East Linn Christian Academy fields much the same boys track and field team that finished fourth at last year at state, with a few talented additions.
The returners are a year bigger, stronger and faster, putting the Eagles in position of favorite at this week’s 2A state meet, held Friday and Saturday at Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
Solid depth has East Linn with 70.7 points, more than 17 ahead of Heppner in a form chart using season’s best times and marks.
“My guys know that if they go and do what they’ve done this season already, they don’t have to do anything special,” Eagles coach Kellen Peters said. “They just go and perform like they have before, they have as good a shot at winning as anybody.”
Leading the way are senior distance runner Jedaiah Wasson and junior hurdler Christian Wilson.
Wasson, the small-school state cross-country runner-up last fall, has lowered his 3,000-meter personal best by more than 17 seconds over last season to 8 minutes, 56.61 seconds, the best time in the classification. He has the second-best 2A 1,500 time at 4:13.24, another PR set this season. Wasson will be challenged by Heppner’s Hunter Nichols in both races. Wasson dealt with illness last year and finished ninth in the 1,500 and sixth in the 3,000.
“This year he’s feeling really good and has had some good lifetime PRs in the last couple weeks,” Peters said.
Wilson has dropped his 110 hurdles PR four times this spring, including a 15.22 to win the Special District 2 race last week. He also set a new best in the 300 hurdles by more than a second at the district meet, clocking a 42.03.
He’s been working on his hurdle form and spending a lot of time in the weight room. His strength helps him overcome his tendency to clip the barriers in the 110 hurdles.
“Once he gets that down, where he can get over the hurdles consistently without hitting them, his times will drop even more,” Peters said.
He’ll be joined in the 300 hurdles at state by teammate Jaren Bowler and Jacob Johns. Both are expect to place and score team points.
“Those long hurdle practices that they have are pretty intense because they push each other, they definitely do,” Peters said.
East Linn senior Matthew Reardon is tied for the second-best pole vault mark this season (13 feet even) after improving his personal best by one foot.
The Monroe boys are third in the form chart and well within reach of a top-four finish and a team trophy.
Junior Zach Young is seeded second in the javelin and high jump and fourth in the 400. Senior teammate Cristian Garcia has won the last two shot put state titles.
Young, who also plays baseball, returned to the high jump earlier this month for the first time in two years. He cleared 6 feet in his first two meets and then 6-5 to win the Special District 3 meet.
Dragons coach Linda Crocker said his extra time at practice last week helped immensely.
“Zack opted to not do the baseball games last week and just work with us,” Crocker said. “We were able to get some drills in on the high jump and go over things and talk about his form.”
The Jefferson boys, led by standout jumper Cesar Sepulveda, are fifth in the form chart with 34 points but less than four behind Oakland in fourth.
Sepulveda is the top seed in the high jump and triple jump and third in the long jump. He’s cleared 6-9¼ this season, second on the 2A all-time list. Teammate Gaven Robertson is seeded fifth in the long jump and triple jump.
Central Linn’s boys contingent is led by Dustin Baze, a junior seeded second in the 200 and third in the 100 on season’s best times. He also runs on the Cobras’ third-seeded 4x100 relays and sixth-seeded 4x400 relay.
It hasn’t been the spring Monroe senior Kyndal Martin had hoped for coming into the season.
The Idaho State signee came down with mononucleosis in March and missed about a month of competition. Martin has been back in meets for about three weeks, including last weekend’s Special District 3 meet, where she qualified for state in four events.
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She won three of those (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump) and was second in the other (100) in the 2018 state meet, helping the Dragons to a team title. She holds the 2A 300 hurdles all-time record of 44.93 set last year.
Heavy legs have been a residual effect of the illness. The district meet, held in Toledo, marked the first time since Martin’s return that she had competed in four events in the same meet.
“It felt much better,” Martin said of her district results. “I know I’m not where I was last year. But after figuring out I had mono I knew it was going to be a tough season.”
She added that she was happy with her results and couldn’t ask for much more.
Based on season-best results, she’s seeded first in the 100 hurdles, second in the 300 hurdles and long jump and fourth in 100.
Martin is surrounded by a team that will likely challenge for another championship. Monroe is tied for first with Enterprise in the form chart, with Grant Union just a few points behind.
“As a coach you prepare your kids all along to be at peak at district and state,” Crocker said. “I really feel like our athletes have done that.”
Mirtha Lopez is seeded second in the 200 and fourth in the 400. Laura Young is seeded second in the shot put and is also entered in the discus.
Peyton Bodi, a senior seeded fourth in the 1,500 and seventh in the 800, qualified as an individual for the first time since making it in the 1,500 as a freshman. She was second in both events at the district meet.
“Me and Linda (Crocker) were both in tears after her 800. It was really fun to watch,” Martin said.
Ashley Sutton, a sophomore also playing softball, was a surprise qualifier in the shot put after a personal best of more than two feet and is seeded fourth.
In the discus, Young and Julia Schindler received wild-card berths, entries used to fill out the field.
“I definitely believe that’s a game-changer for us,” Crocker said.
Central Linn sisters Jessica and Jenna Neal are seeded fourth and sixth, respectively, in the 3,000. Teammates Madison and Makenna Chapman, twin sisters, are tied for the fifth-best mark in the high jump.
Both of the Cobras’ relays are seeded sixth.
Jefferson’s Sam Schwarz is tied for the sixth seed in the pole vault. East Linn Christian’s Lilyanne Savage is seeded seventh in the 100 hurdles.
Martin, who signed with Idaho State in January, will compete in the heptathlon and both hurdles races — 100 and 400 — for the Bengals.
She liked the snow that was on the ground when she visited the Pocatello campus and that the whole team welcomed her and was friendly.
“I just really liked the atmosphere,” she said. “Everyone was super nice, even though they didn’t know me.”
Alsea sophomore Jessica Carlisle has the best triple jump mark in the classification this spring at 35 feet, 9½ inches, just 1½ inches from the 1A all-time top 10.
She recorded marks of 34-7½ or better in three straight meets — including improving her personal best by more than 14 inches on April 23 — before winning the Special District 1 meet at 33-11.
Carlisle is also entered in the 200, in which she set a 27.37 PR at the district meet.