Lions in good form
GRESHAM — Rarely does everything go according to plan or form in a track and field meet, let alone a two-day high school state championship event. Sometimes, and in some ways, things go better than expected. Sometimes not.
Such as the case for St. Helens last weekend at Mt. Hood Community College.
But the boys and girls came away with success stories across the board, even with a couple of unexpected twists and turns.
The Lions finished about where they expected to in the team standings. The girls were 13th in Class 5A with 18 points (one ahead of Scappoose). The boys were 17th with 13.5 points.
The boys had entries in six events, and wound up with three podium finishes. Junior Logan Page placed fourth in the 100 meters, then came back even stronger in the 200 to take third. And junior Tanner McTeigue exceeded expectations with a sixth-place finish in the high jump.
In the girls meet, the Lions had entries in three sprint races, both relays and the high jump. And everyone wound up on the podium except in two cases, both due to a hamstring injury that befell sophomore speedster Savannah Moore.
Moore still was able to place fifth in the 200 and help the 4x100 relay team take fourth.
But she just missed qualifying for the finals in the 100 and wasn't able to answer the bell in the 4x400 at the end of the meet (and St. Helens wound up not running, due largely to a communications mix-up with meet officials).
Freshman Hannah Hayduk took third in the 400, and junior Savannah Hoffmann was sixth in the high jump.
• The weather both Friday and Saturday wasn't perfect, to say the least. Rain fell off and on — mostly on — putting a damper especially on the running events, notably the sprints.
"It was not pleasant to deal with," St. Helens coach Megan Cox said.
That part was a disappointment, because the forecast a few days before the meet called for mostly sunny skies and fairly warm temperatures — potential ingredients for fast times on the track.
• Still, Page posted good finals marks of 11.26 and 22.85, Moore went 26.79 in the 200 preliminaries and 26.85 in the final — and Hayduk set a school record in her 400 prelim. She clocked 1 minute, .13 seconds to erase the 1987 St. Helens all-time best of 1:00.54 set by Tracy Merwin.
Hayduk came back on Saturday and took third in 1:00.35, finishing behind on the PR performances of two older runners from Silverton — junior Justice McBride (59.03) and Katie Sinn (59.34).
"Hannah had a great run," Cox said. "She had those more experienced runners going up against her, and being at state is a big deal."
Hayduk admitted she was nervous going into the Oregon School Activities Association championships.
"I was not relaxed at all — it was definitely all panic," she said.
But the competition helped her, in a way.
"It was tough … really fast girls … they really pushed me," she said. "I'm working on starting my kick sooner, and they definitely helped me do that."
Hayduk said she drew some inspiration from the invitationals the Lions had competed in during the regular season.
"Those made this easier for me," she said. "I thought, 'This is just another invitational, with the best in the state.'"
She showed she is continuing to get stronger.
"My confidence is slowly building," she said.
Cox said the things Hayduk was able to do this season — including her role on two Northwest Oregon Conference championship relay teams — wasn't a total surprise.
"It was and it wasn't," Cox said. "I was able to coach her in cross country, so I saw her potential."
• Page ran fifth in the 100 state prelims and fourth in the 200 prelims, then upped his position in both finals.
"I got the job done," he said.
The 100 was a challenge in part because of the weather.
"It didn't help that it was raining. It was hard to warm up and get my muscles loose," he said.
But a change his coach suggested in his starting technique helped make up for that.
"My coach told me not to lean over the line as far as I did in the prelims, because my legs are long and I tend to stumble out of the blocks," he said; "So if I am even with the line, my legs will come out and I will be able to get underneath them easier."
The 200 final was tight between a handful of runners going through the curve. Dallas senior won in 22.31, but Page fought off two North Bend runners who wound up fourth and fifth.
"I was really grinding, pushing it," Page said.
• Moore's weekend was frustrating, given she had been a workhorse and force all spring and was coming off first-place runs in the district meet 100 and 200 to go with the Lions' relay triumphs.
But she said her hamstring began to bother her after that meet, May 16-17 at Putnam.
At state, "all the races were kind of hard," she said after her fifth in the 200 — and while knowing that she wouldn't be able to run soon thereafter in the 4x400.
"She rocked it in the 200," Cox said. "She pushed through some discomfort, but her hamstring tightened up and she could barely move or walk after that."
The Lions wanted to still compete in the 4x400 — with strong hopes of a medal. High jumper Hoffmann was set to take Moore's place as an alternate.
But Cox said meet officials wouldn't allow St. Helens to make the late change in personnel.
"We had already checked in, thinking Savannah Moore could run," Cox said. "Then, after the 200, when we found it she couldn't, we were told we weren't allowed to alter (the lineup). It was kind of a miscommunication. I really felt we should have been able to run."
• Moore, Hayduk, junior Isabelle Wallace and sophomore Kasten Warner comprised the 4x100 relay team that took fourth in 50.54 — well under the Lions' previous season-best 51.39.
"Everything went really well in the 4x1," Cox said.
The Lions nearly caught Ridgeview (50.52) for third place in a race in which North Salem (47.77) and Silverton (49.80) were dominant, as expected.
"Nobody was going to touch North Salem and Silverton," Cox said. "We knew it was probably going to be close between us and Ridgeview."
West Albany was fifth in 5073, followed by La Salle Prep (50.74), Scappoose (50.89) and Thurston (51.17).
"We did amazing," Hayduk said of the 4x100 effort. "We all put 100 percent into it. Our hand offs were great. We did the best we could."
• Hoffmann's medal in the high jump came with a best clearance of 5 feet — not quite what she had hoped.
"I wanted to get to my PR (5-2)," she said. "But it was a struggle. It felt like I didn't have enough power on the way up.
"It could have been better, but I'm happy I was able to be here, show up and experience everything."
Hoffmann has had a busy year, competing in soccer, dance, cheer and choir. And, in track, she typically was St. Helens' leader in not only the high jump but also the long jump and triple jump.
"I like the triple jump and long jump, but I feel the high jump is probably my best event, and I definitely want to be able to improve next year," she said. "I also miss the hurdles — I'd like to go back to them. I like the 300 hurdles. And maybe I'll run the 400. I definitely want to run more on the track."
• Also in the 5A boys meet, junior Waylon Nichols set a PR in the 1,500, finishing in 4:11.92 (he'd run 4:12.17 a month earlier).
But in a talented state field, that mark was good only for 12th place.
"Those guys are just so fast," Cox said. "Waylon finished right where he was seeded."
• Elsewhere in the boys state meet, St. Helens junior Gabe Hughes placed 12th in the discus, throwing 123-8, and junior Jeremy O'Meara competed in the pole vault but wasn't able to get over the opening height of 12-6 (which was three inches above his PR).
"I think Jeremy could have made it, but the weather was lousy," Cox said. "And I think the weather played a factor for Gabe, too. It's hard when you're trying to grip a wet discus. Still, I was happy he got to experience a state meet."
• McTeigue earned his sixth-place medal in the boys high jump by improving his PR from 5-10 to 6-0.
He'd placed sixth in the district meet, too, only making 5-8 at Putnam.
"I was pretty upset after district," he said.
Turned out, that was good enough to get into the state meet as a wild-card, though, and McTeigue was able to refocus his mind-set.
"I got pretty lucky with the wild-card spot," he said. "I wanted to make the most of it. The high jump is my favorite event and the one I've put most of my effort into.
"Being at state was an experience, for sure, and a lot of fun."