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Lewis and Araya look to chase down small-school track titles

TRACK AND FIELD PREVIEW - Damascus will be hard-pressed to keep state run alive
by: David Ball, Portland Lutheran's Abel Araya, left, is a top contender to win one of the distance titles at this year's Class 2A state meet.

Change is the key word for small-school track in East County, as perennial Class 1A state contender Damascus Christian enters a rebuilding phase, while Portland Lutheran and Corbett adjust to new head coaches on the Class 2A level.

Still, a couple individuals should make noise at the small-school state meet at Western Oregon in a few months with Damascus junior Sean Lewis trying to repeat his four-title showing from a year ago, while Portland Lutheran distance runner Abel Araya should be in the mix for a Class 2A crown.

Following are previews of the three local track teams:

DAMASCUS

Damascus Christian has claimed five state titles in the last four years at the Class 1A level, sweeping both the boys and girls crowns in 2006.

The boys team has an outside chance of making it three state championships if Lewis can repeat his 40-point state effort from last season. He won the 100-and 200-meter sprints along with both hurdle races in 2007.

'He worked hard in the off-season and is looking even stronger,' Eagles' coach Kelly Holding said. 'He can go with both legs in the hurdles. He just has great rhythm to go along with that sprinter speed.'

He missed the state record (11.22) in the 100 by less than two-tenths of a second last year, which is held by his older brother Ryan Lewis.

The Damascus girls team won't be much of a factor this spring with only two athletes on the roster. The Eagles took a hit when Rebecca Holding went down with a knee injury during basketball season. She scored in four state events last season.

PORTLAND LUTHERAN

A pair of elite distance runners lead the Blue Jays' charge this spring and that suits new coach Tom Stein perfectly. Stein was a college distance runner at Long Beach State and has been a private coach and youth minister for the past 20 years. He spent five years at the head track coach at Carroll High School near Tacoma, Wash.

The boys team is anchored by junior Abel Araya, who finished fifth at the state cross country meet that combined schools in the Class 3A, 2A and 1A divisions. He is also the defending 1,500 and 3,000 district champion in track.

'He has already turned in some great times. He just has endless ability with good speed and a great stride,' Stein said.

The girls squad is paced by freshman Ali Brauer, who finished sixth in the state cross country meet and is expected to be a contender in the 1,500 and 3,000 this spring.

CORBETT

Junior Scott Nado leads Corbett after winning district titles in the 200 and 400 races last year. Senior teammate Adam Waldo gives the Cardinals a solid 1-2 punch in those events.

The girls team is led by senior sprinter Jessica Scott.

A lack of depth has kept the Cardinals from being a factor in the team tally in recent years. First-year coach Derek Davidson could not be reached in time for this preview.

A full preview was published in the Saturday, March 22, issue of The Outlook.