Cascade Christian's Amber Cave (left) takes the baton from teammate Zoey Boisen during the Class 3A state 4x100 relay final Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene. The Challengers won. [ANDY ATKINSON/FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE].

Challenger girls claim first title

EUGENE — If you’re going to make a splash at the track and field state championships, there’s nothing like setting a record at the outset.

That’s what the Cascade Christian girls did on the final day of the Class 3A meet Friday at Hayward Field, stunning themselves with a record in the first running event, the 4x100-meter relay.

That flawless race set the stage for an even nicer ending: The Challengers captured their first state championship, riding a strong showing in the final event, the 4x400 relay.

Coach Gary Bennett, who guided Cascade Christian to second place last year behind rival St. Mary’s, evaluated his team’s performance. He hailed junior Amber Cave’s burst in the prelims Thursday — “She ran faster than I’ve ever seen her run,” he said — and pointed to that short relay some five hours earlier.

“I think that was the moment we won this thing,” he said.

Cascade Christian scored 64 points to outdistance Blanchet Catholic. The Challengers trailed Blanchet by two entering the long relay but made up the distance as sophomore Emily Stephens ran down a couple foes.

St. Mary’s came on strong in the last half of the meet on the strength of Emma Bennion’s legs. The Crusaders scored 50 points to place fourth.

In the boys meet, Cascade Christian, with Zach Booker nabbing second in the triple jump, scored 33 points and tied for sixth place. St. Mary’s tied for 18th with 14. Salem Academy won with 84.

Midway through the meet, as the Challenger girls racked up points, Bennett noted their feet “hadn’t touched the ground” since they set the 4x100 record.

The quartet of senior Haley Reed, Stephens, senior Zoey Boisen and Cave turned in a time of 49.63 seconds, defending the title the same group claimed in 2016 and breaking the record of 49.80. Valley Catholic set the old mark in 2014.

“We were not expecting to do that,” said Stephens. “We didn’t even know what the record was. Our goal was to break 50. It was the best relay we ever had. We mastered all of our handoffs.”

Cave said an adjustment between the steps on the first two legs, with Reed passing the baton to Stephens, added an extra boost.

By the time Cave was up as the anchor, she was ready.

“I didn’t see anyone next to me, so I knew I had to push it,” she said. “I kept telling myself don’t give up, don’t give up.”

The girls seemed to feed off the success.

Stephens ran a personal best in winning the 400 in a tightly contested battle.

Cave turned in a PR while finishing second in the 100 to a meet-record time. She then was third in the 200, again with a PR behind a meet mark.

Sophomore Katie Reitmann uncorked a throw in the shot put worthy of second.

“I can’t say enough about these girls,” said Bennett. “They’re self-motivated, they’re disciplined. It’s a great to way to finish the season.”

Cave ran the 100 in 12.57 seconds, utilizing an unusually good start, she said. Pleasant Hill’s Megan Miller set the record in 12.25.

In the 200, Cave went 25.79. Miller reset the standard to 25.39.

Stephens’ 400 race foreshadowed what was coming in the long relay. She gathered steam for the first 300 meters, then picked off two leaders in a stirring trip down the homestretch.

She set a personal best and met her goal of breaking 1 minute with her time of 59.49 seconds.

That extra gear she seems to have?

“The will to win,” said Stephens. “There’s nothing in me that lets me lose. I knew I had it in me to pass them. I was going to do whatever I had to do.”

Ditto in the 4x400 relay, with teammates Reed, Boisen and Cave. Stephens got the baton in fourth place and crossed the line in second. The time of 4:07.27 was behind only St. Mary’s 4:04.42.

“That’s Emily,” said Bennett. “She’s a competitor. She’s got heart.”

So, too, does Bennion, whose charge to the end helped vault St. Mary’s to a trophy. Her running mates were Meghan Michels, Maddie Wheelock and Aessa Catt.

It was Bennions second title of the day. She won the 300 hurdles for the second consecutive year and added a second in the 800 while setting a PR.

“I wanted to do better in the 8,” she said, “but I made up for it in the hurdles. I always like getting that No. 1.”

She won the hurdles in 46.66 seconds, not a PR but an improvement on her winning time as a freshman.

“It’s just my favorite race,” she said. “I came in feeling strong and ended strong.”

Her time in the 800 was 2:21.77. Catlin Gabel’s Maya Rayle won in 2:19.20.

Reitmann added a silver-medal effort in the shot put. Her best throw was 39-9½. La Pine’s Jordynn Slater took first at 40-7.

Booker, a junior, leaped 42-2¾ for second in the triple jump. Dawson Patton of Salem Academy triumphed in 42-9½.

Challengers junior Haiden Schaan claimed fourth place in the discus, throwing 139-8.

In the Class 1A boys meet, Butte Falls’ lone entrant, Isaac Tiry, placed seventh in the 100 in 11.86 and eighth in the 200 in 24.09.

Class 3A


TEAM SCORES: 1, Salem Academy 84; 2, Burns 52; 3, Catlin Gabel 47; 4, Pleasant Hill 37; 5, Harrisburg 36; 6, (tie) Cascade Christian and Amity 33; 8, LaPine 31.5; 9, Dayton 29; 10, Westside Christian 26; 11, Colton 22; 12, Glide 20; 13, Jefferson 19; 14, Taft 18.5; 15, Oregon Episcopal 18; 16 (tie) Umatilla and Scio 16; 18, (tie) St. Mary’s and Creswell 14; 20 (tie) Santiam Christian and Ranier 11; 22 (tie) Riverside and Clatskanie 10; 24, Nyssa 9; 25, Blanchet Catholic 8.5; 26, Portland Christian 7; 27 (tie) Irrigon, Warrenton and Coquille 6; 30, Rogue River 4; 31, De La Salle North Catholic 3.5; 32, Chemawa 3; 33, (tie) Horizon Christian and Lakeview 1.

