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The Madras track and field team hosted its first home meet of the season in a fun-filled dual against rival Crook County.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - In the most exciting race of the day, Madras sophomore Michael Picard (center) edged out senior teammate Ethan Nava (left) and Crook County senior Kyree Willis to win the 400-meter dash. All three runners finished with 0.75 seconds of each other.

After all the dust had settled — and after all the pizza had been eaten — there was not much separation the Madras and Crook County track teams.

Madras High School hosted a dual track meet with Crook County on Wednesday, April 27, as a way to stoke the friendly flames of rivalry ahead of the Prineville school's drop down to Class 4A next year. If Wednesday's results are any indication, these two squads will have plenty of good battles when they share a district next spring.

The White Buffalos won the team scoring in the boys' events, prevailing 77.66-61.33 thanks to some strong showings on the track and in the jumps. The Cowgirls defeated Madras 89-57 on the girls' side, with Crook County's athletes sweeping the girls throwing events and the short-distance races.

The best race of the day came in the final heat of the boys 400 meters, where Madras sophomore Michael Picard nosed in front of senior teammate Ethan Nava and Crook County senior Kyree Willis to win the event with a time of 54.91 seconds. Both Nava and Willis finished less than a second behind Picard, who also placed second in the 100 while logging a new personal best time of 11.81. As a result, Picard now holds the Tri-Valley's second-fastest times in both events.

"It was super intense," said Nava of the tightly contested 400-meter dash.

A season ago, Nava easily had the fastest 400 time on the team. Although Picard has edged past him on the MHS leaderboard for the time being, the senior says he is glad to have some more competition from his own teammates in that event. Fellow senior Ethan Tapia is only a half-second behind Picard and Nava, too.

"It was really nice having that race and that competition," continued Nava. "Last year, I didn't have it. So, it was super nice this year having my teammate push me — but hopefully I can catch him next time."

The wins didn't stop there for the Madras runners. Isaiah Wapsheli set a new personal record in the 800-meter race, winning both that event and the 3,000, where he was less than one second slower than his current PR time. Elsewhere in the individual track events, freshman Eben Tapia took first in the 1,500 and his older brother, senior Ethan Tapia, was tops in the 300 hurdles. In the boys relays, Madras won an uncontested 4x400 but fell to Crook County in the 4x100 after a fumbled handoff between Ethan Tapia and second leg Tobias Byrd. Tapia had a healthy lead over the Cowboys' Willis going into the exchange, but the Buffs fell a few steps behind after the chaotic baton pass.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - After winning the pole vault event with a PR jump of 11-06 on Wednesday, April 27, Madras junior Tobias Byrd took second in the high jump by matching his PR of 5-08.In the field, the Cowboys swept the throws while Madras took wins in three of the four jumping events. Those winners included Byrd, who set a new PR in the pole vault with a clearance of 11 feet and six inches, and who also placed second in the high jump by tying his current PR of 5-08. Freshmen Andres Aguilar and Steve Gonzalez also set new PRs in every event they competed in. While Crook County did not compete in the long jump, Aguilar and Gonzalez finished first and second as they improved their season-best distances. Gonzalez's other PR came in the triple jump, while Aguilar's other events were on the track as he competed in the 100, 200 and 400.

Hayden Heath led the Madras team in both the discus and shot put — placing fourth and fifth in those events, respectively — but this is an area where the Crook County team truly shone in both the boys and girls events. On the girls' side, Crook County swept the first-place honors, but Madras junior Matty Buck did grab some points for the White Buffalos. Buck finished second in the javelin and third in the shot put, while fellow junior Arellya Scott was tops in the discus, where she set a new PR while placing fifth overall.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras senior Briann Ellis has a new PR in the pole vault after clearing eight feet for the first time on Wednesday, April 27.As for jumps, Madras senior Briann Ellis had the top marks in both the high jump and pole vault, setting a new PR in the latter. Ellis cleared eight feet for the first time ever, but she is still not fully satisfied.

"That is big for me," said Ellis. "I've been trying to get over eight feet in a meet for a while, and I cleared it by six inches. My goal this year has been nine feet — so, I have a couple more meets to try to hit that."

Ellis had a good feeling going into the meet on Wednesday.

"I was like, 'We're home, it's nice out — I want to hit it,'" explained Ellis, who knew that her old PR stood no chance under those circumstances. And she was right.

In the other two jumps, Madras freshman Adelynn Adams tied for second place in the long jump with a leap of 13-09 — just one inch off the winning mark. In the triple jump, no Madras athlete could match Sofia Langley's distance, but all four White Buffalo jumpers set new PRs. Sierra Adams finished second in the event, with sophomore Austin Erwen, Ellis and freshman Hannah Pope taking the next three places.

On the track, there was a clear divide between the two teams in terms of distance. While Crook County was undefeated in the six races of 400 meters or shorter — including the 4x100 relay and both hurdles events — Madras swept the longer races. Emily Picard, a promising freshman runner, won the 800 while junior standout Hannah MacDuffee placed first in the 1,500 and 3,000. The Madras 4x400 team also won in an uncontested race.

Once all the official events were finished on Wednesday night, one important race remained — the throwers' relay. In this fun and fan-friendly event, which was playfully dubbed the Ernie Brooks Invitational in honor of Crook County's track coach, each team put together its best 4x100 relay team made up exclusively of athletes from the throwing events.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Following the official track meet, Madras and Crook County finished out the day by putting on an unofficial throwers' relay. In order to finish the race, the teams had to complete a 4x100 relay — and then devour an entire medium pepperoni pizza.The other wrinkle: once each anchor leg crossed the finish line, the full relay team had to devour an medium pizza in order to complete the event. While Madras had the faster runners in the unofficial relay, a team of Cowboys scored a comeback win by being quickest to clear their plates.

It was a fun, frantic way to end a day full of tight competition — and it provided a bit of good-natured bulletin board material for Madras ahead of next year's dual with Crook County. The plan, according to Madras head coach Mike Dove, is to alternate hosting duties between the two schools as this becomes an annual event.

The White Buffalos return to Madras High School again next week for another home meet. It will be Senior Night for the MHS track team, which will be taking on Corbett in a dual meet. As it stands, the Cardinals are the only Tri-Valley team that Madras has not seen this season.

The following week is districts, with the JV district meet scheduled for Monday, May 9, in Molalla. The varsity district meet will take place at Estacada High School over Friday and Saturday, May 13-14. The OSAA 4A Track and Field State Championships will be held in Eugene the following week, May 20-21.

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