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Girls team brings home four district titles, while Dela Cerda sets state's top javelin mark

PHIL HAWKINS - WOODBURN INDEPENDENT - St. Paul sophomore Alex Dela Cerda won the Tri-River district javelin title Friday with a new personal-best throw of 170 feet, 9 inches. The toss was an improvement of over 27 feet from his previous best set last year as a freshman.

MOUNT ANGEL -- The St. Paul track and field team had its share of memorable performances and frustratingly narrow defeats on Thursday and Friday at the Tri-River Conference Track and Field Championships at Kennedy High School.

Led by the team's short and long relay teams, the Buckaroos will send a contingent of 17 athletes to the Class 2A state championships Thursday and Friday in Eugene.

The Bucks came home with five districts titles — four by the girls, who placed fourth overall at the event with 96.5 points. The boys placed third overall with 91 points, just half a point ahead of Central Linn.

The St. Paul girls swept both relay events and head to Eugene as state champion hopefuls.

Taysha Veeman, Isabelle Wyss, Rachel Vela and Logan Robinson combined to give the Bucks a win in the 4 x 100-meter relay, setting a new season-best time of 51.17 that has the team seeded second at state.

The foursome also won the 4 x 400 relay, shaving nearly eight seconds off their season-best time to win in 4:20.99, also second best among state entries.

Individually, Vela will compete in two more running events after winning the 400-meter run in 1:02.93 and finishing second in the 100-meter dash in 13.36.

Wyss had a stellar day individually as well, adding almost 18 inches to her PR to win the triple jump with a mark of 36-03, good enough claim the top seed at state.

Wyss also set a personal-best time of 27.02 in the 200, but was beat out by Central Linn's Gracie Robb for second by 0.02 seconds to miss qualifying (2A does not have wild card bids, unlike 1A, 5A and 6A).

Senior Logan Robinson rounds out the girls' state team after placing second in the long jump with a mark of 14-feet 11-inches.

The St. Paul boys will also send both of their relay teams to the state after finishing runner-up in both events.

Gianni Grasso, Jaden Thompson, Jaidyn Jackson and Justin Herberger combined for an exciting finish in the 4 x 100, finishing in 45.69 to push out Central Linn (45.85) for the second place and the final qualifying position.

In the 4 x 400, Grasso, Thompson and Jackson joined Holden Smith took second in 3:40.54. Both times were season bests for the boys relay teams and rank St. Paul amid the top-four state qualifiers.

Smith qualified individually as well, setting a new PR of 4:21.38 to place second in the 1,500, while narrowly falling short in the 800 after placing third in the 2:08.09.

The boys' lone district title came from sophomore Alex Dela Cerda, who had a career day in the throwing events.

Dela Cerda entered the district qualifiers looking to return to state in the javelin after placing 11th in the event at Eugene last year. He did so in emphatic fashion, uncorking a monstrous throw of 170-09 on his fourth attempt to win and destroy his PR by more than 28 feet and win the district title.

Dela Cerda's throw is the best mark in 2A competition this season and would have been good enough to win the state title in last year's competition.

Unfortunately, Dela Cerda fell just short in the other two throwing events despite valiant efforts. The sophomore added another big PR in the shot put, eclipsing his previous best by nearly two feet with a throw of 42-07.5, but fell three inches shy of the top two places to settle for third.

Dela Cerda added another third-place finish in the discus with a mark of 119-09.5.

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