PREPS: Mong makes quick work of state finals
EUGENE — For a lot of Portland fans, it was the 2017 Class 6A boys track and field championships, starring Henry Mong of Franklin High. Co-starring Sawyer Christopher of Lincoln. Featuring a cast of record-setting Central Catholic Rams. And a bigger band of Jesuit Crusaders, whose team finished second to Oregon City. With special guest appearances by selected others.
Mong stepped into the spotlight at Hayward Field, sweeping his solo events Saturday in convincing fashion.
The senior, whose next school stop is the University of San Francisco, took the winner's stand after the 1,500 meters. Then he climbed up there again, about an hour and half later, after the 800.
In each race, he waited for the right time to make his late charge, then blew past the front-runners.
Mong's winning times: 3 minutes, 50.52 seconds and 1:52.78.
He said the relatively slow pace of the 1,500 was "perfect" for him, as he was able to hang behind Wilson senior Caleb Seely and Jesuit junior Joshua Schumacher before making a blistering surge over the final 150 meters.
"When I decided to make my move, I let 'em have it," Mong said.
A year earlier, Mong seemed on his way to a high finish when he was tripped in the 1,500.
Winning on the same track 12 months later was "the best feeling in the world," he said.
In the 800, Sheldon's Jenner Higgins tried to run Mong into the ground with a fast pace, ostensibly to break the Irish school record of 1:51.63 while hopefully finding Mong leg-weary after the 1,500.
Mong overtook Higgins through the final turn of the 800, though, and the hometown senior had to settle for third in 1:54.09.
"I was less sure (about coming from behind to win) in the 800 than in the 1,500," Mong said, "but I wanted to be patient, and 800s are won in the last 100. I just trusted my legs and my training to get it done.
"It's an incredible feeling to win both races."
Veteran Franklin coach Jim Hennessey noted that it wasn't the first time Mong has displayed such "amazing opening-up speed," even though the Quakers staff once thought Mong would be best in the more-plodding 3,000.
"His speed has developed from running relays and just over the years," Hennessey said.
• Franklin has had a double winner at state before. In 1929 and 1930, Charlie Fyock won the 100- and 200-yard dashes.
• Christopher, a junior, outdueled a solid field in his top throwing event and won with a mark 189-11.
Lincoln throws coach Laval Short said Christopher is fast becoming a student of the javelin and has a temperament that serves him well, too.
"When he has a bad throw, he knows what he's doing," Short said, "and in competition, it's like he has ice water in his veins."
• The Portland Interscholastic League had two boys place second in the state meet.
Cleveland junior Roth Morgan was 5 feet, 1 inch behind Christopher in the javelin (PR 184-10), and Grant junior Philip Quinton was second in the 800 in 1:53.52, a PR by more than three seconds.
• All in all, it wasn't the best or worst of PIL performances, top to bottom.
Eight of the nine schools scored (Roosevelt coming up empty), but Franklin, which finished ninth, was the only PIL team in the top 14, and the league totaled just 84 points, 13 less than in 2016 and far behind every other 6A league except for the Great Valley Conference, whose nine schools totaled 69 points this year.
• Central Catholic's victory in the final event, the 4x400 relay, pushed the Rams into fourth place with 37 points, ahead of Sheldon (34), Newberg (30), and Tigard and West Salem (28). Franklin was next with 24.
The fourth-place finish was the best in boys history for the Rams. They were fifth in 2013 and 2006, but had scored just six points last year.
Austin Hill, Parker Mann, Korbin Williams and William Mundy ran, in that order, in the long relay. Mann and teammate Vicenzo Logan were second and fourth, respectively, in the triple jump, with Mann popping a PR (46-4) by nearly three feet.
Another CC senior, Michael McCausland, had PRs in the 1,500 and 3,000 to place fifth and sixth.
Freshman javelin sensation Joseph Nizich was third at 183-2.
Logan, Alex Soo, Williams and Mundy took eighth in the 4x100 relay.