Banks continues its dominance at the annual Cowapa League track meet

The hearts of lions, these kids have.

At the Cowapa League district meet last Thursday and Friday, the members of the Banks track and field teams — at least some of them — were sick or injured.

And yet, the adversity did not stop the Braves, who performed brilliantly to qualify seven girls and 12 boys, including the short relay team, for this week’s Class 4A state meet, which runs Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene.

To boot, the girls team picked up its fifth district title in six years, with seniors Amy Hilger and Lauren Birr sealing the win by outperforming the form charts in the triple jump. Banks scored 151 1/3 points to best runner-up Seaside by nine points. The Braves boys, who don’t have quite as much depth as their female counterparts, still finished a strong third with 129 points behind Scappoose (167) and Seaside (142).

“I thought our kids stepped up,” Banks coach Rob Frank said. “We placed kids where we needed to. We placed kids higher than we thought we would in areas.”

The way Frank figured it heading into the second day of the meet, staged at Yamill-Carlton High School in Yamhill, Seaside’s girls charted out to top Banks by six points. But across the entire two-day meet, the Braves picked up points in every event, and at least two Braves girls scored in 10 of the 17 events, helping Banks upset the form charts.

And then there were those kids who gave their all, even though they were not feeling their best. Both Annie Victor and Lucas Hidalgo were ill before and during the meet, Frank said, but Victor managed to win the discus (118 feet, 3 inches) and shot put (33-9¾) to advance to her fourth state meet. Hidalgo repeated as pole vault champion, matching his personal best with a 14-0 clearance, and added a fourth in the long jump (19-8¼).

Maddison King did not battle illness during the competition, but she did battle injury. A state finalist in the 100 last year, the sophomore has been dealing with a knee injury, Frank said, in which the muscles and ligaments on the outside of one of her kneecaps pull on the knee, resulting in pain and swelling. King will have surgery shortly, but she still managed to finish second in the 100 meters (13.11 seconds) to qualify for state and fourth in the 200 (27.15).

“It’s hard to describe her competitive spirit and how much pain she dealt with throughout the season to try to continue to compete,” Frank said. “What she did at districts was, considering, was phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve had an athlete who’s … had to deal with that much adversity and still do as much as she did.”

King met with a physical therapist on Monday and will make the trip to state with the team, Frank said, but will not compete.

Other state qualifiers were Morgan Nelson (second, 400, 1:02.95), Kindel Bailey — who set yet another school record in the javelin with her first-place throw of 145-3 — Amy Hilger (first, high jump, 5-4), Ariel Slifka (second, high jump, 4-8), and Lauren Birr (third, triple jump, 31-10). Bailey also scored in the shot put, as did Hilger in the long jump, Slifka in both hurdles races and Birr in the high jump.

Slifka also gave Banks one of its most exciting moments at the meet, while good friends Hilger and Birr provided one of its most heartwarming.

A sophomore, Slifka needed a jump-off to best Scappoose’s Jessie Powell for the second and final high jump state berth. During the jump-off both girls either cleared the bar or missed it on the same attempt four times — keeping the jump-off going — until Slifka slipped over 4-10 and Powell missed that try.

“It’s kind of like the fifth overtime at a football game,” Frank quipped.

As for that triple jump, Hilger and Birr both went 31-10 behind Seaside’s Danielle Willyard, but Hilger claimed second place on the tiebreak with a better second-longest jump. That meant that Birr just missed out on being a four-time state qualifier.

Except Hilger, who leads the state in the high jump this season, and Frank consulted afterward, with Hilger deciding she wanted to focus solely on her specialty. So she gave her triple jump spot to Birr, which led to “quite an emotional scene” between the girls, Frank said.

“It would make a good movie,” he said.

As for the best performance by a Banks athlete at the meet, Frank gave that to Devin King. He placed second in both the 400 (50.10) and as a member of the short relay, along with Nolan Hill, Stephan Huang and Aaron Streblow (44.88).

In that relay, King had to make up some ground on the anchor leg after another team’s baton on the second exchange rolled under Hill’s feet and slowed him a bit. Banks just edged Seaside (44.96) at the finish line.

King also ran third in the 200 in a PR of 23.28, and he teamed with Dallin Shurts, Nick Boguski and Streblow for third in the 4x400 (3:33.69).

As for Shurts, he won the discus (162-5) by 14 feet, while Huang, an exchange student from China, won the triple jump (40-0). Emmy Carrazales and Keenan Marston went 1-2 in the high jump with 5-8 clearances. Other state qualifiers were Jake Sandhagen (second, shot put, 42-9¼) and Garrett Markham (second, javelin, 169-7).

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