Tiger junior will race in her first state meet after taking home a seventh-place finish at Pacific Conference district meet

By B. Scott Anderson

Graphic correspondent

McMINNVILLE – Newberg High School Junior Abigail Hein qualified for her first state meet Thursday at Joe Dancer Park as she took home a seventh-place individual finish at the Pacific Conference district meet.

Hein finished with a time of 20 minutes, 5 seconds, after narrowly being edged out of sixth place by Sherwood's Madison Ramos (20:04). Forest Grove's Hannah Aguirre (19:01) took home the individual championship.

"She should've been in the mix up there and was," coach Bruce Sinkbeil said. "She ran really smart, though. She was in about 15th place at the mile mark and she just kind of slowly started picking people off."

With about a half-mile remaining in the race, Hein was in eighth and battling Forest Grove's Mila Lumae. In the final 100 meters, Hein sprinted toward the finish line – an impressive seven seconds ahead of Lumae.

"She ran a great race in the second half of it," Sinkbeil said.

With her efforts, Hein will head Saturday to the Class 6A state meet at Lane Community College. The conditions and venue of the state meet will be different than district and it is a race with a multitude of competitors – some of whom Hein has not raced against this year. Sinkbeil said Hein's goal will be to match her placing at the district meet.

"If you retain your seventh place from the Pacific Conference, then that's good," he said. "When the results are listed and you look at all of the Pacific Conference kids, are you still in seventh place? That's kind of what you're looking at because you're not really looking at times. If you've done that, then you probably ran a pretty good race and possibly beat some girls you've previously gone against."

As a team, Newberg took home fourth at districts with 96 points. Helping the Tigers to that finish was junior Kendall McKibbon (20:36) in 11th place, junior Rachel Sherwood (21:30) in 24th, freshman Sophia Redwine (21:37) in 26th, freshman Emily Schmidt (21:49) in 28th, senior Bailey Sherwood (21:55) in 30th and junior Macy Showalter (21:59) in 31st.

On the boys side, Newberg appeared headed toward a second-place team finish before settling for fourth with 81 points – one point out of third place and a spot in the state meet. With about 100 meters remaining in the race, sophomore Johnny Rolfe was poised to potentially take home a seventh-place finish. Rolfe, however, collapsed. He managed to get up fairly quickly, but 10 or more runners passed him before he crossed the finish line. The sophomore had to settle for 19th overall (17:34).

Sinkbeil said at about 200 meters into the race, the back of Rolfe's shoe was stepped on. Rolfe knelt down and had to adjust his shoe. This cost Rolfe time and he was forced to run from behind the rest of the race. Sinkbeil said Rolfe was running so hard to catch runners in front of him that he was at the point of exhaustion until he collapsed.

"He was fighting that the whole way and I think it caught up to him," he said. "It was really unfortunate for him."

After Rolfe crossed the finish line, he was tended to by his grandfather, a physician, Sinkbeil said. Rolfe was nauseous for about 45 minutes after the race. Paramedics were later called as a precaution.

"It was just an exhaustion thing," Sinkbeil said. "He was never out of it, but every time he tried to sit up, he threw up. They finally called the paramedics … but everything turned out to be OK."

Junior Samuel Mock (17:07) led the Tigers with his 13th-place finish. He was followed by the 14th-place finish of senior James Busch (17:13), 15th-place sophomore Asher Tatsumi (17:26), 20th-place sophomore William Stewart (17:34), the 26th place finish of junior Christopher Aquipel (18:02) and the 28th-place finish by senior Hunter Bensman (18:08). Both Tatsumi and Stewart had 30-second personal bests in what Sinkbeil said was the team's best performance of the season.

"I felt bad for those guys because they achieved more than what I thought they could do when the year started," Sinkbeil said of the team. "They really wanted to go to state pretty bad. All but two are back and they're already excited for next year."

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