100 — 1. Alonzo Ranch, Harrisburg, 11.20.

200 — 1. Gabe Arce-Torres, Taft, 22.47.

400 — 1. Juma Sei, Catlin Gabel, 48.15.

800 — 1 Juma Sei, Catlin Gabel, 2:01.04; 7. Jeffrey Fairbanks, Cascade Christian, 2:30.97; 8. Ben McDonald, Cascade Christian, 2:05.66.

1,500 — 1. Hunter Murphy, Pleasant Hill, 4:12.18; 6. Wyatt Lewis, Cascade Christian, 4:16.07.

110 HURDLES — 1. Owen McLoud, Dayton, 15.43.

300 HURDLES — 1. Wilson McLean, Salem Academy, 40.17.

4x100 RELAY — 1. Catlin Gabel (Matthew LeBlanc, Ben King-Hails, Rowan Hoffman, Juma Sei), 44.67; 10. St Mary's (Victor Tu, Jake Seig, Mike Miles, Justin Silsbee), 46.41; 12. Rogue River (Gavin Decker, Derek Pratt, Sid Fry, Thiago Veloso-Lopes), 47.83.

4x400 RELAY — 1. Catlin Gabel (Rowan Hoffman, Ian Hoyt, Ben King-Hails, Juma Sei), 3:29.63; 5. Cascade Christian (Caleb Jordan, Isaac Rubus, Wyatt Lewis, Jeffrey Fairbanks), 3:35.98.

DISCUS — 1. Dillon Towne, Glide, 162-5; 4. Haiden Schaan, Cascade Christian, 139-8; 9. Collin Marshall, Cascade Christian, 117-7.

JAVELIN — 1. Morgan Strunk, Salem Academy, 172-6; 10. Thys Kuitert, St. Mary’s, 124-6; 11. Wyatt Lewis, Cascade Christian, 122-4.

HIGH JUMP — 1. Jaycen Nelson, Amity, 6-2; 2. Riley Dexter, St. Mary’s, 6-1; 5. Derek Pratt, Rogue River, 6-0.

TRIPLE JUMP — 1. Dawson Patton, Salem Academy, 42-9.50; 2. Zach Booker, Cascade Christian, 42-2.75; 9. Aaron Hansen, Rogue River, 39-9.75.


TEAM SCORES: 1, Cascade Christian 64; 2, Blanchet Catholic 59; 3, Coquille 58.5; 4, St. Mary’s 50; 5, Nyssa 44.5; 6, Catlin Gabel 41; 7, Pleasant Hill 35; 8, Burns 31; 9, LaPine 28.5; 10, Lakeview 27; 11, Sheridan 24; 12, (tie) Amity and Oregon Episcopal 22; 14, Santiam Christian 21; 15, Riverdale 28; 16, Vale 13; 17, Portland Christian 12; 18, Glide, 10; 19, (tie) Westside Christian, De La Salle North Catholic and Taft 9; 22, Dayton 8.5; 23, Illinois Valley 8, 24, Jefferson 6; 25, (tie) Riverside and Colton, 5; 27, (tie) Irrigon, Salem Academy, Rainier and Horizon Christian 4; 31, Scio 3; 32, Umatilla 2; 33, (tie) Harrisburg and Creswell 1.

100 — 1. Megan Miller, Pleasant Hill, 12.25; 2. Amber Cave, Cascade Christian, 12.57.

200 — 1. Megan Miller, Pleasant Hill, 25.39; 3. Amber Cave, Cascade Christian, 25.79.

400 — 1. Emily Stephens, Cascade Christian, 59.49.

800 — 1. Maya Rayle, Catlin Gabel, 2:19.20; 2. Emma Bennion, St Mary's, 2:21.77.

1,500 — 1. Stephanie Finley, Oregon Episcopal, 4:47.32; 10. Lindsey Gurr, St. Mary’s, 5:22.79.

100 HURDLES — 1. Trinity Phipps, Blanchet Catholic, 15.63.

300 HURDLES — 1. Emma Bennion, St Mary's, 46.66.

4X100 RELAY — 1. Cascade Christian (Haley Reed, Emily Stephens, Zoey Boisen, Amber Cave), 49.63; 5. St. Mary’s (Meghan Michels, Maddie Wheelock, Tess McGill, Aessa Catt), 51.41.

4x400 RELAY — 1. St Mary's (Meghan Michels, Maddie Wheelock, Aessa Catt, Emma Bennion), 4:04.42; 2. Cascade Christian (Haley Reed, Zoey Boisen, Amber Cave, Emily Stephens), 4:07.27.

SHOT PUT — 1. Jordynn Slater, La Pine, 40-7; 2. Katie Reitmann, St Mary's, 39-9.50.

POLE VAULT — 1. Jocelyn Hartley, Nyssa, 10-6.

TRIPLE JUMP — 1. Rebeka Preston, Santiam Christian, 37-6; 7. Kara Ash, Cascade Christian, 33-5.75; 10. Tess McGill, St. Mary’s, 32-2.25.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email


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