GRESHAM — The number four was a good one for the Scappoose Indians at last week's Class 5A track and field championships.
The Scappoose boys' four-man 4x100-meter relay and 4x400 relay teams both finished fourth in the state.
Junior Brisyn Maller placed fourth in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles.
But there were plenty of other impressive numbers for the Indians in the Friday-Saturday Oregon School Activities Association meet at Mt. Hood Community College.
• The highest finish by a Scappoose athlete?
That honor belonged to junior Tess Conway, who sped to second in the girls 800.
She did it with a personal best, too, finishing the two trips around the track in 2 minutes, 20.53 seconds.
"It felt amazing," she said. "It was a great race."
Conway held off third-place Emma Mullins, a senior from The Dalles (2:20.79), and Silverton senior Jori Paradis (2:20.91) with a determined second lap.
Hailey Lewetag, a junior from North Salem, won in 2:18.70.
Conway moved into second place on lap 2, after hanging with the pack early in the race.
Once shot got into second place, "I knew I had to keep it and sprint hard," she said. "I kept up my pace and was able to finish strong. I knew I could make a move on the last straight."
It was an exciting capper to a season that began with Conway penciled in more as a 400 runner (she had made it to state in that event as a sophomore, finishing 10th).
"I enjoy the 400 a lot, but gaining confidence it it really helped me to run a better 800 and to switch to the 800 and run fast there," she said. "I just said to myself, 'Keep it like two 400s."
Going into this year's state meet, her best 800 time was 2:21.18, set in placing second in the Northwest Oregon Conference championships May 17 at Putnam.
• Conway and junior Emma Jones were key performers, as expected, for the Scappoose girls team.
Jones took fifth in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles, and she teamed with Conway, junior Kelsey Ela and senior Sierra Stafford to get on the podium in the 4x100.
That foursome ran 50.89 — a huge season best (Scappoose came to state with a 2019 PR of 42.14).
And, the Ela-Jones-Stafford-Conway crew did it despite a bit of a scary start, with Ela stumbling through her first steps on the leadoff leg in the first of two heats on Saturday.
"I kind of fell out of the blocks and sputtered," she said. "I thought it was over. I felt so bad."
A few minutes later, though, the Indians heard great news — that the times in the second heat weren't great across the board and that their mark had held up for the No. 7 overall finish.
"We had perfect hand offs, the best of the season," Stafford said.
The team came to state hoping for either a medal or the school record, and got the former, just missing the latter (50.61, set in 2016).
• The girls 4x400 team of sophomore Anika Havlik, freshman Sydney Hanke, Conway and Jones took 10th in 4:15.31 — also a huge season PR (4:18.95 had been the unit's previous fastest four legs around the track).
• Maller was a contented trackster after his dual fourth-place hurdles showings.
"I'm really happy," he said.
One reason why — he ran a PR and school-record 39.79 in the 300 hurdle preliminaries on Friday, cracking the 40-second mark for the first time (his previous PR was 40.74).
He came back the next day to run 40.30, after clocking 15.43 in the high hurdles, not far off his PR and school record of 15.15 (set in winning at district) and his 15.39 in the 5A prelims.
And he came through at state, like the others, in spite of very rainy conditions that made things more difficult, even a bit treacherous, in some events.
"That part was not fun, to say the least," he said. "But luckily we had the (MHCC) gym to warm up in and to use as a place to stay a bit dry."
The two prelims and two finals all added up to the kind of consistently good meet Maller had summoned all season.
"I'm really happy with how the year went," he said.
• Two of Scappoose's boys standouts weren't able to qualify for the finals in their individual events — senior Connor McNabb was 13th overall in the 100, and junior Josh Lull was 12th in the 800.
But they bounced back on the final day of the state meet to help the Indians make a big splash in both relays.
First, it was juniors Henry Goldammer (leadoff leg) and Tyler Holcomb (anchor) teaming up with Lull and McNabb for fourth in the 4x100.
