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Braves race to second place

Banks boys win three state championships and score 54 points to finish second overall at the OSAA state track and field meet

EUGENE - Banks' performance at the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships last weekend couldn't have gone any better if it was scripted by head coach Rob Frank.

In fact, the longtime Banks coach did script his team's performance in advance, and much to his excitement, the Braves came through with best-case finishes in every single event, helping the boys team hit Frank's predetermined target of 54 points and boosting the squad to a second-place finish, the best in school history.

'Before the state meet we sat down with the boys and talked about what we needed, and everything met our best expectations,' Frank said. 'We said the best-case scenario was 54 points, so let's shoot for that. For all of them to step up and do what we considered a best-case scenario, that was pretty special.'

Led by pole vault specialist Matt Hidalgo and sprinting stars Linus Norgren and Colby Seyferth, the Braves captured three individual state championships and added a trio of runner-up finishes at the state meet, which was held Friday and Saturday at historic Hayward Field in Eugene.

Hidalgo won his first career state title in the pole vault after finishing third last year. The senior sat out the early rounds of Friday's competition, doing standing backflips on the warm-up track while other competitors battled at lower heights. Hidalgo then stepped up and cleared his first attempt at 15 feet, 6 inches, launching him into first place.

When Newport junior Oshay Dunmore couldn't match that height, Hidalgo took three unsuccessful cracks at his personal record of 16 feet before packing up and accepting his state championship medal.

On Saturday, it was all about Norgren and Seyferth, who combined to take first or second place in three individual sprinting events and also ended the day running with fellow seniors Deven Murray and T.J. Sandstrom to a state championship in the 4x400 meter relay.

Seyferth started the day with a second-place finish in the 100 meters (11.20 seconds), losing out to Cowapa League rival Adonis Siscoe of Scappoose (11.00), who also went on to narrowly defeat Norgren in the 200 meter finals later in the day, running 22.19 to Norgren's 22.62.

Norgren did successfully defend his state title in the 400 meters, however, leading Seyferth to the tape with a time of 49.72. Seyferth finished second in 50.03, making it two years in a row that the Banks sprinters swept the top two spots in the 400.

Seyferth, Norgren, Sandstrom and Murray ended the day with a championship performance in the 4x400 relay, running 3:24.52 to narrowly edge a team from Philomath.

'Watching that final event, those four senior boys running that relay, that was one of the highlights of my career for sure,' Frank said.

Philomath won the Class 4A boys team championship with 60 points.

Over on the girls side, senior Jessica Markham had a hand in scoring 17 of Banks' 21 team points, good for a 12th-place overall finish.

Running a ridiculous schedule that included the 400 meters, the 300 low hurdles and both relay events, Markham wrapped up an amazing career with another strong showing at the state meet.

The Lady Braves' 4x100 relay team of Markham, Beatrix Norgren, Cassy Turner and Felicia Wilson kicked off the running finals on Saturday with a seventh-place finish in 51.71 seconds, and Banks' 4x400 relay team of Markham, Norgren, Amanda Reaser and Jennifer Hilger closed out the festivities with an eighth-place finish in 4:15.96.

Sandwiched in between the relays, Markham ran 59.28 to finish third in the girls 400 meters, and she posted a time of 46.22 to take second in the 300 hurdles.

'Jessica had to run all four events on both days. That's a lot to ask of a person and I was really impressed,' Frank said. 'She's done it before, but that's a really tough thing to do.'

Banks' other team points came from freshman Annie Victor, whose throw of 103 feet, 11 inches was good for fifth place in the girls discus.