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A third-place finish at district leaves the Pioneers tied at the top with Clackamas

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Isabella Kansala was the pace-setter in the early stages of the 1,500 before coming in second and qualyfing for state.

District meet

Team (top 3) Score
1. Clackamas Cavaliers
2. Centennial Eagles
3. Sandy Pioneers

Sandy senior Marley Salveter was motivated when she stepped into the starting blocks for the 200-meter dash Wednesday night at the Mount Hood Conference district track and field championships.

A missed hand-off in the 400-meter relay to start the day meant that her dash for the finish line did not count, as the Pioneers suffered a disqualification in that race.

Also earlier in the day, she found herself in a power matchup in the 100-meter final that paired defending state sprint champs in Salveter (5A) and Gresham's Fechi Nmereole (6A).

With Sandy's move to big-school status this year, both were racing for the same spot at the top of the podium.

Nmereole got off to her trademark quick start and had a stride on the rest of the field the whole way. Salveter used a surge over the last 30 meters to catch Centennial's Madison McHone with a lean at the finish line for second place and a spot into this weekend's state meet.

"The short relay was just unlucky, then the 100, I was not going to let this one slip past me," Salveter said. "I really, really, really wanted to win. That's what it came down to."

Getting that win would prove difficult, as Nmereole once again exploded out of the blocks and had a full stride on Salveter while moving into the home stretch in front of the grandstands. But the Sandy senior switched into another gear and surged through the final 50 meters, nipping her rival at the finish line by 0.01 hundredths to win in 25.72 seconds.

"I spent all of last week working on my drive phase for that last 50 — I know that's where I'm going to catch people," Salveter said.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Adilynn Brotnov heads down the homestretch for third place in the 300-meter hurdles.

The Pioneers rung up a series of second-place finishes, none more dramatic than Isabella Kansala's ability to chase down Barlow's Macy McKenney for the last spot to state in the 800-meter final.

McKenney was the pace-setter most of the way and carried a sizable lead into the final turn only to have Central Catholic's Amara Christensen overtake her 50 yards from the finish line. Kansala was next in line, moving into second place in her last couple strides.

"I was about to settle for third, but she slowed down a lot on the home stretch," Kansala said. "The first lap felt a little slow, and I had a lot left at the 200, so I just went for it."

Kansala also came in second in the 1,500.

Keeley Rasmussen also came up with a pair of runner-up finishes in the throws, coming closest to a win in the discus where her fifth attempt came down little more than a foot short of Centennial's Angel Aluesi.

Sandy teammate Alyssa McNutt finished third and Hannah Gillies was fifth.

Rasmussen was second in the shot put, while Gillies turned in another fifth-place effort. The Pioneers totaled 30 team points across those two events.

Sandy's Camille Walker finished second in the long jump, while Adilynn Brotnov took third in the 300 hurdles.

Sandy's missed exchange in the 400 relay cost the team 10 potential points, leaving them in third place two points short of Centennial at the end of the day. That allowed district meet champion Clackamas to pull even in the season standings to earn a share of the overall league title with Sandy.

The Pioneers quartet of Brotnov, Kansala, Salveter and Jordan McLeod ended the meet with a runner-up finish in the 1,600 relay.

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This story is slated for our May 22, print edition.

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