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Crusaders are two times as good

Jesuit's girls win a second straight state title by doubling up Gresham
by: Miles Vance FAST FINISHERS — Jesuit senior Garmai Gorlorwulu (center) runs to victory in the 100-meter high hurdles while flanked by Mackenzie Spencer and Maliea Luquin.

EUGENE - There was nothing and nobody - and certainly no other team - that was going to stop Jesuit at state.

The Crusaders girls track and field team entered last weekend's Class 6A state meet as prohibitive favorites, and over the two days of competition at Hayward Field on Friday and Saturday, Jesuit did absolutely nothing to dispel that notion.

The Crusaders - already Metro League dual meet and Metro district champs - won three events at state, notched 15 top-eight finishes, and ran away with the team title for the second straight year and for the third time in four seasons. Jesuit finished the Class 6A state meet with 96 points, good enough to double the output of runner-up Gresham (48 points), and marking the

highest state-meet point total since Benson scored 100 in the midst of its six-year state title string in 2002.

'We are definitely very excited,' said senior Annamarie Maag, a cornerstone of all three of the Crusaders' championship teams. 'Everyone really performed to the best of their abilities today and that's just what we needed. Everyone really pulled through.'

'We really worked as a team throughout the season,' said senior Jacki Ritacco, a member of both Jesuit relay teams and also a state qualifier in the 100 meters. 'It's definitely been an exciting journey.'

'It's just really nice to be able to come in here and have this experience,' added sophomore Olivia Artaiz, who took fifth in the 800 and also ran on Jesuit's 4 x 400 relay. 'I can't wait for the years to come. It makes it all worth it.'

While the rest of the state's best teams took turns winning events and beating up on each other - besides Jesuit, only McMinnville won more than one event - the Crusaders just kept on scoring, kept on racking up points, and kept on moving ever closer to a second straight state championship.

Senior thrower Elizabeth Brenner closed out her storied Jesuit career in style, taking second in Friday's javelin competition with a throw of 154 feet, 3 inches (Gresham star Haley Crouser won the event at 169-7), then coming back Saturday to defend her 2010 state title in the shot put with a winning throw of 45-4 (with Crouser second at 43-11.75).

'I'm definitely very happy with how this year has gone,' said Brenner, who also won a state title this year in basketball and finished second in volleyball. 'I definitely came into shot pretty confident, but I stepped up and threw really well. I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my four years.'

Jesuit got its second win from another senior defending a 2010 state crown - this one from Garmai Gorlorwulu in the 100 high hurdles. Gorlorwulu, already a league champ in the tough-as-nails Metro League, backed up her regular-season success by running Oregon's best time (14.22) to win the 6A state title for the second straight year.

'I'm just glad I was able to come back faster and be able to defend my title,' Gorlorwulu said. 'I was really nervous but I was just so focused on finishing and not having anyone in front of me.'

Even better, as far as Jesuit's team total hopes were concerned, junior teammate Mackenzie Mathews took second at 14.68.

'I'm happy with what I did,' Mathews said. 'We're trying to grab points wherever we can, so I'm just glad me and Mai were up there together. I'm so happy and I'm so proud Mai won. She deserves everything.'

'It was just a question of who was going to be (first) and who was going to be (second),' Gorlorwulu added with a laugh.

Junior Jill Doyle was Jesuit's other event winner, clearing a season's-best height of 12-4 to win the pole vault, then coming up just short in her three shots at what would have been a state-meet record height of 12-8.

'Everything just came together. Everything just kind of came together all at once,' Doyle said in explaining her state title. 'It was a good day.'

While that marked the end of Jesuit's individual wins, the Crusaders still scored points in bunches elsewhere at the state championships.

Maag, a three-time state cross country champ and three-time winner at state track - twice in the 3000 and once in the 1500 - played a big part in her team's state championship, racing to second in Friday's 3000 with a time of 10:08.58 (South Eugene's Erin Clark won at 10:06.63), and to third in Saturday's 1500 at 4:37.78 (Tigard's Kelsi Schaer was first at 4:37.03).

'The 3K wasn't really what I hoped for but everyone has off days,' she said. 'You've got to expect that as a runner. But I was proud of myself today for competing and picking myself back up.'

Other top finishers for Jesuit were: Mathews, second in the 300 intermediate hurdles at 45.56; senior Payton Schutte, third in the 3000 at 10:10.61 and sixth in the 1500 at 4:42.38; Artaiz, fifth in the 800 at 2:19.67; Adrienne Demaree, fifth in the 3000 at 10:33.21; Sierra Arlauskas, fifth in the triple jump at 36-05.75; the 4 x 100 team of Gorlorwulu, Doyle, Ritacco and Mathews, fifth at 48.82; and the 4 x 400 team of Megan Mullaney, Maag, Artaiz and Ritacco, sixth at 4:01.27.

'We have such a deep team, and knowing that there's someone there to take your place if you need it is just the best feeling,' Mullaney said. 'I couldn't be happier than being surrounded by my teammates,' Maag said. 'It's just kind of the cherry on top of the cake.'