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Prep Watch

by: jonathan house, Three members of the St. Mary's 4x400-meter relay team -- (from left) Paige Rice, Chiara Chandlee and Julia Read -- bask in their first-place finish, which catapulted the Blues to the 6A title.

The St. Mary's Academy track and field team made history Saturday, claiming the school's first state title.

The Blues won the Class 6A girls championship at Eugene's Hayward Field on the strength of four first-place finishes and points in two other events.

St. Mary's clinched the crown by winning the final event, the 4x400-meter relay. The 10 points in that race gave the Blues a total of 50 points, lifting them over South Eugene (47), Gresham (45) and McMinnville (45).

Sophomore Paige Rice led the Blues with victories in the 3,000 on Friday and 1,500 on Saturday. She also ran in the No. 2 spot on the decisive final relay.

"Our goal coming into the meet was to come home with hardware," St. Mary's coach Mike Bojorquez says, of winning a trophy as a top-four team. "The championship started to come into view after we won the 400-meter relay and Paige won the 1,500."

Junior Maddie Kath led off the 4x100 relay squad, with seniors Carly Januzzi, Julia Read and anchor Zoie Sheng also part of the crew that ran 48.76 seconds in the finals to nip Barlow (48.86) and others.

The Blues collected eight points in the pole vault, as senior Elizabeth King took runner-up points, and got two points from Januzzi, who finished seventh in the 400. King cleared 10 feet, 9 inches and beat two others who made that height on the basis of her fewer misses.

"Huge points from Elizabeth, and Carly in the open 400 helped a ton," Bojorquez says.

Still, it came down to the final four laps with the baton at the historic venue.

"The 4x400 team was on a mission to win that race, having been nipped at the end of the race at last year's state meet," Bojorquez says, recalling a second-place finish by .02 to Roseburg.

Sophomore Chiara Chandlee was the Blues' leadoff runner on Saturday. Then came Rice, Read and Januzzi. Their winning time of 3:51.59 was nearly six seconds better than that of runner-up Lincoln. McMinnville finished third.

"Winning the team title was huge for our girls, the track program and the school," Bojorquez says. "I'm very proud of the effort of our team and coaches. This was truly an amazing season."

In Friday's 3,000, Rice clocked 9:49.77 for a victory by nearly two seconds. Her 1,500 time on Saturday of 4:31.99 gave her about a one-second margin. Two South Eugene runners placed second and third in both events.

"Coming into this meet, I was definitely aiming for the wins, but I didn't come in expecting them," she says. "I was confident I could pull it off, but knew it wasn't going to be easy. I had put in the work, now it was a matter of putting up a performance that reflected my efforts."

In November, Rice had edged two of the South Eugene runners -- one by one second -- to win the 6A girls cross-country title at Eugene's Lane Community College.

"Sophomore year will definitely be a hard one to top," Rice says. "Cross-country went so well, and then to follow that with the state meet we just had, it will surely be a year to remember.

"My team and I have just worked so hard this year -- countless minutes of tough tempo, hundreds of meters of sharpening speed work and far too many freezing cold ice baths have all led to these wins. Hopefully these victories will simply set the stage to the rest of my high school career."

n Also in the 6A girls meet, Grant placed 13th with 24 points, and Lincoln was 15th with 21. Grant's top finishers included: Piper Donaghu, third in the 800; Parkes Kendrick, fourth in the 1,500, and Miro Merrill, fifth in the pole vault. Lincoln's Tess Michaelson was second in the 800.

n Cleveland's girls were the PIL's top finisher in the 5A meet. The Warriors took 15th place with 15 points. Rachael Gernhart took second in the triple jump, Emma Wren ran seventh in the 3,000 and eighth in the 1,500, Bryn McKillop took sixth in the 800, and Wren and McKillop both ran on the eighth-place long relay team. Summit won the 5A title with 106 points, and Sandy was second with 74.

n In 6A boys, Aloha claimed the title with 54 points, with Oregon City next at 44. Jesuit was sixth with 38, Lincoln 10th with 28, Grant 13th with 22 and Central Catholic 24th with 10.

Lincoln's Alex Sattley won the long and triple jumps and was fourth in the high jump. Grant's Nate Halvorson captured the 400, and teammate Chance Whitehurst placed second in the triple jump, 3/4 of an inch behind Sattley.

Central Catholic's Alex Balducci finished fourth in the shot put.

n Jesuit swept the 6A pole vaults, with Jill Doyle (11-6) winning the girls event and Dylan Johnson (15-3) taking the boys title.

n Franklin's boys paced PIL teams in the 5A standings with 20 points, good for 12th. Fletcher Hazlehurst was third in the 1,500 and fourth in the 3,000, Jackson Packham took fifth in the 800, Jackson Baker ran sixth in the 3,000 and Michael Aker seventh in the shot.

Baseball

n The Wilson Trojans (22-8) will play the Summit Storm (25-5) for the 5A title at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Keizer's Volcanoes Stadium.

Wilson rallied from a 7-1 deficit in a 9-7 quarterfinal win at Pendleton on May 25, then beat visiting Bend 3-2 in 10 innings in Tuesday's semifinals.

"We've been playing hard, we haven't given up," Wilson coach Mike Clopton says. "We've worked hard in practice.

"The kids are excited to be (in the championship game), but realize that there's a responsibility and you've got to play well if you want to win it."

Clopton also gives credit to sports psychologist Brian Baxter, who has worked with the PIL 5A champion Trojans.

"The things he said about routine and 'controllables' and breathing and so forth are so critical to the game," Clopton says, "and the kids have bought into that, and that's what causes them to be patient. They've just kept plugging along and trying to stay in the moment and see what happens. Both times (quarterfinals and semis) we were fortunate to come out on top."