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Damascus teams try for another Class 1A title sweep

TRACK: New set of contenders to challenge Eagles

Damascus Christian swept the Class 1A boys and girls state track titles by wide margins last season, but the Eagles expect a tougher challenge this fall. The OSAA's reclassification has left the 1A level flooded with teams, including a handful of former Class 2A track powers.

'That's going to make things interesting,' Eagles' coach Kelly Holding said. 'We haven't lost too many points from last year, but we're going to have to really work at it. Our kids are looking forward to the challenge.'

The biggest threat comes on the girls side where Damascus is heading for a showdown with Sherman County - last year's Class 2A champion.

Following are previews of the three local small-school programs:

- DAMASCUS CHRISTIAN -

The Damascus boys piled up 79 points at last year's state meet and appear ready for another big total in 2007.

Leading the charge is senior Seth Lindquist, who scored at state in all three jumps last year, highlighted by wins in the long jump and triple jump. He is adding the pole vault to his list this season. The Class 1A state meet is going to a two-day format this spring, making it easier for him to juggle a potential four events.

Lindquist is joined in the jumps by senior Jeff Hester, who finished third in the triple jump last year. The duo is already breaking their personal-bests from last season.

'They push each other and really work well together,' Holding said. 'A lot of our kids started a weight training program this year, and it's added up. They're coming back much stronger.'

Sophomore sprinter Sean Lewis is also expected to have a busy schedule at the state meet after piling up 38 points last year. He won the 100-and 200-meter sprints along with the high hurdles. A runner-up finish in the 300 hurdles is all that kept him from a rare perfect score.

The Damascus girls have won three straight Class 1A titles based largely on the efforts of senior Emily Holding, who has won 10 individual titles during that span. Holding is capable of winning a variety of events, but focuses her efforts in the sprints, hurdles and long jump.

'That really helps, because it allows us to look at the matchups, then decide which route is going to be best to take for our team,' Kelly Holding said.

She is joined by sophomore Rebecca Holding, who is a scoring threat in the hurdles and a key member of the relays. Junior Kim Stephens also returns after being the final member of a 1-2-3 sweep in the high hurdles at last year's district meet.

- PORTLAND LUTHERAN -

The Portland Lutheran boys are led by Abel Araya, who finished third in the 3,000 state finals as a freshman. He is also expected to contribute in the jumps.

'He's probably the fastest kid on the team, but he can run forever,' Blue Jays' coach Jake Rothauge said. 'That's a weird combo to have, but he could really do almost any event for us.'

The Lutheran girls will look to senior Dominique Jacoy to supply a scoring boost. She is training for a heptathlon and could see time in the javelin, long jump, sprints and hurdles this spring.

'She's just a great athlete, who wants to do everything,' Rothauge said.

The Blue Jays also return state placer Anja Bergmann in the pole vault. She cleared 9-feet-6-inches at an early-season meet, beating her state effort last year by a foot.

- CORBETT -

Corbett's only returning state qualifier is senior distance runner Jake Soulagnet, who finished 15th in the 3,000 at last year's meet. Cardinals' coach Joseph McNeal could not be reached for this preview.