Track: St. Paul's Wyss impresses at home meet
With the end of the track and field season in sight, the St. Paul Buckaroos are beginning to round into shape as the team looks to be well represented at the state championship meet in Eugene this month.
At the head of the Bucks' list of state qualifier hopefuls is sophomore Isabelle Wyss, who is looking to make her first trip to the University of Oregon's Hayward Field as an individual after qualifying last season as a part of St. Paul's state runner-up 4x400 relay team.
Wyss made her case in multiple events at last week's Tri-River/PacWest track meet hosted at St. Paul High School on April 26, finishing the day with victories in the 100-meter dash, the 200, long jump and triple jump.
The St. Paul sophomore ranks among the state's best 2A athletes in all four events. She shaved off a tenth of a second from her personal record in the 100, clocking in at 13.24 seconds — the eighth-best time recorded at the 2A level this season — for her fourth straight win in the event this season.
Wyss' victory in the 200 (27.74) was a quarter second off the PR she set the week prior at the Jewell Invitational, but still among the top 10 in the state. But her biggest strides this season have come in the jumping events.
As a freshman, Wyss struggled to consistently put up marks beyond 14-feet in the long jump, but this year, she has eclipsed 15-feet in all but one meet, winning on Thursday with a mark of 15-05.
Her biggest improvements have come in an event she didn't compete in last season. Wyss gave up competition in the high jump this year in favor of the triple jump, and has immediately become a contender for a state title. Wyss won the event on Thursday with a mark of 32-08.5, which actually ranks as her shortest leap this year. She set her personal best in the event on April 10 with a mark of 33-09.5, which remains as the third-best mark in the state this season and less than a foot behind the top mark of 34-08 put up by Tri-River rival Hallie Sprauer of Kennedy.
Although the Bucks did not field a relay team in their home meet, the team is a likely contender to qualify for state in both the 4x100 and the 4x400 this season. Wyss and Rachel Vela were part of last year's second place 4x400 relay team, and are joined this season by Logan Robinson and Taysha Veeman. Together, the quartet have logged the second-best time in the league with a finish of 4:28.09 on April 10. They've been even better in the short relay, where they currently hold the league's best time of 52.90, which is good enough for the third-best time in the state this year.
On the boys side, senior Holden Smith is looking to finally punch his ticket to state in the 1,500 after missing out in each of the previous three seasons. Smith has yet to be beaten this year in the event, winning his sixth straight victory on Thursday with a season-best time of 4:27.1 that currently ranks as the second-best finish in the conference this year. But perhaps more importantly was his win in the 800, where he clocked in at 2:07.50, moving him into a dense cluster of five runners in the league who are all hovering close to the top time of 2:04.74 by East Linn Christian's Jedaiah Wasson.
Thursday's meet also previewed a showdown in the 4x100 relay between the Bucks and the league-favorite Regis Rams. St. Paul's team of Gianni Grasso, Jaden Thompson, Jaidyn Jackson and Justin Herberger claimed a photo finish over the Rams by 0.02 seconds, clocking a time of 46.06 to win the event. It was a season-best time in the event for the Bucks, but just shy of the best time Regis has put up this season (45.93), which currently ranks as the time to beat in the league.
St. Paul will wrap up the regular season this week with a trip to Stayton for the Regis Community Twilight Invitational on Friday. After that, the Bucks travel to Mount Angel for the state qualifying Tri-River Championship, which takes place at Kennedy High School on May 10-11.