Then, in the final event of the meet, freshman Neil Hoffmann, Goldammer, McNabb and Lull, in that order, flashed to a surprising fourth in the 4x400.
It was the perfect way to end the competition — and for McNabb to go out as a highly decorated Indians athlete.
The Scappoose boys 4x400 was seeded ninth, so they improved by five slots with a 3:30.58 that knocked nearly two seconds off the Indians' previous best time of the season.
"We were hoping to place (in the top eight), so to get fourth … we're very happy," Hoffmann said.
Hoffmann led off with a 53.5 split that obliterated his previous best of 54.8, despite the wet conditions.
"The weather didn't bother me. I didn't feel it," he said.
His hand off to Goldammer was "good, though the baton was a little slippery."
Goldammer gave the stick to McNabb, who ran a dynamite third leg that gave Lull the lead in the Indians' heat (the first of two) at the start of the final lap. Lull was able to ward off the competition all the way to finish line.
"Once I got it to him," McNabb said, "I knew they weren't going to be able to catch him."
Lull said he was determined to finish strong.
"Connor's a senior, and we were praying for one more medal for him. He ran a great leg and got me exactly where I needed to be."
McNabb said he, too, wasn't affected by the weather.
"The conditions don't really matter," he said. "If you're a competitor, anything is going to be doable. The chance to compete here at state is a blessing, so I was not going to complain about the weather."
As a group, "we left it on the track," McNabb said. "I couldn't be prouder."
• Four hours earlier, the 4x100 boys team also got its fourth-place medal. That came in 43.80 — at least equally as impressive because it was exactly one second faster than the Indians' previous 2019 best.
The time enabled Scappoose to better its prerace seeding (sixth).
"Pretty awesome," Holcomb said.
• Lull's role in the 4x400 provided the Indians with their biggest bounce-back performance of the state meet.
He'd had a long night Friday after a rough go in the 800 preliminaries.
"After that very disappointing 800, my anger fueled me," he said. "I was really frustrated Friday. I had the perfect opportunity to make the (800) finals, and I just didn't have a good race."
Lull finished in 2:05.32 — after a heroic PR of 2:00.11 at the district meet that was good for second behind Parkrose star junior Ahmed Ibrahim, who was the state runner-up.
"It felt like a runner's block," Lull said of his 5A meet 800. "I couldn't kick with the other kids, and I got boxed in. It all went wrong in that race."
He went home and decided to "recuperate and readjust" for the next day and his responsibilities with teammates.
"I love the relays — they're my favorite part, by far," he said.
McNabb noticed the difference.
"He was really pumped and fresh today. He did a great job," McNabb said.
• Scappoose had one other athlete make it to the podium.
That was junior Conner Havlik in the javelin. He placed fifth, throwing 164 feet, 8 inches, just under his PR of 165-8.
It was particularly noteworthy because the day before the state competition he had pinched a nerve in his back while practicing at Mt. Hood CC.
"I wasn't able to rotate as well," he said.
Havlik said he'll come back next year with 190 feet as a goal.
"It'll take a lot of training and more knowledge," he said.
• Scappoose's one other entry in the state meet nearly got to the podium as well.
Bobby Vanek, a sophomore new to the sport, placed ninth in the shot put. His best state meet throw was 45-9.5, and the No. 8 spot went to Crescent Valley senior Kaimana Wa'a at 47-6.
Vanek had PR'd at district on May 17, uncorking a heave of 46-6.25.
• Scappoose -- in its first state meet as a 5A school, having moved up from 4A -- placed 10th in the boys standings and tied for 14th among girls teams.
The Indian boys scored 24 points. Hood River Valley was next with 18. Dallas was ninth with 35. North Bend won with 72.5, outdistancing runner-up Ashland (65).
The Indian girls tallied 17 points, matching the total of league rivals La Salle Prep and Wilsonville along with Corvallis. Milwaukie was 18th with 16 points, and Putnam, another NWOC school, took 19th with 15 points. St. Helens had 18 points for 13th place in a meet dominated by North Salem (119). Silverton was a solid second with 68 points.
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