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Runners make the best of salvaged season

District marks could fall in half a dozen events at PIL championships

A sunny pair of days could help set numerous meet records during the PIL track and field championships today and Thursday at Marshall High School.

The boys' marks for 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meters could easily fall, as could the girls' records in the 100, 200 and both relays.

Coaches and competitors are hoping that any new records won't be the last set in Portland Interscholastic League competitions for a while. Voting on school funding Measure 26-48 concludes tonight.

Supporters of athletics raised more than $500,000 this winter to save the spring sports season, which has seen all-time state bests set by both boys and girls track athletes in the PIL. Few of the people who did the fund raising want to have to generate more than $2 million to save next season's athletics program.

'It's been a pretty interesting spring,' Grant track coach Greg Cotton says. 'Hopefully, we'll be guaranteed another year by the time the meet ends on Thursday.'

Grant, Benson and Wilson should battle for the boys district title this week. The Generals, the defending champions, feature strong distance runners in seniors Joaquin Chapa and Alec Wall and junior Scott Wall, Alec's brother.

Chapa is looking to qualify for the state meet in the 800 and 1,500. He might be the favorite in the 800, even though state leader Mike McGrath of Lincoln is running in the event. McGrath will be running in the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday and has said he only wants to qualify for state, which he would do by finishing first or second.

Chapa has run 1 minute, 54 seconds in the 800 and 3:56 in the 1,500 on the same day, which puts him near the district record for both events. Alec Wall will be running the 1,500 and 3,000.

Wilson's hopes for capturing the boys team title should come from winning many of this year's less glamorous events, such as the discus and pole vault.

'Wilson has the quiet points,' Benson coach Leon McKenzie says, 'but they can score a lot of them.'

In girls events, Benson senior Deborah Jones will skip the 400 and compete in the 100, 200 and both relays, McKenzie says. Jones will be aiming for records in all four events. Benson already has set the all-time state best in the 4x100 relay this season.

Cleveland junior Olivia Bender, the district cross country champion, should get a strong battle from Grant sophomore Annaliese Chapa in the 1,500. Chapa also will run the 800, another event in which the district record could fall.

Benson is the overwhelming girls team favorite.