The Laker Track Classic turned out to be just what Coach Eric Lider predicted - a classy invitational with a state meet kind of feel to it.
In fact, the field was so good that a strong Lake Oswego High School squad was able to take just one victory on Friday.
Thankfully, Tate Murray kept LO from being shut out of the victory column by taking a convincing win in the girls 1500 meters. The sophomore speedster held the lead the entire way, then poured it on down the stretch to win going away in a time of 5:03.31.
Murray is well on her way toward fulfilling the promise she showed by placing ninth at state in the 1500 as a freshman. She also took third place in the 3000 meters on Friday.
'Tate ran a very strong race,' Lider said. 'She ran the way we hoped she would.'
In perhaps the premier event of the cold, blustery afternoon, LO's defending state champion Elijah Greer was defeated in his duel with Franklin's Bryce Burgess in the boys 1500 meters. Greer clocked in at 4:13.92, while Burgess, the state 6A cross country champion, won in 4:12.56.
'Elijah ran strong, but he hasn't had a chance to compete this year due to some nagging injuries,' Lider said. 'In the last 200 meters he left too much of a margin to make up. But that is an easily correctable mistake.'
On the boys side, highlights for the Lakers included a two-three finish by a pair of juniors in the 300 intermediate hurdles, James Ratliff (41.34) and Micah Hatfield (41.51).
'They were solid,' Lider said. 'Those guys are definitely a force.'
The Laker coach was also pleased to see senior Chris Cardwell take third in the 3000 meters in 9:38.67.
Lider said, 'It was fun to see Chris up there with the leaders and to compete as hard as he did.'
For sheer quality you couldn't beat the boys 4 by 400 meter relay, in which the top four finishes were the top four times in Oregon this season. Lake Oswego took fourth in 3:28.40 with the quartet of Paul Hoard, Ratliff, Greer and Hatfield. The winning team of Benson set a new meet record in the event in 3:24.98.
For the lady Lakers, there were big moments in the 800 meters from Lauren Ohlson and Latane Cox, who finished two-three, right on the heels of winner Amy Jones of McNary. Jones clocked 2:24.25, while Ohlson ran a 2:24.64 and Cox was just .1 behind at 2:24.65.
Other second place finishes came from sophomore Jacqui Wallis in the 400 meters (1:00.90) and senior Shannon Reader in the shot put (34-00.5).
'That was Jacqui's first 400 of the year,' Lider said. 'She's already 2 seconds ahead of last year.
'Shannon set a personal record. She's just learning that event. She's a rookie.'
Lider also had high praise for Gina Contilini, who scored points in the pole vault, long jump and triple jump, and Cali Reis proved to be a fast and durable sophomore, scoring points in the 100 meters, 200 meters, high hurdles, and running a leg on the 4 by 100 relay team.
The Laker spikers get to rest up a bit before having a flurry of meets in late April. They host Clackamas on April 23, go to the Cotton Invitational on April 25, compete in the 44th Centennial Invitational on April 26, and host Lakeridge on April 30.
For all Laker Track Classic results, go to www.athletic.net.