Crater's Jack Galpin stretches out to win the Class 5A boys 400-meter race on Saturday. - Jamie Lusch

Crater wears its first track crown

EUGENE — It wasn't a foregone conclusion that Crater would win its first boys OSAA track and field state championship.

"We knew we had a shot," said senior sprinter Kelley Beck. "But we also knew we had to perform. We knew things had to go to plan."

Boy did they.

Crater rode its stable of sprint stars and threw in a few fine distance performances to unseat Marshfield as the Class 5A king Saturday at Hayward Field.

With Jack Galpin winning the 200 and 400 meters and helping both relay teams to state-record marks, the Comets scored 86 points to runner-up Marshfield's 63.

A year ago, Crater was second to the Pirates by nine points. This season, there were early signs that setback would be avenged.

First, the Comets returned most of their point scorers from 2009. Then, they added newcomers Galpin, a transfer from Bonanza, and Dillon Baker, a senior sprinter who turned out for the first time.

Asked if he saw a championship coming, head coach Justin Loftus said, "I saw it in the works a long time ago. But you never see the real deal until it happens. At the start of the year, we started to see what we had. Knowing what kind of kids we had and how hard they work was definitely something special."

There was added motivation, too, said Beck, because assistant coach Hans Voskes — long the program's head coach — is expected to retire from coaching after this season.

"He's been here for 30-plus years and hadn't gotten a state title," said Beck. "We definitely wanted to do it, but I think everyone kind of knew this was for coach Smith."

Crater entered Day 2 of the meet in a tie for fourth place but wasted little time showing what was to come.

The first time it sent runners to the track, they set a meet record in the 4x100 relay. They closed the meet the same way in the 4x400 relay.

In between, there was plenty of substance, with Josh Elliott and Max Runia contributing more points in the 1,500 (they were top three in the 3,000 the day before), Beck posting two top-fives, Jacob Ziegler placing fourth in the 300 hurdles and others chipping in down the line.

"Our team is really close," said Galpin. "Our whole team was looking at every race as just, get to your next race and do the best you can to help out the team with points. In the end, we're not here as individuals, we're here for the team title. That's what we want."

Galpin got warmed up on the short relay, joining Baker, Ziegler and anchor Beck to notch a mark of 42.77 seconds, bettering the record of 42.89 by West Albany last year.

He then took on the 400, and triumphed in 49.21. He'd set the meet record in the preliminaries at 48.93.

Beck, the defending champion, was fifth in 50.63.

Next for Galpin was the 200, and again he answered the call, breaking 22 seconds for the first time in his career with a time of 21.87, also a meet record. Beck placed fourth.

Galpin caught himself leaning back with about 40 meters to go.

"I got back upright and tried to power through as best as I could," said the junior. "I leaned about as much as is humanly possible."

And, he ended up crashing and burning just past the finish line.

The track, he said, "doesn't taste or feel good."

There was no such drama in the long relay. With Elliott supplanting Baker in the relay lineup, the team sped to a time of 3:22.72.

"That's kind of surprising," said Beck.

"We didn't have anyone in front of us, and that's usually how we get a good time."

Elliott tried to out-kick Daniel Winn of Cleveland in the 1,500, but for the second straight day, the latter got the better of him.

Winn won in 4:01.39, barely ahead of Elliott's 4:01.67. Runia was fifth.

Elliott pumped his fists as if to say "dang it" as he finished.

"It was more than 'Dang it,'" he corrected.

"I thought I had it at the 100," he said. "No offense, but I have a faster 400 split than Daniel. I thought I finally got it. That's what I'd been looking for."

What he and rest of the Crater contingent did find was the team title, however.

"Oh, I think our expectations were definitely met," said Loftus. "You always want to be first in everything, don't you?"

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

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