Hillsboro again honors Kellar with 52nd track invitational
The sport of track and field, along with a local icon of the sport, were celebrated this past Friday, April 26, as Hillsboro High School hosted the 52nd Elden Kellar Invitational at Hare Field in Hillsboro.
Eight teams, including all four Hillsboro high schools, competed with and against Columbia River, Canby, Dallas and Kelso on a warm, sunny and slightly windy day at the facility Elden Kellar was instrumental in planning and constructing more than 50 years ago.
The annual meet, in addition to exalting the sport and Coach Kellar with the competition on the track and field, offers an opportunity to honor athletes and coaches of yesteryear, blessed by the opportunity to learn under the tutelage of one of this city's greats.
Former Hillsboro High School athlete, teacher and coach Larry Binkerd; former Hilhi teacher Kent Smith, who has been starting Spartans track meets for 52 years; longtime teacher and administrator Ralph Brown; and Kellar's son Scott, who coaches boys basketball at Century High School, were honored at midfield prior to the action, representing a half-century of track and field history in Hillsboro.
Elden Kellar taught in the Hillsboro School District for more than three decades, first at Hilhi and later at Glencoe, before retiring from both coaching and teaching in 1991.
While at Hillsboro, Kellar won a string of 52 straight dual meets from 1964 to 1976, then after three straight defeats, he won 50 more.
He won 13 league titles, three times his teams placed second and twice third at the state meet, and won a boys state title at Glencoe in 1989.
In addition to his teams' success, Kellar also coached 15 individual state champions and was selected as the 1993 junior boys coach for the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In 2005, Kellar was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.
But while he was a celebrated and decorated coach by his peers and pupils, it was the coaching — and specifically this day — that Kellar loved most.
"Obviously when we say it was Elden's 'favorite day,' it was, and he looked forward to it very year," Hillsboro High School athletic director Steve Drake said of the Hare Field meet.
And on this day, the meet and the athletes competing would not disappoint.
Glencoe won the girls division, scoring 148.5 points, 39 clear of second-place Canby.
Meanwhile, Dallas won a tightly contested boys division, scoring 103.5 points, narrowly defeating second-place Kelso (96), third-place Liberty (95), fourth-place Glencoe (91) and fifth-place Columbia River (88).
The Tide girls got individual wins from Madison McGlasson in both the 100-meter (15.26) and 300-meter (47.20) hurdles, the discus by Jenna Gaskin (117-08), and pole vault by Gabriella Justen (11-feet), in addition to winning the 4x100 relay (McGlasson, Avery Jensen, Devon Evenson, Morgan DeBord) with a time of 50.78.
Liberty, which placed third in the girls' division, got wins from senior Asha Sanders in the 200 meters (26.69), Breanna Rebich in the 3,000 meters (11:18.07), and junior Emma Parish in the 400 meters (1:00.15).
A lighthearted Parish said she tried a little something different on this day, as opposed to previous races.
"I tried a new method, and it worked out well: Run as fast as you can," Parish quipped.
In addition to simply running well, Parish said she took more from the race due to the heightened level of competition.
"I felt like I had a really good race," she said. "It means a lot because there's a lot more competition here, so to win was pretty nice."
Hillsboro finished fourth, just a point behind Liberty. Despite not getting any individual wins, the Spartan girls garnered second-place finishes from Alison Okorie in the 100-meter hurdles (16.58), Madeline Lambing in the 300-meter hurdles (49.95), Savannah Weight in the high jump (5-01) and Kayla Mitchell in the long jump (15-08.50), along with the 4x100 relay team consisting of Megan Nelson, Asia Mitchell, Lexi Lacatus and Olympia Matuk.
The Century girls were led by freshman Sarah Rossetti, who placed fifth in the 200 meters (27.63) and third in the 400 meters (1:01.68); Logan Olafson (11:25.31) and Cassidy Hendren (11:48.36), who finished second and third in the 3,000 meters; and Kayla Rueber, who placed second in the shot put (37-03.50).
On the boys side, Dallas won thanks primarily to the performance of sprinters Malaki Connella and Clayton Morrow. Connella won the 100 meters (11.41), 200 meters (22.15) and 400 meters (51.25), while Morrow placed second in the 100 and 200. Both were also part of the Dragons' winning 4x100 meter relay team, which won with a time of 44.25, more than a second faster than Glencoe and Hillsboro.
The Spartan boys, like the girls, failed to get an individual win, but got seconds from Daniel Popovych in the 400 meters (52.23), Slade Shufelt in the 110-meter hurdles (16.23) and Jacob Cooke in the high jump (5-10).
Liberty's third-place finish was paced — per usual — by senior Aidan Maloney, who won the 110-meter hurdles (14.96), the 300-meter hurdles (42.60), the high jump (6-04) and the long jump (20-07.50). Maloney was pleased with the wins, but he said there's also plenty to work on going forward.
"I did alright," he said. "I was a little disappointed with the long jump, because I didn't get the marks I wanted, but I got the win, so I can't complain about that."
Maloney also noted that his performance meant a bit more due to the magnitude of the event, and the coach whose name and career it honors.
"This definitely means more because I know how much Elden Kellar means to this sport," Maloney said. "I came here a number of years ago at one of the all-comers meets and I remember competing in the high jump, and of all the kids there, Elden Kellar came up to me and my dad and was coaching me. So it's something special to compete in his meet and win some events."
Glencoe, which finished fourth, did yeoman's work in the relays, earning second in the 4x100 (45.39) relay and winning the 4x400 (3:33.49). In addition, sophomore Derric Johnson won the triple jump (39-10.50), and the Tide boys got third-place finishes from Jonathan Ashford in the shot put (44-09.50) and Justin Lazenby in the pole vault (13-06).
Lazenby, who also placed ninth in the 100 meters and was part of the second place 4x100 relay team, is a remarkable story in his own right. He competed despite suffering tears of his ACL, MCL and meniscus in his knee playing football last September .
"It feels great to be back competing again," Lazenby said. "They told me it would be an eight- to 10-month recovery, and I was like, 'There goes my track season.' But I just stayed focused on getting back, and I'm here competing, and I feel fast and am in better shape than I was last year."
The senior said he began rehabilitation as soon as he was medically cleared. He spent countless hours participating in physical therapy and strength training to get back.
"I think tearing my ACL was more of a blessing, because it showed me that with hard work and dedication, you can do anything," Lazenby said. "There were times when I wondered if it was worth it, but now I'm back."
Now, with this year's event behind them, Drake and the rest of the organizers, athletes and coaches associated with Elder Kellar's namesake look forward to next year, along with what they hope will be many more years to come.
"This event means a lot to me, because (Kellar) touched a lot of lives and coaches that are still today coaching the sport that he loved," Drake said. "So for me to continue to run a first-class meet and make sure his name is honored and his legacy continues is something special, and I want to make sure that this meet never takes a step back on my watch."