Tualatin boys win big at district
OREGON CITY — There may be no other way to put it — the Timberwolves dominated.
The Tualatin High School boys track and field squad, which has stepped up at big meets all season, did so again at the Three Rivers League district championships, scoring a near record number of team points on its way to running way with the district crown.
And, coming off their impressive performance at district, the Wolves look to have plenty of momentum on their side going into this week's Class 6A state championships.
"We're crushing it," said Tualatin junior Luke Marion, who won a district title in the 110-meter high hurdles event. "If we can get a state title as a team, that would be really awesome."
"This means a lot to me and my teammates," said Tualatin junior Andrew Payton, who triumphed in both the 800 and 1,500 at district. "At the start of the season, I was telling other people that didn't know, that this was the year. All of the coaches knew it, and I knew it. It's just a matter of spreading the word and getting everyone to believe it. Obviously, everyone stepped in and believed it. Next week, at state, people will be gunning for us. We'll need to stay strong and repeat what we did here."
The Tualatin boys won the district title with a score of 187 points. Oregon City was a distant second at 127.5. The Wolves' 187 points is the most for a boys team at the TRL district meet since West Linn scored 193 back in 1995.
"It's been hard work," said Tualatin senior Kwabena Lynn, who sprinted to victory in both the 100 and 200. "We've put the work in every day in practice since February. We've got a good team attitude. We come into every meet hoping to win."
The Wolves' next chance to win will come at the Class 6A state championships. The top two finishers in each event at the district meet, as well as those competitors, or relay teams that better state qualifying standards, or earn wild-card bids, advance to compete at the Class 6A state meet, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham.
Payton, Lynn and Tualatin senior Nano Kis will go to state having each won a pair of individual titles at the district meet. Kis, the defending Class 6A state champion in the discus, triumphed in that event at the district meet with a personal best, and meet-record, throw of 179 feet, 7 inches.
"I had a couple weeks where I didn't perform well. So I worked hard in practice to improve," Kis said. "I knew it was good, because everything that I had been working on clicked. That felt really good. I stepped up, and I knew it was really good."
In the shot put, Kis won with a mark of 53-10.
"It means a lot, especially in the shot put, because last year I didn't focus on the shot put," Kis said. "This year, I learned I could do well in the shot put."
Kis now heads to the state meet with his sights set on two titles.
"Defending my (discus) title definitely is a goal, but I'm mainly focusing on the shot put," he said. "Winning both is something I've been looking forward to all season."
In the shot put, Kis' main competition could come from Sherwood sophomores Bryan Cuthbertson and Noah Culbertson.
"That's going to be fun, especially since I know both of them," Kis said. "I want to do at least 56, maybe 57. And a state title — that's the goal."
Lynn won a district title in the 100 in a time of 10.71, edging teammate Dominque Loggins, who was second at 10.86, and he had a winning mark of 22.01 in the 200.
"There was good competition," Lynn said. "It's nice to run against one of the fastest guys in the state in my teammate, Dominique. Every day at practice, we just make each other better."
Loggins, a senior, Lynn and Marion also teamed with junior Andrew McDade to win the 4 x 100 relay in a school-record time of 41.92.
"It was awesome," Marion said. "This whole week, we've been talking about getting our handoffs down. We just came together as a unit today. We knew we were capable of it. Our chemistry was really there, and we walk around with a certain confidence."
"It was a lot of work. We've been working on our handoffs every day in practice, and it came together and we got the school record. It's pretty important to get that record," Lynn said. "Hopefully, we can win state. Yeah, that's a goal. We have to do more of the same. Be consistent with our handoffs and work hard in practice."
Payton won a district title in the 800 in 1:55.84 and he had a winning time of 3:59.80 in the 1,500.
"It felt really relieving coming off a bit of a sickness, that's obviously gone now," Payton said. "But I had some tough races a few weeks ago, so it's just awesome to come back here and do this. It was a goal of mine to sweep the middle distance events. And, coming with my teammate, Ethan Klein, in the 1,500 (he finished second in 4:05.33) is good. To have him pushing me definitely helped."
Payton is now taking some high hopes to the state meet.
"I'd be definitely pleased with a top-three finish in the 1,500," he said. "I think I actually might have a better chance to with the 800. I'll go all out in those. To finish in the top three in both of those would be awesome."
Marion overcame some tough competition to win the 110 high hurdles in 14.72. Tualatin senior Jalen Hale was second at 14.82 and Tigard's Jaaron Kletzel was third in 14.89.
"When you have dudes right there at your side, you're all pushing each other," Marion said. "You all get PRs, and it's an awesome experience. I've been working hard all this year, and to come into this week, after hurting my leg a little bit, and finishing first, this means the world to me."
In addition to the 110 high hurdles, Hale also earned a berth to state in the triple jump, where he placed third with a personal-best distance of 44-7.
Senior Nick Sarka earned a state bid with his third-place throw of 49-3.75 in the shot put. McDade advanced to state in the 400 with his fourth-place mark of 50.40.
The Wolves' 4 x 400 relay team of senior Derek Leneve, McDade, Lynn and Payton ran to second place in a time of 3:22.11.
"This is awesome," Marion said of the district meet. "For me, this is one of the best meets I've been to. We're having fun, and everyone is stepping up. Our whole team, if you're not in a certain event, you go support your teammates. That just builds confidence."
On Friday at the Class 6A state meet, the first field event is set to start at noon, and the first running event begins at 2:15 p.m. On Saturday, the first field event starts at 11 a.m., and the first running event begins at 1:30 p.m.