Track: St. Paul relay teams pace Buckaroos at district qualifier
The St. Paul track and field team had its share of memorable performances and not-so memorable narrow defeats on Thursday and Friday at the Tri-River Conference Track and Field Championships at Kennedy High School in Mount Angel.
Led by the team's short- and long-distance relay teams, the Buckaroos will send a generous contingent of 17 athletes to the 2A State Track and Field Championships in Eugene this week.
The Bucks came home with five districts titles — four by the girls, which placed fourth overall at the event with 96.5 points. The boys placed third overall with 91 points, just barely beating out Central Linn by a half point in the team standings.
Half of the girls' district titles came in the relay events, where the Bucks swept both events and head down to Eugene as state champion hopefuls.
Taysha Veeman, Isabelle Wyss, Rachel Vela and Logan Robinson combined to give the Bucks a win in the 4x100-meter relay, setting a new season-best time of 51.17 that has the team seeded second in the state finals.
All four athletes combined again to win the 4x400, shaving nearly eight seconds off their season-best time to win in 4:20.99, which also has the team ranked second among state entries.
Individually, Vela will compete in two more running events after winning the 400m run in 1:02.93 and finishing second in the 100m dash in 13.36.
Wyss had a stellar day individually as well, adding almost a foot and a half to her PR in the triple jump by beating out district favorite Hallie Sprauer of Kennedy to take the event with a jump of 36-03. Wyss and Spruaer (35-03) enter the state championship as the top two entries in the field in the event.
Wyss had a similarly strong showing in the 200m, setting a personal-best time of 27.02, but was beat out by Central Linn's Gracie Robb in a photo finish by 0.02 seconds and finished third overall to just miss out on qualifying.
Senior Logan Robinson rounded out the girls' state entries, placing second in the long jump with a mark of 4-11.
Much like the girls, the St. Paul boys teams will send both its relay teams to the state after finishing runner-up in both events.
Gianni Grasso, Jaden Thompson, Jaidyn Jackson and Justin Herberger combined for an exciting three-way finish in the 4x100, finishing second in 45.69. The Bucks were a half step behind the district winning team from Regis (45.52), but managed to narrowly edge out the a win over Central Linn (45.85) to take the final qualifying position.
In the long relay, Grasso, Thompson and Jackson joined Holden Smith to take second in 3:40.54. Both times were season-bests for the boys relay teams and are among the top four among state qualifiers.
Smith qualified individually as well, setting a new PR of 4:21.38 in the 1500 to place second in the event, while narrowly falling short in the 800 after placing third in the 2:08.09.
The boys' lone district title came from sophomore Alex Dela Cerda, who had a career day in the throwing events, but had to for qualifying in just one of three events.
Dela Cerda entered the district qualifiers looking to return to state in the javelin after placing 11th in the event at Eugene last year. He did so in emphatic fashion, uncorking a monstrous throw of 170-09 on his fourth attempt to blast his old PR out of the water by more than 28 feet and win the district title.
Dela Cerda's throw is the best mark in the 2A Classification this season and would have been good enough to win the state title in last year's competition.
Unfortunately, Dela Cerda fell just short in the other two throwing events despite valiant efforts in each. The sophomore added another big PR at the shot put pit, eclipsing his previous best by nearly two feet with a throw of 42-07.5, but fell just three inches shy of the top two places to settle for third.
Dela Cerda added another third-place finish in the discus with a mark of 119-09.5.
The 2018 2A Track and Field State Championships will be held at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field in Eugene on Thursday and Friday.