EUGENE — Cascade Christian got the jump on the competition at the Class 3A track and field state championships.
The Challengers, with Kara Ash and Wyatt Lewis placing fourth and fifth in the girls and boys long jumps, respectively, had a hopping good time at Hayward Field Thursday on Day 1 of the two-day meet.
Classes 3A, 2A and 1A competed on the first day with a handful of finals and preliminaries in other events. Their remaining finals will be today, when the larger schools — classes 6A, 5A and 4A — begin their two-day stint.
Behind Ash and two placers in the discus, Abbey Alexander and Sarah Johnston, Cascade Christian’s girls climbed into fifth place with 10 points, while St. Mary’s was tied for 12th with six points. La Pine leads the team standings with 24.
Pleasant Hill heads the 3A boys with 27 points. Cascade Christian is 14th based on the four points Lewis scored.
Ash battled various injuries throughout the season, and she was seeded only 11th out of 12 jumpers.
But the senior put together two attempts that each went 16 feet, 1½ inches, and that was good enough for fourth place. Sheridan’s Ronni VanZant’s won at 16-11¼.
Ash tore a meniscus knee ligament as a freshman and didn’t have surgery, “so that’s always kind of a bother,” she said. She is also accustomed to shin splints, but they were worse than usual this season. For good measure, she’s wrangled with a hip injury.
“Throughout the week I prepared for it,” she said. “I got a massage, and today I took advil and lots of numbing stuff. I knew I was feeling better than what I had been previously.”
She nearly matched her season best of 16-2, and might have encroached on her career best of 17-1½, set as a sophomore, had she hit the take-off board perfectly.
Instead, she was behind the board on her two best jumps.
Ash is coached by her father, Rodney, a former distance runner who, she said, learned sprints and jumps so he could coach his kids. He’s been a Challengers assistant for three years and Kara’s personal coach since her days at Shady Cove Middle School.
The top eight at state receive medals, and the coach of the event champion presents them.
Kara Ash admitted to one regret.
“My dream was to have my dad be the one to put the medal around my neck,” she said, holding back emotion. “But that’s all right. I still had a great season and worked hard. It was a good experience.”
Her teammates fared well, also.
Alexander, a junior, and Johnston, a senior, each had personal bests in the discus to bring in team points.
Alexander threw 121-2, beating her old best by 6 feet. Johnston’s mark was 113-5, nearly 3 feet past her former PR.
La Pine’s Jordynn Slater won with a 132-7 throw.
For the St. Mary’s girls, freshman Sophie Dobry placed sixth in the 3,000 meters in 11 minutes, 28.07 seconds, a slight personal best.
The race provided an interesting twist, with winner Maya Rayle, of Catlin Gabel, claiming her second straight crown in a meet-record 9:46.90.
The mark she broke was owned by Dobry’s sister, Marissa, who ran 9:53.89 in 2016, when she beat Rayle, then a sophomore, by more than half a minute.
The Crusaders’ other points Thursday came from junior Sophia Pastrano in the long jump. She placed sixth at 15-10½.
Similar to Ash, Lewis had a what-might-have-been moment en route to his fifth in the long jump.
The junior scratched by a narrow margin on his final jump, negating what would have been his best ever in competition.
He settled for a mark of 20-3½ on his penultimate jump, a PR by half an inch over what he did at the Southern Cascade League district meet a week earlier.
“At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t jumping so hot,” said Wyatt. “I’m starting to peak a little more, and I’m really excited for next year. I’ve been uncorking some big ones, but I haven’t quite got them on the board. So now that I’ve got that dialed in a little better, I’ve just been able to progress.”
His final jump would have eclipsed 21 feet, according to his coach, said Lewis, but he scratched.
“That was a big one,” said Lewis, “but I’m OK with it. I jumped well today and I’m at peace with it. I’ve got one more year.”
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com
CLASS 3A State Championships
TEAM SCORES: Pleasant Hill 27, Salem Academy 17, Willamina 11, Clatskanie 11, Blanchet Catholic 10, Glide 10, La Pine 8, Oregon Episcopal 8, Umatilla 8, Harrisburg 6, Lakeview 5, Amity 5, Santiam Christian 5, Sheridan 4, Cascade Christian 4, Rainier, 4, Riverdale 3, Jefferson 3, Nyssa 2, Coquille 2, Burns 2, Chemawa 1.
3,000 — 1, Hunter Murphy, Pleasant Hill, 9:02.54; 10, Cameron Smith, Rogue River, 9:59.55.
SHOT PUT — 1, Dillon Towne, Glide, 50-4.25; 11, Jake Reynolds, St. Mary’s, 42-2.25; 12, Haiden Schaan, Cascade Christian, 40-3.
POLE VAULT — 1, Thomas Smith, Blanchet Catholic, 13-0.
LONG JUMP — 1, Garrett Phelps, Pleasant Hill, 21-4.5; 5, Wyatt Lewis, Cascade Christian, 20-3.
TEAM SCORES: La Pine 24, Burns 20, Pleasant Hill 17, Glide 11, Cascade Christian 10, Sheridan 10, Catlin Gabel 10, Nyssa 8, Portland Christian 8, Taft 8, Salem Academy 8, St. Mary’s 6, Vale 6, Creswell 6, Blanchet Catholic 6, Oregon Episcopal 6, Santiam Christian 5.5, Lakeview 5, Irrigon 5, Harrisburg 4.5, Horizon Christian 3, Rainier 2.5, Westside Christian 2.5, Coquille 2, Illinois Valley 1.
3,000 — 1, Maya Rayle, Catlin Gabel, 9:46.9; 6, Sophia Dobry, St. Mary’s, 11:28.07.
DISCUS — 1, Jordynn Slater, La Pine, 132-7; 5, Abbey Alexander, Cascade Christian, 121-2; 8, Sarah Johnston, Cascade Christian, 113-5.
JAVELIN — 1, Jordynn Slater, La Pine, 151-6.
HIGH JUMP — 1, Allie Hueckman, Burns, 5-6.
LONG JUMP — 1, Ronni VanZant, Sheridan, 16-11.25; 6, Sophia Pastrano, St. Mary’s, 14-10.5.