Freshman brushes aside nerves for gold

All it takes is one.

The bullseye was squarely on the back of Hadley Wilhoite in the 6A state championship triple jump final on Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene. Because the Jesuit freshman held the best triple jump mark in the state for a majority of the season, she was the focus of each competitor who descended on the Hayward Field sand pit, looking to make a name for themselves.

The combative pressure was more than Wilhoite imagined, but she was well-aware that six great jumps weren't called for.

Wilhoite just needed one good hop into the pit for a state title, and on her fifth attempt, that legendary leap popped up. Whipping towards the sand, Wilhoite hopped, skipped and jumped 37-08.75, turned around, saw the mark and threw her hands up in exultation.

“Before that my jumps had been OK, but I wasn't on the board, and then as soon as I hit, it I was like 'Oh this is going to be a good one',” remembered Wilhoite. “I heard everybody cheering. It felt good, and I hopped up, and there it was. When it was the one, I was so excited. It just felt awesome to get that one out there.”

The mark held up through the final flight of jumpers, giving Wilhoite a state championship as a freshman — the only individual title the Crusaders' girls team won at state. As a team, Jesuit finished fourth with 44 points. by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHNATHAN HOUSE  - Jesuit freshman Hadley Wilhoite competes in the long jump competition Friday at the Class 6A state meet. Wilhoite triumphed in Saturdays triple jump event.

“It was crazy coming in here, knowing I had a shot at placing and knowing that I'd made it here was more than I expected at the beginning of the season,” said Wilhoite who also took sixth in the long jump. “To be here and do well, I was so happy. It's nice to come here and have the opportunity. It's a great meet.”

Sophomore Alexa Dixon just about gave Jesuit another individual championship in the 200, taking Sunset's Taylor Coon toe-to-toe until the 10-meter mark, when Coon pushed ahead for the narrow win. Seeded fifth after the 200 prelims, Dixon dethroned three highly ranked sprinters and nearly wore the crown with a 25.27 silver medal.

“I wasn't expecting to get second, I PR'd and I got to race Taylor, who is super fast, so it was just cool to race with her,” said Dixon. “It's really fun racing against her, so hopefully we can race again here next year.” by: TIMES PHOTO: JOHNATHAN HOUSE  - Jesuit sprinter Alexa Dixon gave Sunsets Taylor Coon everything she could muster and took second place in the 200 at the 6A State Championships.

Dixon's been working on getting out of the blocks quicker. On Saturday, the sophomore discharged away from the start and crushed the curve to set up the close finish with Coon.

“I was pretty pleased with my finish, and I tried to maintain my speed. I was really happy with the result,” said Dixon, who was also fifth in the 100. “I knew it was going to be close going in, and I just wanted to race as hard as I could.”

Sophomore Chloe Smith paced herself for a strong finish, so though the Crusader was sitting in last place coming down the last 100 meters, the sophomore uncoiled her lengthy frame and gravitated across the finish line for fourth place. Smith's 57.73 was a personal record and anchored by a well-fortified kick.

“I just really didn't want to get last. I hate losing, so I started sprinting at the end,” said Smith. “I did that in the prelims too, so it's kind of my thing. I was seeded eighth coming in, so I wasn't expecting this.”

Smith thinks she has the capacity to train more, get her endurance levels up and take a shot at Lincoln's Tess Michaelson before next season. Michaelson won state on Saturday with a 56.20 and will be back as a senior in the Metro League.

“My stride is really long, Tess' is short, but she's really fast, so I'm trying to aim for that,” said Smith. “I think I can get a lot better by running more 500's and 800's in practice.”

Abby Wachter said she was happy but not satisfied with her fourth place in the 300 hurdles and eighth in the 110's because she was seeded highly in the 300's. The junior figured she'd accept the 44.98 because it wasn't far off her career best and it was her first time ever in the state finals. The girls who placed above Wachter all peaked at the opportune moment and ran ideal times. Normally an express train sprinting down the last 100 meters toward the final hurdle, Wachter alleged she didn't have as much staying power. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Abby Wachter took eighth in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles at the 6A State Championships on Saturday.

“Coming down that straightaway is usually when I turn it on, but I didn't have as much as I usually do,” said Wachter. “I went in there doing my best and trying to score points for the team. There wasn't a lot of time to recover in-between the 100's and the 300's, but my coach just said, 'Go do what you do.' I didn't run as fast, but I'll take it.”

With another season to go in 2014, Wachter said she was glad to get state experience. Now Wachter knows how to prepare for it next year and plans on starting her training even earlier in the winter. She also became closer with the rest of the Crusader girls' team, which made her junior season more pleasurable.

“The best part is training with those friends you make, which makes it so much better,” said Wachter. “I was excited to cheer on our team and see if we could pull out a trophy. That's probably better than winning, just being here with my team. A lot of kids come out who aren't even running, and it just makes it worth it.”

JoJo Ananouko was third in the javelin (131-06), and Jessica Finn took 13th (108-07). Claire Alexander placed eighth in the high jump (5-00), and Mariel Klein was 11th (4-10). Tarea Green threw 32-01 in the shot put for 13th place. Rachel Shaw was ninth in the pole vault (9-06). Dylan Hite ran the 3,000 in 10:36, and Megan Mullany rounded out the Crusaders' total with a 4:53 in the 1,500.