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The White Buffalo track teams qualified for state in 16 different events at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Madras senior Ethan Tapia (left) passes the baton to junior Isaiah Wapsheli (center) during the White Buffalos' victory in the 4x400 relay at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships in Estacada on Saturday, May 14, to help Madras win the boys district title. Both Tapia and Wapsheli qualified for state in three different events.

The Madras track and field teams are coming home from the Tri-Valley Conference Championships with a massive haul of hardware.

The White Buffalo boys team claimed the district title and the girls took second, with each side placing first in five different events at the conference championships on Saturday, May 14, at Estacada High School. It was as close to a best-case scenario as could have been expected for the Buffs, which qualified in a total of 16 events — eight apiece between the boys and girls.

Boys run away with district championship

The Madras boys ran away with the Tri-Valley title on Saturday, scoring 173 points to put themselves well clear of the second-place battle between Molalla (125) and Estacada (124). The scoring was rounded out by Corbett (96) in fourth place, North Marion (75) in fifth and Gladstone (59) taking sixth.

Isaiah Wapsheli was one of the three Madras boys to qualify for state in three different events, and he was the only one to win two individual district titles at the TVC Championships. The junior took first place in the 3,000 on Friday, May 13, in the opening day of action, and then Wapsheli followed that up by setting a new personal record in the 1,500 on Saturday. He ran the race in 4:30.47 to win by nearly nine seconds, and he later took part in the boys 4x400 relay team that outpaced Molalla by more than two seconds to place first with a time of 3:40.56.

Wapsheli showed massive improvement from last season, when he placed fifth at districts in the 1,500 and eighth in the 3,000. The junior also made similar gains while qualifying for state in cross country this past fall, and now he is heading to the state track championships for the first time.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - After anchoring the district champion boys 4x400 relay, Madras senior Ethan Nava is going back to the state championships for the third time in his career. Nava qualified in the 400 as a junior and in the 4x400 relay in his freshman year; however, last year's 4x400 relay team missed out on state qualification by just .04 seconds.Also running in that 4x400 relay were the other three-time qualifiers, senior Ethan Tapia and sophomore Michael Picard, while senior Ethan Nava used a strong anchor leg to punch his ticket to Eugene next week. In addition to the 4x400, Madras also won the 4x100 relay behind the efforts of Picard, Tapia, junior Wade Simmelink and freshman Andres Pineda.

The 4x100 relay is making its second consecutive appearance in the state championships, though Simmelink is the only returning member of the team that went to Eugene last year. While speedsters Tapia and Picard were on the relay from the beginning of the season, Simmelink missed a few weeks due to other commitments and the freshman Pineda was only added after proving his mettle in early meets. With that foursome in place, Madras earned back-to-back district championships.

While the short relay made it to state in 2021, the 4x400 relay team was left behind last season after placing third at districts — by just .04 seconds. Nava and Tapia were both on that relay, and they were determined not to let the same fate befall them as seniors. The 4x400 was then rounded out by Picard and Wapsheli, giving the squad a balance of speed and endurance that translated into a trip to state. Nava has been to the state championships twice before, qualifying in the 400 as a junior and in the 4x400 as a freshman. Tapia, meanwhile, is making his first appearance at Hayward Field.

Elsewhere on the track, Tapia qualified for the state championships by placing second in the 300 hurdles (44.95), while Picard set a new PR in the 400 (52.63) to take second in that event. Both tracksters added their individual events to their respective repertoires midway through the season, so their qualifications are a further testament to a good eye for talent and fit within the Madras coaching staff. Picard also made a big push as a sophomore, qualifying in three events after not competing in districts as a freshman.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Madras junior Tobias Byrd won the district title in pole vault and qualified for state with a second-place finish in the high jump at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships on Friday and Saturday, May 13-14.The Buffs only had one qualifier in the field from the boys' side, but junior Tobias Byrd made the most of his two days in Estacada and earned his first trip to Eugene. Byrd took second in the high jump (5-06) on Friday, advancing to Eugene on a tiebreaker over a Corbett opponent. A similar situation took place on Saturday — only this time, the tiebreaker gave Byrd a district title in the pole vault after he hit 12-06 in fewer attempts than his fellow state qualifier, Caedyn Laninga of North Marion, who beat out Byrd for the second qualifying spot in last season's district meet.

Girls hit new gear to take second place

The girls team, meanwhile, had its own impressive showing at district to place second overall. The Buffs finished with 149 points, closer to first-place Estacada (168) than they were to third-place Molalla (120). The scoring was rounded out by a close race for fourth between Corbett (84) and North Marion (78), while Gladstone (12) placed a distant sixth.

Hannah MacDuffee was the top performer overall on the girls' side, grabbing district championships in both the 1,500 (5:25.64) and 3,000 (11:56.32). MacDuffee registered a big PR time in the 3,000 — going under 12 minutes for the first time — and the junior's 1,500 time was her best of the season. MacDuffee is heading back to the state championships after qualifying in the 1,500 last year and placing 11th overall.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Madras freshman Emily Picard (left) used a strong final push to edge out Molalla's Shelby Goetz (right) for the district championship in the 800. She also qualified for state as part of the Madras girls 4x400 relay team, which took second place behind strong legs from Picard, Isabelle Ludi, Feather Miller and Hannah MacDuffee.While MacDuffee's sweep in the long-distance races was to be expected, a more surprising result was Emily Picard winning the 800. The freshman used a strong push past Molalla's Shelby Goetz to finish in 2:39.79 — a new personal record, and less than three-tenths of a second ahead of Goetz. Picard has been a good closer all year long, showing bursts of speed down the stretch as opponents begin to fade, and that skill earned her a district title and a trip to the state championships.

