Tigard boys eye track and field gold
TIGARD — It could be a good year for the Tigard High School boys track and field team.
Well, maybe the best.
The Tigers, looking to have plenty of depth and talent, are taking extremely high hopes into the season.
"This group of boys has a chance to win the whole thing," Tigard coach Shane Kessler said. "We're very excited about this group. We've got a spread of talent that might get us in the mix."
The Tigard boys do have a strong group of returnees from last year's squad that finished second, behind only Newberg, in the team standings at last year's Three Rivers League district championships.
Among those returnees is senior Braden Lenzy, who is a two-time Class 6A defending state champion in the 400-meter dash. The Tigers are looking for Lenzy to have big senior season in the 200, the 400 and in the relays.
"He'll do his thing," Kessler said.
Also in the 400, Tigard returns senior Skylar Holloway. Last year, Holloway was having a strong season before suffering an injury in the 400 finals at the TRL district meet. Senior Cole Green, who was second to Lenzy in the 400 at last year's TRL district meet, also will be back.
Sophomore Hunter Gilbert also returns. He could contribute in a number of events this season, including the pole vault, 400, 800, the relays and hurdles. He was fourth in the 800 and seventh in the pole vault at last year's district meet.
"He's really talented," Kessler said.
In addition to all the returnees, Tigard also has another top competitor in senior Antonio Angel, who is a transfer from Jesuit. Last year, Angel was the runner-up in the 300 intermediate hurdles event at last year's Class 6A state championships. He'll run in the hurdles and relays for the Tigers.
Senior Burke Albaugh, Hayden McDonald and Brayden Zolkoske will help lead the way in the shot put and discus. In the javelin, Tigard returns senior Peyton Kueffel, who was third in that event at district last year.
Caleb Wachsmuth will be a challenger in the Tigard group of 400 runners. Josh Burns will run in the 100 and 200.
Senior Chase Pettibone and junior Cole Grieb return in the 1,500 and 3,000. Elliott Yake, Oscar Nieves Lira and freshman Lincoln Woodhouse give the Tigers plenty of depth in those races. Gustavo Sanchez will run in the 800 and 1,500.
Junior Luke Ness will compete in the high jump and hurdles. Junior Eric Sawin will high jump and long jump. Matthew Otness will long jump and run the 100. Freshman Spencer Kuffell will do the jumps and hurdles. Jaaron Kletzel will also compete in the hurdles.
The Tigard girls team also appears strong going into the 2018 season.
"We're looking pretty good," Kessler said. "We've got quite a few multi-sport athletes out."
Among the returnees from last year's Tigard girls team, which took third place in the team standings at the TRL district meet, is senior Lauren Paven. Last year, Paven ran to second place in the 400 at the Class 6A state meet. She'll be running the 100 through the 400 this year.
"She's one of the better ones," Kessler said.
Sophomore Peyton Green also returns in the 400. She was fifth in that event at district last year.
Tigard has another key returning senior in Lauren McFall, who looks to be among the best in the javelin in the TRL. Freshman Zoe Floyd will compete in the sprints.
Sophomores Audrey Wells, Delaney Leavitt and Taylor Alderman are back in the 800. Senior returnee Gabby McGaughey will be leading the way for the Tigers in the hurdles. She was fourth in the 300 low hurdles at last year's district meet. Alex Bledsoe and Avery Croxton will also compete in the hurdles.
Sophomore Gabby Brown, a soccer star at Tigard, is out for track for the first time.
"We don't know what she'll do yet," Kessler said. "Maybe the 200 and 400."
Gabryelle Ziglinski, a transfer from Century, will also run the 200 and 400. Sophomores Elizabeth Brands and Sophie Brands return in the distance events.
Tigard has Gabrielle Dormier, Carole Ramos and Hainite Kinikini in the shot put and discus. Junior Jess Liles is back in the high jump. Junior Mallory Harbison is back in the long jump and triple jump. Junior Meqkylih Smith is back in the sprints.
"We're pretty talented," Kessler said of the Tigard girls team.
As for the Three Rivers League this year," Kessler sees plenty of competition ahead for the Tigers.
"Newberg is always tough," he said. "They're looking really good. Tualatin is always in the mix and Sherwood has the best throwers."
Tigard was scheduled to open its league schedule on Wednesday, hosting Tualatin and Canby in a TRL double dual meet. Results of that meet weren't available when the Times went to press. The Tigers will be back in league action on Wednesday, when they face Lake Oswego and Sherwood in a league double dual meet to be held at Sherwood High School.