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St. Paul is led by Isabelle Wyss who could qualify for state in as many as four events

PHIL HAWKINS -- WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - Taysha Veeman was second in the 400 (1:10.19) and fifth in the 100 (13.94) last week as St. Paul hosted a Tri-River/Pac-West meet April 26.

With the stretch run of the track and field season in sight, the St. Paul Buckaroos are beginning to round into shape and expect to be well represented at the state championship meet in Eugene later this month.

At the head of the Bucks' list of state qualifier hopefuls is sophomore Isabelle Wyss, who is looking to qualify as an individual after making the trip to University of Oregon's Hayward Field last season as a part of St. Paul's state runner-up 4 x 400 relay team.

Wyss made her case in multiple events at last week's Tri-River/PacWest track meet, hosted at St. Paul High School on April 26, finishing the day with victories in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the long jump and triple jump.

The sophomore ranks among the state's best 2A athletes in all four events. She shaved off a tenth of a second from her personal record in the 100, clocking in at 13.24 seconds — the eighth-best time recorded at the 2A level this season — for her fourth straight win in the event this season.

Wyss' victory in the 200 (27.74) was a quarter-second off her PR, but her biggest strides this season have come in the jumping events.

As a freshman, Wyss struggled to consistently put up marks beyond 14-feet in the long jump, but this year she has eclipsed 15 feet in all but one meet, winning on Thursday with a mark of 15-5.

Wyss gave up competition in the high jump this year in favor of the triple jump and has immediately become a contender for a state title. She won the event on Thursday with a mark of 32-08.5, which actually ranks as her shortest leap this year. She set her personal best in the event on April 10 with a mark of 33-09.5, which remains the third-best mark in the state.

Although the Bucks did not field a relay team in their home meet, the team is a likely contender to qualify for state in both the 4 x 100 and the 4 x 400 this season. Wyss and Rachel Vela were part of last year's second place 4 x 400 relay team, and are joined this season by Logan Robinson and Taysha Veeman. Together, the quartet have logged the second-best time in the league with a finish of 4:28.09 on April 10. They've been even better in the short relay, where they hold the league's best time of 52.90, third-best time in the state this year.

On the boy's side, senior Holden Smith is hoping to finally punch his ticket to state in the 1,500 after missing out in each of the previous three seasons. Smith has yet to be beaten this year in the event, earning his sixth consecutive victory Thursday with a season-best time of 4:27.1 that ranks as the second-best finish in the conference this year.

Perhaps more important was his win in the 800, as he clocked in at 2:07.50 to move into a dense cluster of five runners all hovering close to East Linn Christian's Jedaiah Wasson's league-leading time of 2:04.74.

Thursday's meet also previewed a showdown in the 4 x 100 relay between the Bucks and the league-favorite Regis Rams. St. Paul's team of Gianni Grasso, Jaden Thompson, Jaidyn Jackson and Justin Herberger claimed a photo finish over the Rams by 0.02 seconds, clocking a time of 46.06. It was a season-best time in the event for the Bucks, but just shy of the best time (45.93) Regis has put up this season.

St. Paul will wrap up the regular season Friday with a trip to Stayton for the Regis Community Twilight Invitational, before traveling to Mount Angel for Tri-River District Championship May 10-11 at Kennedy.

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