Sunset beats Jesuit's boys 78-67, and in the process, wins the 2011 Metro dual-meet crown and end Jesuit's seven-year stranglehold on the league title
by: Miles Vance MOVE IT — Sunset's Daniel Helm (shown here against Aloha earlier this year) helped the Apollos beat Jesuit last week and win the Metro League title at 6-0.

BEAVERTON - It had been seven long years for the Sunset boys track and field team.

Though regularly one of the Metro League's best teams, the Apollos hadn't won a league championship since back in 2003 when Chris Thornton and Mike Everson paced Sunset to an unbeaten Metro dual-meet season.

In the interim, it had been Jesuit's boys atop the league standings for seven straight seasons. And when the 2011 Apollos closed in on this year's Metro title, it was - appropriately perhaps - the Crusaders who stood in the way once again.

But this time, Sunset broke through. The Apollos, facing the Crusaders at Jesuit High School on May 4, stepped up to win 11 of the day's 17 events and escaped with a 78-67 victory and an unbeaten dual-meet run. Sunset finished the 2011 Metro campaign at 6-0, while Jesuit ended at 4-2.

'The guys were excited, but also realized that the win is just another step towards reaching a goal they set for themselves back in December,' said Sunset coach Kevin Landon. 'We knew we would have to have a good day to win, and our guys went out and took care of business.'

'A tip of the hat to Sunset. They did what they had to do,' said Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger. 'It was a great high school meet. I'm just glad we were able to make it exciting.'

Sunset followed the lead of seniors Aaron Back and Branden Helms in forging its win over the Crusaders, with Back racing to victory in the 1500 and 3000 meters, and Helms setting the pace in the 200 and 400. Back took the 1500 at 4 minutes, 8.55 seconds, then came back to win the 300 at 9:00.37. Helms topped the 400 at 49.89, and later won the 200 at 21.80.

The Apollos also got wins from: Reggie Coulter in the 100 (at 11.25); Eric Zechenelly in the 300 intermediate hurdles (at 39.01); the 4 x 100 team of Zechenelly, Helms, Alan Bell and Briley Beaton at 3:25.63; the 4 x 400 relay team of Bell, Helms, Ian Banks-Clark and Coulter at 42.88; Stephen Hordes in the discus at 121 feet, 5 inches; Tyler Schultz in the javelin at 165-3; and Rocky Tufty in the high jump at 6-2.

'We believe every team point is key in beating a good team like Jesuit, but Aaron Back winning the 1500 and 3000 was instrumental,' Landon said. 'There were also clutch wins from Tyler Schultz in the javelin and Stephen Hordes in the discus that were key.'

That said, Jesuit didn't go down without a fight. The Crusaders answered with victories from Jack Hagler in the 800 (at 2:00.52), Ryan Cope in the high hurdles (at 15.06), Sean Alvey in the shot put at (45-3.50), Dylan Johnson in the pole vault (at 13-0), Xavier Coleman in the long jump (at 21-4), and Miles Weatheroy in the triple jump (at 43-4).

Further, the Crusaders swept the 800 and went 1-2 in the long jump, and also finished second in 11 events overall to just six for the Apollos. Indeed, the difference in the final score was so small, it very easily could have turned in Jesuit's favor. Rothenberger mentioned that Braden Nelson and Soren Cullivan stood at first and second in the javelin - had they finished there, Jesuit would have won the meet - until Sunset's Tyler Schultz broke through on his final throw.

'We knew it would be tough on the track, and we knew we'd have to step up in the field events,' Rothenberger said. 'It came down to just a couple of events that were the difference in the meet.'

Both teams opened the Metro League district meet at Aloha High School yesterday (Wednesday), and will conclude that meet beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, also at Aloha.

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