Sullivan finishes second
Little brother fails to place
Laura Sullivan just missed her ultimate track and field goal last weekend.
The Madras High School senior placed second in the girls OSAA Class 4A state championship high jump competition held at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field for the second consecutive year.
"It was bittersweet emotions," MHS head track coach Donnie Alire said. "Laura has worked so hard and knows she could have done it, but she just came up short."
Sullivan, who cleared 5 feet, 4 inches last year in the state championship meet, topped out at 5-0 last Friday for second place, behind Elizabeth Venzon of Hidden Valley, who won with a mark of 5-4.
"Her steps were right, but I'm not really sure what happened," Alire said of Sullivan. "She had family fly in to watch and the crowd was huge, so maybe nerves."
Sullivan capped a season in which she won nine times in the event, up from six victories her junior year, including a Tri-Valley Conference district championship victory prior to the state meet with a leap of 5-2.
"I know she is down at the moment, but this is a small piece of what Laura will do in life," Alire said. "She is a tremendous kid that will succeed in life and I hope she can look back some day and have a good memory."
Sullivan, whose best mark this season was 5-4 and who has a career best mark of 5-5, tied Amy Hilger of Banks and Kelsa Northrup of Brookings-Harbor at 5-0, but Sullivan cleared 5-0 on the first of three allowed attempts, while the others did not, handing second place to Sullivan.
"Laura has come a long ways in the high jump," Alire said. "She really struggled to clear 5-0 her freshman year, but that became a starting point for her this year. Unfortunately, things just didn't go exactly how we planned last weekend."
For finishing second, Sullivan earned Madras eight team points and that placed the White Buffalos 22nd overall. Gladstone won the team championship with 65.5 points, ahead of Molalla (55).
Sullivan's younger brother Brent was the only other White Buffalo qualified for the state meet. The freshman earned a spot in the 4A boys high jump with a mark of 5-10 for second place at the TVC district championship meet.
Brent Sullivan, however, was unable to clear 5-10 - the starting point at the state meet in his three attempts and failed to place.
"I think nerves overwhelmed Brent, as he was really focused on the environment of it all," Alire said with a laugh. "He looked around at the crowd and said several times `What am I doing here.'"
Sullivan was one of five high jumpers who failed to clear 5-10 and sophomore Wyatt Cunningham of North Bend won the high jump title with a mark of 6-4.
"I think Brent was disappointed, but the main thing as a freshman is to get there and to experience it," Alire said. "Hayward Field is an incredible sight to see and those that compete there for the first time often struggle with nerves."
Of the 13 high jumpers qualified for the 4A boys high jump, Sullivan was the only freshman.
"I have no doubts Brent will be back," Alire said. "He learned a lot and was able to see what his sister accomplished with hard work."
On the boys' side, La Pine (48) edged out North Valley (46) and Newport (44) for the team championship.