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Gresham looks to regain top spot in track

GIRLS TRACK PREVIEW - Gophers bring a dynamic duo to the track this spring
by: file photo Gresham's Ify Onyima missed the state title in the 200 last season by .05 hundredths.

The offseason OSAA realignment leaves a wide-open chase for the Mount Hood Conference girls track title this spring with Sandy and Hood River, two of last year's top three teams, moving down to the 5A level this year. Defending MHC champ Sandy should be a force capable of challenging four-time champ Summit in the lower classification.

That leaves last year's district runner-up Gresham as the team to beat in 2011 with its talented 1-2 punch in junior sprinter Ify Onyima and sophomore all-around athlete Haley Crouser. Still, contenders abound most likely in Saint Mary's if it can find some parts to add to its elite distance-running crew, and Barlow who brings enough depth to cover all 17 events with scoring threats.

GRESHAM

• Oniyma is a state contender in the sprints, coming up just .05 hundredths short of Westview's Dominique Keel in last year's 200-meter final. Oniyma struggled to hit form last season, while battling a hip flexor injury.

'We were lucky to even have her at the district meet,' Gophers' coach Chris Koenig said. 'She has the tools to generate a lot of power and speed.'

During the off-season, she hit the weight room and put up 325 pounds on the squat, Koenig said.

Oniyma also reached the 6A finals in the 100.

Crouser is the team's 'do anything' athlete, winning district titles in the high hurdles and javelin, while taking second in the long jump as a freshman. She went on to score 15 points at state, winning the javelin by a comfortable 15 feet.

'We can move her all around the place from the jumps, to running events to the throws. About the only place you won't find her is in the 3,000,' Koenig said. 'She's much stronger this year, and you can really see a difference. We're going to error on the side of caution and not over use her too much.'

Previews for the other four East County schools appear in the March 23 edition of The Outlook.