wins in 17 events.

But don’t be mistaken — while Century, Liberty Glencoe and Hillsboro did not often find the top step of the podium, the four local schools still provided plenty of highlights with a bevy of top-four finishes at the 47th edition of the meet, named for the beloved former Glencoe and Hilhi track and field HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hilhi's Michael Gonzalez soars to a first-place finish in the triple jump last Friday.

Hilhi posted the best team finish of any local school with a competitive fourth-place result. The Spartans scored 86½ points to finish behind Washington programs Kelso (118½) and Columbia River (115), as well as Canby (101). Liberty took fifth place (68), followed by Grant (66), Century (57) and Glencoe (51).

Michael Gonzalez, Cricket Browning and Conner Yazzolino paced the Spartans boys, who showed plenty of depth with 11 top-four finishes. Gonzalez proved clutch on his final attempt to take the boys long jump title and improve on the longest mark in the Pacific Conference this season, while Browning finished second in both the 400 meters and 300 hurdles. Yazzolino picked up three top-four finishes in the jumps to score 19 points.

After scratching on two of his five previous attempts — including a lengthy foul on his fifth jump — Gonzalez put up a mark of 21 feet, 11½ inches to earn the victory ahead of Kelso’s Somit Chhim (21-2½).

“My second-to-last jump, I had scratched it and everyone that was watching told me it was big, so I was just praying to God that I could get on that board and get another big one,” Gonzalez said.

Browning put up two personal bests in his runner-up results. He covered the one-lap event in 50.88 seconds to finish behind only Josh Cole of Liberty, whose 50.31 also was a personal record. Later in the meet, Browning went 41.07 in the intermediate hurdles behind Canby’s Timothy Johnson (40.54).

Other scorers for Hilhi included Sage Roundtree (third, 110 hurdles, 17.19); Debo Browning (third, shot put, 43-6; third, discus, 129-3); Ben Speer (third, javelin, 157-9); Tony Jesko (fifth, discus, 118-11; seventh, shot put, 41-7½); Jed Thomas (tie for sixth, high jump, 5-6); and Anton Dean (eighth, 110 hurdles, 18.94).

Additionally, the 4x100 meter relay team of Cricket Browing, Gonzalez, Dean and Eddie Kalamau took fourth in 44.65, while Matt Jones, Rene Carmolinga, Kalamau and Gonzalez were sixth in the long relay (3:46.04).

Along with Cole in the 400, Michael Francy picked up a win for Liberty. His victory came in the 1,500, an event he also won at the E.K. in 2013. This time around, Francy led much of the way.

“To run a good 800 and see if I can just hold on,” Francy said about his race plan.

The strategy turned out to be sound, though Glencoe’s Mason Rouches did make Francy work for the win, passing him heading into the final lap.

But Francy surged to the front again in the final 300 meters and then fended off Rouches and a hard-charging Austin Blakenship of Columbia River to prevail in a personal best of 4:07.87, almost eight seconds faster than his winning time last spring. Blankenship (4:08.34) and Rouches (4:08.87) also set PRs.

Francy’s distance teammates also put up some pretty impressive performances. Austin Finster cracked the 2-minute barrier in the 800 for the first time, finishing second in 1:59.84 to Kelso runner Ron Leaf’s 1:58.81. And in the 3,000, Dominick Marshall took fourth in 9:17.82, the third-fastest mark in the Northwest Oregon Conference this season.

Cole added a sixth place in the 200 (23.38). He combined with Matthew Langbehn, Finster and Francy to finish fourth in the long relay (3:31.01), and with Nick Bonat, Nkole Mwansa and Langbehn to place sixth in the short relay (45.13).

Bonat also contributed big points as an individual, finishing second in the 110 hurdles (15.80) and third in the 300 hurdles (41.99). Other Liberty scorers were Byron Greenlee (fourth, shot put, 43-2¾) and Langbehn (fourth, 400, 53.26).

For Century, Austin Albert posted the top result of any Jaguar with a second place in the javelin. His toss of 169-7 was a PR by almost eight feet. He also took sixth in the discus (114-9), while Angel Salazar posted matching fifth-place finishes in the 1,500 (4:15.75) and 3,000 (9:25.76).

Talented freshman Derek Jackson also scored twice in solo events (fifth, 200, 23.18; sixth, 400, 54.03). Other Jaguars who put up points included Connor Lorber (fifth, high jump, 5-8); Anthony Dilorenzo (tie for fifth, triple jump, 38-0); Henry Pham (sixth, 110 hurdles, 18.36); Christian Gutierrez-Treat (sixth, 300 hurdles, 45.82; tie for sixth, high jump, 5-6); Kyle Morris (sixth, javelin, 147-11); Hao Pham (seventh, pole vault, 11-0); Hassan Muse (seventh, 800, 2:07.24); and Ton Catandella (eighth, 100, 11.67).

Additionally, Century’s short relay (Catandella, Hao Pham, Ryan Durrant, Jackson) was fifth in 44.83 and its long relay (Catandella, Drew Scott, Lorber and Muse) took seventh (3:47.71).

Glencoe’s Justin Worthy picked up second-place finishes behind Columbia River’s James Niemela in both the shot put and discus, throwing 46-6¾ in the shot and 129-4 in the discus — good for a nearly 10-foot PR. The discus mark, which came on his fourth attempt, bumped him up to sixth on the Pacific Conference list, less than eight feet outside of second.

“The discus, that was amazing,” said Worthy, who has picked up the event just this year. “I didn’t practice discus all (last) week, and kind of out of the blue it all came together finally.”

Chaz Chavez also finished second in an event, going 5-10 in the high jump. In addition to Worthy, Chavez and Rouches, Tide scorers were Jonathan O’Brien (fifth, 110 hurdles, 17.79; eighth, 300 hurdles, 46.44); Nikolai Shapland (sixth, long jump, 18-11; seventh, triple jump, 37-9); David Vanoudenhaegen (eighth, shot put, 40-4¼; eighth, javelin, 141-1); and Lucas Fort (eighth, discus, 106-10).

Glencoe also finished eighth in both relays, with Brendan Markowski, Jaime Gonzalez, Joel Biamont and Jonathan Rodriguez running the 400 relay (47.40) and Kirk Anderson, Rodriguez Jack Samuelson and Shad Mont racing the 1,600 relay (3:50.72).

Note: The Canby short relay team of Noah Walker, Josh Payne, Devon Fortier and Dominic Shorter ran a time of 42.21 to set the fastest mark in the state this season and break Glencoe’s 1989 meet record. Columbia River’s Marcus Gaylor and Fortier also came within fractions of second of the meet records in both the 100 and 200.

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