Eli Nafziger and Emily Stefan will try to make good on some new life that extended their respective track and field seasons.
Nafziger, a South Albany senior, and Stefan, a West Albany sophomore, will head to this week’s 5A state meet as wild-card entries in three different events after strong performances at the Mid-Willamette Conference district meet. Such entries are used to fill out event fields after other qualification standards are reached.
The five area schools — Corvallis, Crescent Valley, Lebanon, South Albany and West Albany — produced 21 top-two placers and two qualifiers on automatic standards that advanced to the state meet, held Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
In addition, there were 37 wild cards between those five schools.
Both Nafziger and Stefan were unable to qualify otherwise, but both are expected to score their teams points.
Nafziger is seeded seventh in the boys long jump and eighth in the triple jump based on season-best results. He also runs on the RedHawks’ seventh-seeded 4x100-meter relay, which got in on a wild card.
Stefan is seeded fourth in the girls 200, just outside placing at ninth in the 100 and runs anchor on the Bulldogs’ fifth-seeded 4x100 relay, which reached state with a wild card.
Stefan’s points could help West come away with a top-four finish and a team trophy. The Bulldogs are third in a form chart using season’s best times and marks with 48 points.
The Mid-Willamette is dominant in the girls form chart, with North Salem a strong favorite at 93 points and Silverton second at 66.
Lebanon’s Isabella Ayala and West Albany’s Annie Berry each received wild cards in the girls 1,500 and 3,000 as part of speedy district finals for those distances. West’s Sydney Beers (triple jump, high jump) also qualified via wild cards in two individual events.
The West Albany girls are projected to score in nine of 17 events, led by senior thrower Alyssa Walls.
The Grand Canyon University signee is seeded second in the shot put and discus and fourth in the javelin based on season-best marks.
Tiffany Forrest, another Bulldogs senior, is seeded second in the triple jump. She has a season best of 36-9 and a personal best of 36-11½ set in 2018. North Bend’s Chelsea Howard leads the 5A rankings this season at 37-11.
“I’m really excited,” Forrest said after her district win last week. “I’m pretty close to the girl in first place, so I’m hoping if I can pull out a PR, something I’m definitely capable of hitting 37s like I did in practice. So if I can pull it out like I did in practice, that would be amazing.”
Lebanon senior Morgan Hopkins is seeded first in the shot put with a personal-best 40-¼ set earlier this season. She won the state title in 2017.
“It’s nice having been there because the atmosphere is so different,” said Hopkins, also seeded fifth in the discus. “So it does give me a relaxing feeling, just another meet.”
Corvallis freshman Madeline Nason is seeded second in the 1,500 and 3,000. Crescent Valley sophomore Sunitha Black is seeded third in the 3,000 and seventh in the 1,500.
In boys events, West Albany sophomore Aiden Watts is seeded first in the discus and third in the shot put. He qualified in the shout put by wild card.
Corvallis junior Sebbie Law is seeded second in the 400 and South Albany senior Hayden Watts third in the triple jump.
At the district meet, Watts tied for first but finished second on a tiebreaker after North Salem’s Michael Endicott jumped 43-10½ on the final attempt of the competition, one jump after Watts had taken the lead in the event.
“I think next week I’ll jump a lot better,” Watts said. “I think I’ll have it together from the start and I think I’ll do very well at state.”