Kis, Saina triumph for the Timberwolves
EUGENE — The imposing figures stood side by side.
Each had his index finger in the air, each with a medal hanging around his neck.
Nano Kis, a Tualatin High School junior, and Gerald Saina, a Timberwolf senior, each also had a big smile on their face — a championship smile.
Kis and Saina powered their way to state-title performances at the Class 6A state track and field championships, held Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field.
"It means a lot, knowing that I worked hard and that I made it to the top," said Saina, who won a state title in the shot put event. "It feels good."
"It means a lot, because I put a lot of work in during the offseason, and it's nice to see it finally pay off," said Kis, who triumphed in the discus event.
There were plenty of Tualatin highlights at the state championships, with many Timberwolves earning spots on the award stand. But, for the Tualatin, the biggest highlights came from the throwing crew.
"We have a lot great throwers at Tualatin, and we've built a great community," said Timberwolf senior Alyssa Workman, who placed in both the girls shot put and discus events. "We're able to feed off each other and push each other. Help each other out with drills and throws and supporting each other. It's really helped me a lot."
Saina got things going for Tualatin, capturing the gold in Friday's boys shot put event with a winning throw of 54 feet, 0.75 inches.
Not bad for someone who originally didn't even plan on turning out for track and field this year.
"It was a goal, since my coach came in the weight room and talked to me about track," Saina said. "I didn't want to do track at first, but coach talked to me, and made me want to do track, so that became my goal. I almost didn't do track, but, now, I'm really glad I did."
Saina opened the state competition with a throw of 53-6.5, which turned out to be a key to his victory.
"I was a little nervous coming into it, but hitting a 53 on my first one gave me a lot of confidence," he said.
He got what turned out to be his winning throw on his next attempt.
"I never thought that I'd get first," said Saina, who plans on competing for both the football and track and field teams at Western Oregon University next school year. "I thought I'd come to state, and maybe get in the top eight, but getting first, knowing all my hard work paid off, feels good. Track was way more fun that I thought it would. I got to be with all my friends and coaches, and we all became really close."
Later that day in the boys discus competition, for the longest time, it looked like Kis wouldn't be joining his Tualatin teammate as a state champion.
After the preliminaries, Kis was in seventh place with a mark of 141-5. He then dropped to eighth place after the first round of the finals. But things changed in second round of finals, when Kis unleashed a throw of 164-8, which moved him all the way up to first place.
"It was just trusting myself and believing what I could do," Kis said of what turned out to be the winning throw. "Once it left my hand, I knew it was good."
Still, the championship didn't belong to Kis yet, as, following his last throw in the finals, he had to watch six other competitors make their final attempt.
"The waiting was scary, watching all the people throwing after me, because I knew a lot of them could throw farther than that mark," Kis said.
But, as it turned out, there was no reason to be scared, as no one bettered his throw, leading to a big celebration for Kis, which included many friends, family, coaches and teammates — including Saina.
"Gerald set a good precedent, not only for me, but for the whole team," said Kis, who will be throwing in a national competition in Argentina later this week.
Another Tualatin thrower, junior Jalen Hale, took fifth place in the javelin event with a personal-best throw of 178-8.
"Coming into this year, I was really excited, because my first throw was above 170, which was a good mark, and I kept getting better," Hale said. "And now, to throw a big mark at state feels really good."
Hale had his fifth-place throw in his first attempt of the competition.
"It's usually my first throw each meet, I don't know why," he said. "Getting fifth place feels great. I was coming in sixth, so getting fifth is definitely a plus."
Also for the Tualatin boys, junior Kwabena Lynn sprinted to fifth place in the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.87 seconds, and he was eighth in the 200 with a mark of 22.48. In the 4 x 100 relay, Lynn teamed with Luke Marion, Kainoa Sayer and Dominique Loggins to finish fifth in a time of 42.64.
Tualatin sophomore Andrew Payton took sixth place in the 1,500 in 3:59.83. Junior Nick Sarka was ninth in the discus with a throw of 140-8.
The Tualatin boys finished in fifth place in the team standings with 36 points, putting the Wolves just one point behind fourth-place Jesuit.
For the Tualatin girls, Workman finished eighth in the shot put with a mark of 39-2.5. In the discus, she placed fourth with a personal-best throw of 135-6. She got her top throw in her final attempt of the competition.
"My last throw in the discus was the best in my career so far, so you can't ask for much more than that," Workman said. "I knew I had it in, me I had to be able to just let it go. I put everything I had into it."
Also for the Timberwolves, the 4 x 400 relay team of Keara Bingham, Rachel Krill, Gennavieve Marion and Makenna Bailey took sixth place with a time of 4:03.14. Sophomore Kaitlyn Gearin was 10th in the 3,000 in 10:30.14. Sophomore Hannah Olson was 14th in that race in 10:42.56. Senior Sierra Jones was 11th in the triple jump with a mark of 34-10.75 and freshman Ellie Hammond cleared 5-0 to take 12th in the high jump.
The Tualatin girls finished in a tie for 23rd place in the team standings with nine points.
The West Salem boys and Jesuit girls won the Class 6A state team titles.