Track: Lopez, Sprauer lead Kennedy girls to fourth-place finish at state meet
The Kennedy girls track and field team is nothing if not consistent.
Led by juniors Alejandra Lopez and Hallie Sprauer, the Trojans placed fourth with 49 points at the 2018 2A Track and Field State Championships on Friday at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, marking the eighth consecutive year in which the team has placed in the top 10 of the final standings.
Lopez and Sprauer accounted for more than half of the team's score. Lopez took home a pair of second-place finishes in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter events, while Sprauer placed second in the high jump, third in the triple jump, eighth in the long jump and was a member of the team's fifth-place 4x100 relay team.
In total, every member of the Kennedy High School girls team scored by placing in the top eight, giving the Trojans their fourth top-four finish in the past six seasons. Monroe led all teams with 80 points to claim the 2018 team title.
For Lopez, it was uncharted territory after qualifying for the state meet in both of her signature distance events. The Kennedy junior has competed in nearly every significant race in cross country and track with senior teammate Kaylin Cantu, who was unable to compete this season while recovering from an injury sustained earlier in the year.
"I've always ran with her," Lopez said. "It was really hard not to this year. I was hoping she'd be running at districts and state, but it didn't happen."
Without her longtime running partner, it was up to Lopez to keep pace with state favorite Sailor Hutton of Bandon, who claimed victory in both events for the fourth consecutive year.
In Thursday's 3,000, both athletes quickly took the lead in the field, with Lopez holding an edge over Hutton for the first two and a half laps.
"She usually starts out slow and speeds up," Lopez said. "I was trying to stay with her for as long as possible, but I also had my own time I was trying to get per lap."
Sutton overtook Lopez on the third lap and continued to put distance between the two, but Lopez would not go away and kept within 100 meters throughout the race. On the final lap, the Kennedy junior broke into a near-sprint over the final 200 meters that significantly closed the gap between the two, crossing the finish line in a personal-best time of 10:32.01 that ranks second all-time in school history, behind Deanna Schiedler.
"I really wanted to get under 10:30," Lopez said. "I felt like I was close enough to her that I could almost be right behind her, so I saw her and just started sprinting. I don't know what came over me."
The next day, it was once again Lopez and Hutton in the top two of the 1,500, with Lopez setting a PR-time of 4:51.88 to place second in the event, which also ranks second in the school record books behind Schiedler.
In the field events, Sprauer looked to be on her way to a state title in the high jump after clearing the first six heights without a miss. When the bar was raised to 5-03, it was down to Sprauer and Grant Union's Kaylee Wright, who took the lead in the event by clearing it on her first attempt while Sprauer suffered her first miss of the day.
Sprauer cleared it on her second attempt, setting a new personal best, but both athletes missed all three attempts at 5-04, giving Wright the state title.
Sprauer also upped her PR in the long jump with a mark of 15-07.75 to place eighth in the event.
In the triple jump, she was unable to match her previous distance in the event after upping her school record to 35-03 at the state qualifier the week before. But the Kennedy junior's mark of 33-10.5 at the state meet still ranked among the state's best, netting her a third-place finish.
Sprauer's final points came as the anchor leg of the Trojans' short relay team, where she was joined by Hailey Arritola, Emma Beyer and Clarissa Traeger for a fifth-place finish in 52.35.
Elsewhere in the field, senior Abby Frey wrapped up her high school track career with a fifth-place finish in the javelin, uppering her PR to 109-07 on her second throw of the day. It was the third consecutive podium finish in the event for Frey.
Also in the throwing events, junior Makayla Massey added a podium finish in her first trip to the state championships, finishing eighth in the shot put with a mark of 33-05.75.
Fellow junior Lilly English was also making her state debut, placing fifth in the discus with a PR of 105-11.
Junior Lily Flud added another top-eight finish in the field, placing sixth overall in the pole vault after clearing 8-00.25.
Junior Caitlyn Perez rounded out the girls team with a seventh-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles in 53.14.
The Kennedy boys track team placed all five members it brought to the state meet, earning three individual medals and one team medal in the 4x400 relay to place 18th overall with 11 points.
The relay team of Jannick Schneider, Luke Hall, Nick Riedman and Micah Parker enjoyed the top finish over the two-day championship, placing fourth overall in 3:40.06.
Parker's anchor leg time of 52.90, which outpaced any of his individual times in the 400 this season, moved Kennedy from seventh to fourth.
Hall and Schneider also took home individual medals in the mid-distance events. Schneider set a new PR in the preliminary race of the 400-meter dash in 53.47 and went on to place sixth in the finals in 54.09.
Hall added an eighth-place finish in the 800 in 2:09.95.
In the field events, junior Nick Suing added a seventh-place finish in the shot put with a PR-throw of 43-02.75.