GRESHAM — Aiden Paul had grown so frustrated with his shot put results that he’d given up practicing the event outside of competition for more than a month.
The West Albany sophomore’s best toss while taking third in last week’s district meet was more than five feet off the personal-best of 54 feet, 2 inches he threw in early April, further adding to the frustration. That seeded him eighth in the OSAA track and field state meet after he was awarded a wild-card berth.
Paul found whatever was missing Friday, and his final toss of 54-1¼ was good enough for third in the 5A boys competition at Mt. Hood Community College.
“Just this past week I started to practice, because I said ‘I have to place higher than eighth,’ so I have to start practicing again,” he said. “I got down and I fixed my problems and finally got a good one.”
It was a sense of relief for Paul, who had thrown no better than 50-5 in the previous four meets. His PR and season best had him third in the 5A rankings coming in. He was at 50-6 Friday before launching his best throw on his last of six attempts.
“I think it was just my angle, flattening it out. The whole season, since Titan when I hit my PR, I’ve been throwing straight up and it’s terrible,” Paul said. “Finally flattened it out and got a 54, which is great.”
Paul finished behind two of his Super Track Throwers Club teammates. Hood River Valley’s Henry Buckles was the winner at 59-5 and Silverton’s Ben Willis second at 57-1.
Crescent Valley’s Kaimana “Bubba” Wa’a was eighth at 47-6.
South Albany senior Hayden Watts finished with his best mark as well, taking fourth in the triple jump at 42-7¼.
“It was good to finish strong with my best jump. Sad to be done,” he said.
That last effort allowed Watts, who has a personal best of 44-0, to move up from fifth.
“Well, I was expecting a lower place than fourth. I’m happy with fourth,” he said. “I wanted to do better than what I did with my marks, but fourth place isn’t half bad.”
Teammate Eli Nafziger was 10th at 39-5.
In the 3,000 final, Crescent Valley twin freshman brothers Blake and Cade Byer raised the expectation for what they might be able to accomplish down the road.
Blake was 11th in 8 minutes, 55.3 seconds and Cade 12th in 9:02.98, both significant personal bests. It was a fast race led by a meet-record 8:13.10 set by Ashland’s Evan Holland.
Raiders coach Tyler Bushnell called the results “pretty stunning” given the downpour during the race. For both boys, it was the fifth new PR at that distance in as many races this spring.
“Just hopping on that train and going for it,” Bushnell said. “They’ve been this picture of progress this season, too. Every single week it’s like a new PR in whatever event they’re in. Long runs on the weekend. They’re as motivated as it gets.”
Corvallis junior Sebbie Law was the top qualifier in the 400 (50.88) and also made the final in the 200 (personal-best 22.88). Crescent Valley sophomore Jordan Henke qualified in the 800 (2:01.84).