Kaison Faust started from behind the take-off board in the long jump in the Southwest Conference district track and field championships Thursday at North Medford High.
What mattered most, however, was where he finished.
Despite giving up ground on his penultimate jump, Faust sailed 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches to set the conference meet record and claim his second straight SWC title in the event.
“Yeah,” he grinned, “I missed the board by a little bit. But really, the adrenaline just took over and I just jumped.”
Faust was one of four local champions on the first day of the two-day meet, when finals were held for the boys and girls in the 3,000 meters and three other field events: the shot put, javelin and pole vault.
North Medford sophomore Jaida Ross, the defending state champion in the shot put, broke the meet record with a throw of 42-4 1/4. Teammate and fellow sophomore Jane Ersepke triumphed in the long jump, going 16-9 1/4.
South Medford freshman Emma Schmerbach captured the 3,000 with a strong kick, finishing in 10 minutes, 23.59 seconds.
Finals in all other events will be Saturday at North’s Bowerman Field. Field events begin at 12:30 p.m., running events at 2 p.m.
Sheldon leads the boys team standings with 46 points, followed by Grants Pass (43) and Roseburg (33).
The girls front-runner is Grants Pass with 46 points. Sheldon is second with 40 and North Medford third with 39.
The multi-talented Faust — he’ll play basketball in college at Oregon Tech — also has the fastest time in the conference in the 100 and will compete in the finals of that race, the 4x100 relay and the triple jump on Saturday.
After the preliminary round in the long jump, Faust ran his 100 heat and posted a personal record and the day’s best time of 10.91 seconds.
Back over to the long jump finals, he eclipsed 22 feet with his first jump. On his second, he got the crowd clapping in unison as he began his approach.
“It just gets me in rhythm,” said Faust. “It’s nice to have the crowd behind me.”
His goal always is to go 23 feet, he said.
Faust’s jump broke the meet record of 23-0 3/4, set by Sheldon’s DJ Wright in 2008. The Black Tornado senior improved his PR by 3 inches and moved to the head of the pack in Class 6A.
South Medford’s Malik Polk was second at 21-7 1/4.
“He’s pretty focused,” North Medford coach Piet Voskes said of Faust. “I think he capitalized on being on a runway he’s familiar with, and his athleticism really came to the forefront today. He’s a quality athlete. He loves big opportunities to compete, and today was that day.”
Ditto Ross, who also won a second consecutive SWC title. She edged out the record of 42-4 set by South Eugene’s Kallie Calhoun in 2010. Jessalyn England of Grants Pass was second at 38-1 1/2.
An avid soccer player who is on a Rogue Valley Timbers club team, Ross stepped away from that sport in the past week to devote time to the shot put.
Her PR is 43-7 3/4, but she’d only been past 40 feet twice this year before Thursday.
“I’ve been trying to get into the 40s for a while,” she said. “I’ve been struggling. I practiced a lot last week and took a week off from soccer so I could just focus on this, and I guess it helped.”
She’s been trying to get her upper body clear of her hips when throwing. She felt the transition on her big throw.
In the week before, she popped a 45-footer in practice.
Her goal now?
“Cash that 45,” said Ross. “I’ve gotta get that. I just have to put it together.”
Another state title wouldn’t be bad, either.
“That’s the most important thing,” said Voskes, “letting everyone know that wasn’t an accident.”
Schmerbach entered the 3,000 as the No. 3 seed, but she ran a steady, patient race, staying just off the shoulder of top-seeded Caramia Mestler of Sheldon most of the way.
“I just wanted to go out with the top group and just push the pace,” said Schmerbach. “The leader definitely did that. Then I just booked it at the end.”
She admitted to being tired with three laps to go, but there she was in the final 200 meters, passing Mestler and finishing strong. Mestler was nearly 6 seconds back at the finish.
Schmerbach, who was about 4 seconds off her PR, was surprised she had that much left.
The race was “painful,” she said, “definitely tough.”
Ersepke had the lead heading into the finals and maintained it. She won by nearly 3 inches over Grants Pass’ Camdyn Bruner.
Erspeke didn’t manage a personal best. She went 17-4 in mid-April, and that mark is tied for seventh in Class 6A.
Grants Pass’ boys got a victory from Daniel Beckstead in the 3,000 in 8:49.45.
TEAM SCORES: Sheldon 46, Grants Pass 43, Roseburg 33, South Medford 32, North Medford 21, South Eugene 19, Willamette 1.
3,000 — 1, Daniel Beckstead, GP, 8:49.45; 2, Vincent Mestler, She, 8:54.81; 3, Tanner Sayers, SM, 8:54.87.
SHOT PUT — 1, Tyler Sconce, Ros, 54-0.5; 2, Carson Ellis, Ros, 48-3; 3, Trent Snyder, SM, 48-2.75.
JAVELIN — 1, Dalton Rasmussen, Ros, 193-3; 2, Anoop Khatra, She, 180-2; Matt Metcalf, She, 170-5.
POLE VAULT — 1, Simon Park, SE, 15-0; 2, Zackary Williams, GP, 13-9; 3, Kolby Bautista, GP, 13-6.
LONG JUMP — 1, Kaison Faust, NM, 23-5.5; 2, Malik Polk, SM, 21-7.25; 3, Joel Valadez, GP, 20-7.5.
TEAM SCORES: Grants Pass 46, Sheldon 40, North Medford 39, Roseburg 20, South Eugene 19, South Medford 17, Willamette 14.
3,000 — 1, Emma Schmerbach, SM, 10:23.59; 2, Caramia Mestler, She, 10:29.43; 3, Melissa Berry, She, 10:33.27.
SHOT PUT — 1, Jaida Ross, NM, 42-4.25; 2, Jessalyn England, GP, 38-1.5; 3, Natalie Willoughby, Wil, 36-6.5.
JAVELIN — 1, Jordin Johnson, She, 124-9; 2, Jessalyn England, GP, 116-4; 3, Kamaile Kaeo, NM, 115-3.
POLE VAULT — 1, Maya Kaperick, SE, 11-0; 2, Gabby Bartlett, Wil, 9-6; 3, Maya Baksay, GP, 9-6.
LONG JUMP — 1, Jane Erspeke, NM, 16-9.25; 2, Camdyn Bruner, GP, 16-6.5; 3, Kathryn Clark, She, 16-0.5.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org