Crusader throwers pull their weight for district crown

Galvanized by four burly, heavy-duty football players dabbling in the world of track and field for the first time ever, the Jesuit boys' track team played havoc at the Metro League Championships last Wednesday and Friday.

Max Rich, Doug Brenner, Henry Mondeaux and Andrew Kirkland all were part of the Crusaders' clinical offense during football season that paved the way to the 6A State Championship game. On Friday, the towering foursome helped take Jesuit to 217.5 total points, more than twice as many as second-place Beaverton. In all, the Jesuit boys clinched 16 individual state berths.

Mondeaux — a junior who's being recruited by a number of Big Ten and Pac-12 schools for football — won the discus (146-11) and placed second in the shot put (51-02). The left-handed Rich, who will play college football at Harvard in the fall, took the shot put (53-07) over Brenner and Mondeaux. Kirkland was third in the discus (139-00).

The trenchmen have carried their collective girth, fierce competitive drive and team mentality on the gridiron over to the discus ring and shot put pit. In league competition during the regular season, the Crusader throwers only gave up two points. Rich, Mondeaux and Brenner swept the shot put at districts and every Metro dual meet the Crusaders competed in during the spring, the first time that's ever happened in Jesuit's history.

“It's really cool,” said Rich. "Obviously, we've had a lot of great throwers and athletes come out of Jesuit, and I think it's a testament to all the hard work we've put in together.”

Interestingly enough, Rich and Brenner — both seniors — are first-time throwers who used their frames and force to adapt quickly to throwing. The duo also showered praise on coach Mark Duncan who worked with the big men every day and turned them into district powers.

“He's absolutely amazing, probably one of the best coaches in the nation,” said Brenner. “He was just so excited to have three or four of us big guys who were excited about learning and getting after it. We're lucky to have him.

It helps that we're all very big people. It was big for us to get the fundamentals down as the year started, and now we're getting ahold of it.”

Pitting themselves against one another for the last time as a team has acted as a final chance to let loose as high school seniors before moving on to the Division One level this summer for football.

“We just wanted to have fun together, mostly,” said Rich. “This is our last year together, so we all thought it'd fun to do track and have a good time together. We have great competition in practice, so that's what makes us better, and we have a great coach. It could've gone to any of us really.”

Fastest man

Xavier Coleman took the reins as the Metro's fastest man, winning the 100 (10.96) and 200 (22.15) while running the first leg of the victorious 4 x 100 relay and second place 4 x 400.

Coleman said he got out of the blocks quicker than normal, and though he didn't raise his knees up as high as he wanted to toward the end, the Crusader racer barreled through the finish line for first place. In the 200, Coleman took control at the turn and pulled away from Beaverton's Ezra Duilio to clinch his third state meet ticket.

“I was expecting to win. I wasn't going to settle for anything less,” said Coleman.
“Last year at state I got second in the 200, and I at least want to win the 100 or 200 this year. It's my senior year, and I want to go out on top. That's what I'm working towards.”

Coleman was also the first leg on the Crusaders' 4 x 100 relay that coming in had the second best time in Metro behind Beaverton. The trash talk between the two teams was flying pre-race because the Beavers ran a 42.5 and Jesuit had yet to break the 43-second glass ceiling. In the end, it was the Crusaders doing all the crowing as Chase Morrison ran a scintillating third leg and gave Joseph Alfieri the baton with enough of a cushion to hold off the Beavers and their star anchor Ross Hoffman.

“They (Beaverton) were talking a little, saying they were going to get us, and I think that pushed us. We weren't having it,” said Coleman. “We just had to get the handoffs down. We've had troubles with handoffs the past couple weeks, but we got them down and were just happy with the outcome.”

'Just a mountain'

Max Dordevic swept the 110 and 300 hurdles and was part of the Crusaders' 4 x 400 relay that took second in the final race of the day. The junior said neither hurdles competition was as smooth as he would've liked, but he got over the barricades quickly and unblemished enough to take home two first-place medals.

“Both were really fast for races that weren't so clean. Like the 110's — I was definitely pressing more than I should have,” said Dordevic. “I should've been focused on being clean rather than getting over and making sure I didn't hit any. In the 300's I might've gone out a little too slow because I didn't hit the first hurdle with my correct lead leg. The whole rest of the race I was fighting to make sure I didn't lose any position. Both races I have things I can work on.”

Dordevic said there's a common misconception that all good 400 runners can run the 300 hurdles, but in truth, the last barrier in the 300's is what separates the two events.

“It's just a mountain,” said Dordevic of the final hurdle. “It's just hard to get over because there's so much lactic acid in your legs. In the 400 there's more strategy, but the 300's it's about rhythm and speed. About 270 meters in (the 300's) you really start to feel it, and you have to make sure you're clean over that last hurdle because that's where people trip up and fall. You don't want to be one of those. You don't want to be one of those eighth-place finishers at the end of the day.”

Tarek Wirfs won the javelin (179-03) Braden Nelson was second (171-06) and Zachary Grubb was third (163-03). Kasin Pendergrass Anderson won the high jump (44-02) as a freshman. Hunter McGuirk placed second in the 800 (1:56), Joshua Sealand was second in the 3,000 (8:45), and Marcus Yoo cleared 6-00 in the high jump for silver.

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