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The Tigers defied expectations and shined at Pacific Conference district meet last week

A dozen athletes from the Newberg High School track team will compete at state this weekend after a strong showing in Pacific Conference district competition.

Coach Brandon Ramey said the Tigers exceeded their goal of sending plenty of kids to state thanks to a renewed focus at districts.

"I was definitely super proud of the way we competed at districts," he said. "We knew going into it we had chances to get some people in state, but you never know. Overall, I think we somewhat overachieved with 12 people going to state."

With a second-place finish at districts in 50.4 seconds, the 4 x 100 relay team of Rilee Carstensen, Grace Umfleet, Kalani Aquipel and Anna Secrist is headed to state riding a wave of confidence.

In the 4 x 400, Grace Chlumak was traded out for Aquipel and the Tigers qualified for state in that event with a victory in 4:05.97.

Umfleet is also headed to state in the 400 after posting a personal record time at districts (59.65). She is joined on the girls' side by Lala Frketich, who finished second in the javelin at districts with a toss of 114 feet 1 inch.

Carstensen is the only returning state qualifier from last year's team. The other 11 – on the boys' and girls' side – are new to state competition.

"I've been talking all season about how young we are and how we lost a lot of experience from last year," Ramey said. "We've been through the season with a bunch of new experiences and kids experiencing new things for the first time."

For the boys, a group of sprinters has led the way all season. At district competition, they combined to get a 4 x 100 qualification of their own with a victory in 44.1 seconds.

Their previous performances in statewide meets lend themselves to a legitimate shot at placing in the state meet.

The team is comprised of Matthew Larson, Kyle Hatch, Mason Darling and Riley Beecroft.

Darling is competing in the 400 at state as well after finishing second at districts in 51.91 seconds – a personal record.

Beecroft, meanwhile, is the talisman for this Newberg team, competing in the 100 and 200 after finishing second in both events at districts. His 100 time was 11.37 seconds and his 200 was 23.04.

Rounding out the boys' squad traveling to state is Jake Thompson, who finished second in the long jump at districts (20-05) and won the triple jump (43-05.75, PR).

Both jumps landed him in state competition as he wraps up a stellar senior year in both events.

State competition is Friday and Saturday at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham.

Ramey said the change in venue from Hayward Field in Eugene should make for a "different" meet, and he looks forward to sharing the moment with a talented young Newberg squad.

"We'll all kind of be learning together and figuring it out together," he said. "This is a great group of kids. They're all great student-athletes and it'll be fun to finalize the season with that group."

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