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Vail races into elite cast for state 1,500

The crowded field of elite prep distance runners got a little more crowded Wednesday when Centennial junior Ryan Vail won the 1,500 meters at the Mount Hood Conference track and field meet.

Vail, who didn't qualify for the state meet in the event last year, went from third to first on the final lap and finished in 3 minutes, 54.85 seconds, a district meet record.

He passed Central Catholic junior Galen Rupp on the homestretch and set a personal record by eight seconds.

'It feels great to win,' said Vail, who finished second to Rupp in the 3,000 on Tuesday. 'I definitely feel like I can run faster. I think I'm getting a lot closer to those other guys in terms of competitiveness.'

The field for the state meet, set for May 30-31 at the University of Oregon, is likely to include Klamath Union senior Lauren Jespersen, the defending state champion, as well as Grant seniors Alec Wall and Joaquin Chapa, all of whom seem capable of running faster than 3:50.49, the meet record that Jespersen set last year.

Among the other meet highlights, the distance crew from St. Mary's Academy finished 1-2-3 in the 3,000, led by junior Kate Lilley's winning time of 10:31.85. Sophomore Brooke Palmer was second, followed by freshman Anne Murphy-Hagan.

David Douglas senior Ashley Quay won the long jump at 18 feet, 3 1/2 inches. Junior Dannie Dollens, also of David Douglas, was second at 17-1 1/2. Only four jumpers went farther at the state meet last year.

BASEBALL: Senior Kevin Gunderson earned a save on Monday, two days after pitching a no-hitter for Central Catholic, which won the Mount Hood title with a 9-6 victory over David Douglas at Sckavone Field.

The Rams' hopes in the state playoffs will rest on Gunderson and sophomore T.J. Millspaugh, the team's other starting pitcher.

Knowing that Southridge won last year's state title, despite being the No. 4 seed from the Metro League, will maintain the hopes of every playoff team.

The Rams play host to a game Monday afternoon against either Cleveland or Putnam. Those teams play today at Putnam. Portland Interscholastic League champion Grant plays host Monday to the winner of today's David Douglas at Pendleton game.

Rivalry central on Monday should be at the University of Portland, where Lincoln plays Jesuit at 1 p.m.

Notes: At least one PIL golfer suffered through the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' Tuesday at the Class 4A boys state championship. Cleveland senior Nick Blatner hit his tee shot on a par 3 directly into the cup, but the ball bounced out and rolled 10 feet away. On another hole, an off-course shot got stuck in a tree, forcing him to take a penalty stroke. The Warriors, who were hoping to finish in the top 10, finished last among 18 teams for the second straight year. Cleveland golfers celebrated for a moment when they thought they had tied for 17th, but then settled into the realization that they were last Ñ by one stroke. 'At least we can laugh about it for now,' said junior Mark Howe. 'But this definitely is not going to happen again next year.' É David Douglas junior Vincent Johnson, second two years ago, tied for third this time. É Lincoln senior Cassie Castleman said finishing fourth in the girls 4A tournament was small consolation after winning last year. 'Once you win, nothing else really matters,' she said. 'But at least my team did well.' Lincoln moved up from 17th last year to 10th this time and was just four strokes from tying for seventh.