Sunset's boys back up their regular season by winning the district meet
by: Miles Vance STILL GOING — Sunset’s Eric Zechenelly hit the last hurdle but still won the district title on Friday.

ALOHA - Sunset's boys track team made believers out of the rest of the Metro League during the regular season.

But the Apollos, despite going undefeated in six dual meets, knew there were still doubts about their ability to win the big one - the Metro district meet, held May 11 and Friday at Aloha High School.

Those doubts, however, are officially history.

Sunset backed up its great regular season with a great district meet performance, winning seven of the meet's 17 events and piling up 144 points to edge past second-place Aloha's 129 and Jesuit's 114.

The Apollos built their victory on the track (where Branden Helms and Aaron Back both went 1-3 in their two individual events), in the relays (where the Apollos won both races), and in the field (where Rocky Tufty won the high jump and Alex Lou the pole vault).

After his win in the 400 meters, Helms encapsulated how his entire team felt at the end of the day.

'I feel great,' Helms said after running 49.29 seconds in the 400, with teammate Briley Beaton second at 49.51. 'The 400's a monster - it always tires me out - but I've got two medals so far so I'm feeling good.'

His 'other' first-place medal came in Friday's first final, the 4 x 400 relay, where Helms teamed with Alan Bell, Ian Banks-Clark and Reggie Coulter to win in 42.32. He came back later in the meet to take third in the 200 at 21.77.

'I'm feeling pretty good (about state),' Helms added. 'I've been down to state once so I kind of have the experience and I can know what to expect. I think I can go pretty fast.'

But Sunset had a ton of other highlights too, with Back racing to victory in the 1500 at 4:07.66, and taking third in the May 11 3000 with a mark of 8:48.83.

Sunset's other wins came from: the 4 x 400 relay team of Eric Zechenelly, Bell, Beaton and Banks-Clark at 3:23.65; Tufty, a junior, in the high jump at 6 feet; Lou, a junior, in the pole vault at 13-4; and Zechenelly, a sophomore, in the intermediate hurdles at 39.12.

While Zechenelly's time was not a PR - his best this year is 39.01 - both would be the top two marks in the state this season, a fact that has Zechenelly expecting great things at state.

'It was great. It was awesome,' Zechenelly said of his win. 'I'm going to try to go for No. 1 (at state). I'm going to go for a sub-38.'

In addition to all those wins, Sunset also got third-place finishes from Coulter in the 100 at 11.0, Bell in the intermediate hurdles at 39.95, and Tyler Schultz in the javelin at 165 feet.

The Class 6A state track meet is set for Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene.

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