Comparing this season’s Corvallis High girls’ 4x400-meter relay to past years is inevitable.
The Spartans have won the event at the track and field state meet the past three years, leaving the question of whether they can do it again.
Corvallis has put itself in the conversation for Saturday’s 5A final at Hayward Field in Eugene, having run the fifth-fastest time in the classification this spring.
“Going into state, I have to remind myself it’s a totally different team from last year,” said senior Gwyneth McMorris, joining junior Justine Feist as the two who have competed on the relay in the state final the previous two seasons.
“We really have to have new, fresh expectations for ourselves. We can’t compare ourselves to the years past because it’s a different team.”
The Spartans ran under four minutes in winning the state title the past three times.
Their season best is 4:06.32, but coach Mark Hulburt knows they can run low again because all four members (senior Grace Spaulding and Mylene Gorzynski are the other two) have all ran under 60 seconds.
Spaulding, the Mid-Willamette Conference district champion in the high jump and runner-up in the triple jump, ran on the state-winning relay as a freshman in 2011 but didn’t the next two years.
Summit has the top 5A time at 4:00.78. Liberty, Mid-Willamette champion Crescent Valley and Cleveland have also ran faster than the Spartans this season.
“I feel like we can win state,” Gorzynski said. “Obviously we’re all going to have our best race and push ourselves.”
Gorzynski, also a standout soccer player, found out just a few days before last week’s district meet that she would be running an open 400 for the first time.
She said the news didn’t faze her because she had been running the 4x400 relay most of the season.
Gorzynski finished second to CV’s Aiyanna Cameron-Lewis in 59.02, the No. 4 time in 5A this season.
“She had good splits in the 4x4 so we kind of knew what to expect,” Hulburt said. “We had her down there under 60 on the relay, and she really doesn’t know what she’s doing yet. She can go faster.”
Gorzynski hopes to get second, with a nod to Cameron-Lewis, last year’s runner-up in the event.
Gorzynski was also second at the district meet in the 200, making for what could be a busy two days when state gets started Friday.
Clea Poklemba, who ran on last year’s relay at state, is an alternate along with fellow sophomore Maria Ingersoll.
Cameron-Lewis, a senior, is chasing state titles in the 400 and 800, events she has previously won.
She has the second-fastest 800 time (2:16.62) to Summit freshman Sarah Reeves’ 2:16.48.
Her season-best 400 time of 56.89, which she ran to win the district title, is the top 5A time by more than 1.7 seconds.
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Cameron-Lewis ran the anchor leg on the Raiders’ district champion short and long relay teams.
Both relays also include senior Katy Schmidt, junior Kacey Little and freshman Natalia Corbitt.
Corvallis has entrants in 13 of 17 events at state, giving the Spartans a chance at a third straight team trophy for a top-four finish.
The Spartans are fifth on a form chart compiled by the Gazette-Times based on season-best times and marks.
Summit, of Bend, is the runaway favorite for an eighth straight 5A girls title.
Liberty and Hermiston are next with Wilsonville, Corvallis, Hood River Valley and Cleveland possibly battling for fourth.
Corvallis senior Annie Waldrop will try to overcome an injured throwing hand in Saturday’s finals of the shot put and discus.
She has the season’s third-best 5A mark in the shot put (39 feet, ¾ inches) and seventh-best in the discus (112-3).
Crescent Valley junior Matthew McGowen, the Mid-Willamette district 800 champion, will not compete in that event at state.
He will instead focus on the 1,500, which he also won at the district meet.
McGowen will be seeded sixth in the 1,500 based on a season-best time of 4:05.44, which he ran at the district meet.
McGowen would have been seeded third in the 800.
CV junior Alex Smith was second to McGowen in the 800 at the district meet. McGowen’s exit from that race gives the Mid-Willamette’s second spot to Corvallis junior Gareth Jones, who was third last week.
Corvallis junior Maclean Panshin ran a personal-best 4:07.91 in the 1,500 to finish second behind McGowen at the district meet.
Panshin’s 2013 track season was limited due to a hip injury. This spring, he’s run more than 10 seconds faster in the 1,500 than he did two years ago.
Crescent Valley and Corvallis look to have a shot at a state title in the 4x400 relay.
CV’s 4x400 team of Jonathan Condrea, McGowen, Eric McDougal and Alex Smith has the second-fastest 5A time of the season with its district meet win in 3:25.27.
Corvallis’ foursome of Ellis Roper, Hunter Mattson, Panshin, Albert Cai was second in 3:25.49, which is fourth for the season.
Mattson, a sophomore, was second in the 100 and 200 at the district meet and is expected to score points at state with top-eight finishes.