Spartan girls turn in a dominant performance to win their second district track title in three years

NEWBERG — Champions again.

It took until the very last event to seal the deal, but the Hillsboro girls are district meet champions once again.

On the strength of a mind-blowing performance from Anna Dean and an ever-game sprint crew, the Spartans edged McMinnville 124 to 120.3 last Friday at Newberg High School to claim their second Pacific Conference district title in three seasons.

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro teammates Kylee Taube (right) and Anna Dean share an embrace after helping the Spartans to victory in the 4x100-meter relay last Friday at the district track meet.

“The girls are talented girls and great girls and a lot of fun to have on the team,” Hilhi coach Tim Kasper said. “And they just came through again.”

Entering the final event of the meet, the 4x400-meter relay, the Spartans trailed the Grizzlies by a little more than a point. That meant if either relay could win the race, it would also win the meet for its team.

Good thing Hilhi’s long relay team is its ace in the hole, then.

Sami Moellmer, Kennedy Taube, Kylee Taube and Krissy Thomas pulled away early and crushed the field by almost four seconds to win in 4 minutes, 2.69 seconds to lock up the team title. McMinnville finished fourth.

“I just think we did the best we could,” Dean said. “Everyone gave everything they had. We finished really strong.”

Dean had a little bit to do with that, too.

Between last Thursday’s preliminaries and Friday’s finals, the superlative junior absolutely crushed it, winning all four of her events as well as setting five meet records and one school record while helping tie another.

Her banner Friday started in the 4x100 relay, when she, Thomas, and the Taube sisters set a meet record and tied the school record (48.15). The momentum continued into the sprints, when Dean (12.22), Thomas (12.34) and Kylee Taube (12.29) went 1-2-5 in the 100.

That was tough to top, but Dean managed in the 100 hurdles. There, the reigning state champion blasted the field in 14.18 to finally break Erin Kelly’s longstanding school record (14.61, set in 1998). Only Tigard’s Lindsey Rosette — third at state last season — was within shouting distance (14.86) at the finish.

“Every race I just got more and more speechless at how I was competing, because I was going over my expectations,” Dean said.

That hurdles performance had both Kasper and Hilhi hurdles coach Larry Binkerd speculating that Dean had moved into the top 10 all-time in Oregon history.

Try top two. Only Lincoln’s Bianca Mathabane (13.57, 2006) has run faster.

Dean capped her day by leading Thomas and Taube to a 1-2-3 finish in the 200. The junior was just 0.14 seconds off her PR in 25.74. Thomas finished in 26.27, with Taube next in 26.95.

Kennedy Taube (first, 400, 58.94) and Mikayla Webb (second, discus, 110 feet, 8 inches) also qualified for state as individuals. Webb (javelin, 116-3) and Moellmer (400, 1:01.33) added fourth-place finishes.

Other key scorers for the Spartans were Lauren Lykins (fourth, 800, 2:23.90), Payton Johnson (fourth, discus, 106-2), Alana Baldwin-Joiner (sixth, 3,000, 11:18.26) and Anna Mathisen (sixth, shot put, 30-5½).

Courtney Vacek and Leah McClain led Glencoe to fourth place (87.3 points) with individual victories.

Going into the last triple jump round, Vacek trailed Tualatin’s Karina Moreland, the 2013 champ, by a fraction of an inch. But Vacek bombed out to 38 feet, 7 inches on her last try to top Moreland (36-10) by nearly two feet. Both girls shattered the 1995 meet record by Forest Grove’s Kristin Sanders (36-2¾). Vacek’s leap tied for the 11th-longest ever among Oregon girls.

“I could tell as I was jumping that it was far,” said Vacek, who also finished fifth in the long jump (16-3½). “And when I landed, I kind of stopped and I looked back, and I was like, ‘OK, that looks OK.’ It felt different.”

As for McClain, she got what she wanted in the 300 hurdles. A year after finishing in the hard-luck third spot, the Tide junior gapped the field in the homestretch to win by more than a second (45.85), setting off a wave of emotions at the finish HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Members of the Hilhi girls track team pose with their Pacific Conference championship trophy last Friday after a dominant performance at the district track and field meet.

“It feels so good,” McClain said. “I worked so hard, and oh, man, I wanted that so bad.”

As for eighth-place Century (35 points), the Jaguars will send Braanna Weber to state for the third consecutive year. The junior finished second in the 800 in 2:21.55 behind Tigard’s Megan Franz (2:20.35). Weber also took fourth in the 1,500 (4:57.97) and fifth in the 300 hurdles (50.12).

Martyna Adamiec added a third place in the high jump (5-0), while Darryll Buckley took fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.84) for Century.

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