In addition to qualifying in those individual events, Picard and MacDuffee also took part in the 4x400 relay that finished in 4:32.16 — an improvement of over ten seconds from its previous season-best — to earn a surprise second place. The other legs of the race were seniors Isabelle Ludi and Feather Miller, each of whom placed top-five in two other track events in addition to qualifying for state in the relay.

Those seniors are both going to state for the first time after each experienced disappointment at the district finals last season. Ludi was a top-five long jumper in the district going into the finals last year, but she fouled on her attempt in the TVC Championships as a junior. As for Miller, she missed out on state by just .03 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles. Now, both are punching tickets to Eugene.

So, too, is fellow senior Briann Ellis, who took second in the pole vault (7-06). Ellis took fourth at districts in the event last season but vaulted herself into state qualification as a senior. She nearly made it a double in the high jump, but she placed third in the high jump (4-04). Still, Ellis is going to Hayward Field for the first time thanks to a strong showing in her best event.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Madras junior Illiana Hance defended her district title in the javelin at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships on Saturday, May 14. Hance threw a personal-best 117-04 to take first place in the javelin, and her high jump of 4-06 was good enough for second place. The junior also qualified for state in both events last season.One of the two finishers ahead of Ellis in the high jump was junior teammate Illiana Hance, who took second place (4-06) to qualify for state. Even more impressively, Hance repeated as district champion in the javelin thanks to a new PR of 117-04 — the second-best mark in Class 4A to date. The junior qualified in both events last year, too, taking eighth in the high jump and 10th in javelin at the 2021 OSAA 4A State Championships. Hance missed some time earlier this year due to injury, but those rest-and-recovery days paid off when it truly counted.

Fellow junior Matty Buck is also going back to state after a strong showing in the throws. After taking second in the discus last season at districts and placing 11th at state, Buck became the Tri-Valley shot put champion on Saturday with a toss of 28-11. In addition to winning the shot put event, the versatile Buck also placed fifth in the discus and seventh in the javelin this past weekend.

Buffs just barely miss out in many events

In addition to Ellis' third-place finish, the Madras boys team also had plenty of near-misses, earning seven bronze medals in Estacada — the most controversial of which came in the 110-meter hurdles.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - After a controversial final in the 110 hurdles during which Gladstone senior Blake Meisner (left) stopped due to an apparent false start, a second heat was run. While Madras junior Johan Poland (right) had originally finished in second place, Meisner logged a faster time in the re-run — knocking Poland out of the state championships.One of the favorites to qualify for state, Gladstone senior Blake Meisner, stopped due to an apparent false start in Saturday's 110 hurdles final; however, the rest of the race continued as normal and left Meisner behind. In that race, Madras junior Johan Poland placed second with a time of 17.44. Later, though, a decision was made to allow a second heat to be run at the end of the meet. In that second heat, Meisner logged a time of 16.86 — pushing Poland out of qualification for next week's state championships in Eugene. In his other events, Poland placed fifth in the discus and 300-meter hurdles while taking seventh in the javelin.

Three of the Buffs' other third-place finishes came from the Madras relay runners, including Picard in the 100 (11.95), Pineda in the 200 (24.03) and Simmelink in the triple jump (37-07.5). Andres Aguilar missed out on qualifying by just a quarter inch in the long jump (19-10.75), while fellow freshmen Oliver Nilles and Eben Tapia took more distant third-place marks in the pole vault (10-03) and 1,500 (4:43.43), respectively. Simmelink, Aguilar and Tapia each set new personal records while earning bronze.

Other Buffs to place in the boys meet include junior Hayden Heath (seventh in shot put), sophomores Tommy Alvarez (eighth in 300 hurdles), Sebastian Bisland (fifth in pole vault) and Damian Fuentes (sixth in 200), and freshmen Diego Arthur (fifth in triple jump) and Steve Gonzalez (fourth in triple jump, sixth in long jump). On the girls' side, the other placers at the meet were senior Sierra Adams (fourth in triple jump, fourth in 4x100 relay), junior Arellya Scott (sixth in discus, eighth in shot put), sophomores Austin Erwen (fourth in 4x100 relay, fifth in triple jump) and Talise Wapsheli (fourth in 3,000, sixth in 1,500), as well as freshmen Adelynn Adams (fourth in 4x100 relay, fifth in 100, fifth in long jump) and Hannah Pope (seventh in 400).

While the Buffs will lose a strong contingent of seniors after this season, the team could bring back nine state qualifiers and more than 20 district placers next year. The junior varsity squad also had a good showing at their district meet on Monday, May 9, winning nine events at Heckard Field in Molalla. Suffice it to say, no matter where the Buffs finish at the state championships this season, the Madras track and field program is in a good place.

The OSAA 4A Track and Field State Championships will take place at Hayward Field in Eugene over Friday and Saturday, May 20-21. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the OSAA website online at www.osaa.org.


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