Beaverton senior shakes off elbow injury

A pair of defending state champions handled their business in a workman-like way at the Metro League Championships, and a surprising newcomer in the 1,500 crashed the district party on Friday afternoon.

The 2012 1,500-meter 6A State Champ Dan Oekerman breezed to wins in the 1,500 (4:00.36) and 3,000 (8:41) for Beaverton to protect district crowns in both events. Westview's Alec Smith, the defending Metro 800-meter champ, held onto the crown for his senior season by running a 1:53.07.

Oekerman said the goal was to seal state berths in the 1,500 and 3,000 with as little energy as possible. He carried out his plan and leaned on a trusty charge with 300 meters remaining to disengage the 1,500 pack.

“I try to make a hard move at the 300 mark to get separation and so no one can go with me,” said Oekerman. "I was feeling pretty good with a lap to go and felt good making the move. I felt strong."

Sporting an Allen Iverson-like elbow pad on his right elbow after breaking the appendage the day before Centennial Invitational, Oekerman ran pain-free and avoided any unnecessary bumps or cracks from his opponents by getting ahead of the field.

“At first it was pretty painful, but I've learned how to manage it," he said. "I decided not to cast it so I could still run this year, but moving forward, it's not going to affect me that much. I feel like I can contend for both state titles. The goal at the start of this school year was to win state in cross country, the 1,500 (in track) and 3,000. I got second in cross country so I'm hoping I can finish out the last two.”

Jesuit's Hunter McGuirk tried to pass Smith at the start of the second lap, but the Wildcat merely moved away stride by stride over the final 400. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Westview Highs Alec Smith, seen here running at Beaverton High on May 2, won the 800 meter dash at the Metro League Distirict Championships on Friday.

“I was really confident but I respect my opponents," said Smith. "I had a Jesuit guy coming up on me the first lap, but I was able to turn it on and keep going.

“A lot of times when I'm up in the front, I can't maintain pace very well, that's one thing I need to work on, but another person helps me push myself along because I know I have more in the tank to kick some more.”

Smith is also the reigning 2012 state titlist in the 800, but said he relishes the role of being the hunted when he walks into Hayward Field on Friday. In his Westview curtain call season, Smith hasn't lost a race yet despite being the target of seemingly every middle distance runner on the 6A scene.

“I'm better under pressure. I tend to do a lot better under pressure, it's easier to get my mind in the right place,” said Smith. “This year the race is a lot faster. We have three or four guys running in the 1:54.”

Recently, Westview's Matthew Kingzet's kick with 200 meters to go has gotten great results in both long distance races, but on Friday in the 1,500, he extended out to a 400-meter launch and scampered past a pair of perplexed runners for his first career silver medal. The senior outkicked Jesuit's Joshua Sealand, who had the second best personal record in the district before Friday, for the upset win.

“That was a really good race for me,” said Kingzet. “I ran pretty hard, got a huge PR, and coming off a great race on Wednesday (third place in the 3,000) it felt good to have another good one. I'm definitely peaking right now. Before this race I was running a nine-minute flat for the 3K and 4:10's in the 1,500, so I've dropped quite a bit of time for Metro, so it's pretty exciting.”

Beaverton's Matthew Kim was right on the heels of Jesuit's Xavier Coleman, taking second place in the 100 (11.15), 200 (22.52) and 4 x 100 relay (42.79). Beaver anchor Ross Hoffman almost caught the Crusader relay team with a hurried anchor leg but was just hundreths of a second away from first place.

Sunset's Eric Zechenelly had a stellar day on Friday, winning the 400 (49.32) and taking second in the 300 hurdles (38.19). Apollo sophomore Joe Riedl was second in the triple jump at districts (42-09), and A.J. Smith was second in the 110 hurdles (15.06). Aloha's Jadden Lake is going to be right in the hunt for a 6A State Championship after winning districts by clearing 6-05 in the high jump. Lake's leap is fifth-best in all of 6A.

Southridge was paced by pole vaulter Adam Garske, who held off Beaverton's Brian Christensen for first place (13-10). Skyhawk jumpers Royal Black and Jordan Morgan are both going to Hayward after taking first and second in the long jump.

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