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Gresham favored to win sixth straight title

MHC GIRLS TRACK PREVIEW - Sprinters give Gophers chance at Class 6A trophy
by: David Ball, Gresham junior sprinter Schavey Hill broke the district record in the 200-meter dash in 2006.

The Gresham girls track team is chasing a sixth-straight Mount Hood Conference championship this spring, after winning a tight three-team race to claim last year's title.

The return of four state qualifiers makes the Gophers a favorite to repeat this season, but several teams could challenge them again for the top spot on the awards stand.

'The Mount Hood Conference is one of the best in the state,' Barlow coach Sherry Gustafson said. 'A lot of meets are going to come down to the wire and be decided by a second-place here or a third-place there - it's not going to be easy.'

Following are previews of the five local teams:

- GRESHAM -

Once again, the sprint crew sets the tone for the Gophers with junior Schavey Hill and senior Lacey Muesec capable of many 1-2 sweeps this spring. Hill qualified for state in both sprints last year and set the district record (24.99 seconds) in the 200-meter race.

The Gophers add another first-place threat in the hurdles with junior Ali Mosher, who was district runner-up in the high hurdles last year. Junior Kelsey Franklin can break to the lead in the middle-distance events, while freshman Khalia Tidwell should make an impact in her first season at the longer races. She placed third at the state cross country meet.

Junior Kyra Speer gives the Gophers a spark on the runway as a scoring threat in the long jump and triple jump. She is also expected to take part in hurdles and relays. Teammate Kelsey Strot was district runner-up in the shot put and should supply plenty of points in the throwing events.

'We have a lot of those up front points, but our numbers are down and we're lacking some depth,' Gophers' coach Chris Koenig said. 'We'll really have to work for it in dual meets, fighting for those first-place points and getting anything else that we can.'

- BARLOW -

A disappointing 3-5 dual record left the Bruins in the middle of the pack last season, but the team hopes to return above the .500-mark this season behind a talented duo of jumpers. Seniors Danielle Ferguson and Becca Urbany should supply plenty of points on the runways after going 1-2 in last year's district triple jump.

'They certainly give us a big boost,' Gustafson said. 'They are both focused athletes, who grew up in club track together. They're competitive, but they're also able to give each other a pat on the back.'

- D. DOUGLAS -

David Douglas is led by senior Martha Hale, who came up a foot short of qualifying for state in all three throws last season. She went on to win the shot put title in Eugene and also placed ninth in the javelin.

'She's already throwing several feet ahead of where she was at this time last year,' Scots' co-coach Kiana Hanna said. 'She's been working hard in the weight room and is just a very determined athlete.'

Senior Irene Johnson leads the Scots on the track after winning both hurdle races at last year's district meet. Fellow senior Esther Robert is another first-place threat after reaching the district finals in the 200 and 400 last year.

- REYNOLDS -

The Raiders struggled to a last place finish at district in 2006, but hope to pass up a few teams behind several talented returners. Leading that charge is junior Kim Tune, who should score points in the jumps.

Tracie Wong leads the action on the track after reaching the district finals in the 400 as a sophomore. Asia Lawrence and Kandace Smith pace the distance crew.

'We have pretty good numbers, but we're a young team with a long of freshmen and sophomores,' Raiders' coach Todd Rispler said. 'We'll just have to go out and compete to the best of our ability and see where things shake out.'

- CENTENNIAL -

The Eagles are led by a solid distance crew that is paced by junior Michelle Dettmann. She is the defending district champion in the 3,000 and the league's top returner in the 1,500. Dettmann also turned in a solid fall season, winning the district cross country meet by more than 40 seconds.

A full preview was published in the Saturday, March 24, issue of The Outlook.