Depth and a roster that includes some of the top performers in 4A girls track and field this spring have Philomath eyeing a potential state title.
The Warriors were third as a team at state in 2018, led by wins from both relays and runner-up finishes by Maggie Ross in the 100 and 200 meters. They return most of their top athletes and could place even higher.
Philomath and Sweet Home enter this week’s Oregon West Conference district meet at Sisters trying to get as many as possible to next week’s 4A state meet in Gresham. The top two placers in each event plus those reaching qualifying times and marks advance to state.
Philomath lost sophomore Phaedra Hinds-Cook, a member of both relays, to a knee injury during basketball season. But the Warriors are still first in the 4x400 and second in the 4x100 this spring.
Junior Hannah Hernandez was seventh in the 1,500 and ninth in the 3,000 at last year’s state meet but sits first and third, respectively, on the 4A season lists. She’s also second on the 800 season list but had to pick two of the three distance races because rules don’t allow an athlete to enter all three in the same meet.
“She could challenge for any one of those events but had to make a decision,” Philomath coach Joe Fulton said.
Ross is again a top competitor in the sprints, as is Melia Morton in the 400 and long jump. Alivia Pittman has emerged as a state-placing contender in the hurdles races.
The Warriors have a handful of athletes in the field events — Sadiemay Gullberg (shot put and discus), Mia Rust (shot put), Sara Bradley (javelin) Amie McDaniel (pole vault) — in the 4A top 10 in their respective events and could add to the team points at state.
“Those are events we’re going to need a few points in,” Fulton said. “They’re deep events in the state … but all the girls are capable of scoring.”
Philomath could have three pole vaulters reach state, as Connor Kutzler and Jeremy Schaffer are tied with one other competitor for the top 4A boys mark this season.
The vaulters are coached by Dennis Phillips, a former Oregon State athlete who twice qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Phillips and the Warriors regularly send vaulters to state.
“It’s quite the little fraternity over here,” Fulton said. “They work hard, they’re very dedicated to it and of course Dennis (Phillips) is very dedicated to them.”
In the boys shot put, Kane Rust has a new personal best more than three feet farther than he threw in 2018 and is now one of the top 4A competitors. Teammate Grant Hellesto jumped into the 4A top 10 in the 800 last week after primarily running the 1,500 most of the season.
Huskies on the rise
A growth spurt and some added muscle have Sweet Home sophomore Tristan Calkins among the top 4A boys long jumpers this spring.
His 22-foot, 3-inch PR set last month is more than three feet better than his best jump last year. He’s since jumped 21 feet or farther in five straight meets.
“We got him in the weight room, and he’s just strong. He’s still developing. He’s only a sophomore. The kid works pretty hard,” Huskies coach Dakotah Keys said, adding that Calkins runs four miles to school when he can’t get a ride for morning lifts. “He’s really confident in himself and competitive. That’s what it comes down to.”
Keys added that the confidence has come from Calkins’ consistently strong results.
“Those big marks are going to come, and I think he’s going to continue to improve here at the end of this season and obviously the next two seasons,” the coach said.
Noah Dinsfriend is again one of the top 4A hurdles in the state. He enters the week first in the 300s and fourth in the 110s. The senior was third at state in the 300 hurdles last year.
Junior Casey Tow is second in the 4A 400 season rankings. Keys says Tow is a hard worker who wants to learn and get better.
Calkins, Dinsfriend and Tow are joined by Lance Hanson on both relays. The Huskies enter the week ranked second in the state in the 4x400 and eighth in the 4x100.
“Those guys are just leading the way for the team, and a lot of guys are trying to imitate that and put their best foot forward. It’s nice to have,” Keys said.
The Sweet Home girls have been aided by the full-time additions of sisters Kate and Torree Hawken.
“That whole family is competitive and I think it’s made those other girls step up a little bit more,” Keys said.
Along with Jessy Hart and Zoe James, the Hawken sisters compete on both relays, which have a chance to place at state.