Heading into last Wednesday's dual meet against Clackamas, Lakeridge girls track coach Ken James was expecting a battle to the wire. The last thing he would have predicted was a lopsided victory by the Cavaliers.
After the Pacer girls nosed out highly-touted West Linn the week before, the Lakeridge-Clackamas dual had the regular-season league title riding on the outcome. With their 99-46 victory over the Pacers, the Cavs now look like the favorites to win next week's district meet, which is the championship that really means the most.
The Pacers could regain the district crown they won two years ago, but it will take a lot of production from their top athletes. A similar effort was needed last Wednesday, but some of them never really got a chance to show their stuff.
For starters, Samantha Berryman went home sick after taking second in her first event of the day, the high jump. So, Lakeridge lost some valuable points in the hurdles and one of the running jumps.
Nor did it help matters that Lakeridge's short relay team was disqualified, which added five points to Clackamas' score. Then, when it was apparent Lakeridge would lose the meet, James decided to scratch Mandy White, the league's top female sprinter, from the 200-meter dash. And freshman phenom Stacy Sawin also was pulled from the 300-meter hurdles.
Then, when it looked like Lakeridge would salvage a victory in the 4x400 relay at the end of the day, Clackamas runner Stephanie Persaud made an impressive rally on the final leg to hand the Pacers another disappointing loss.
It was just one of those days that the Pacers would just as soon forget about and move on.
There were a few memorable moments, though.
One of those came in the 100-meter dash when White blew away the field with a 12.2 run. That left her .06 of a second shy of her state-best performance.
In addition to being the best in the state in the 200, White also had the TRL's top long jump mark coming into the meet. But she lost that event to Clackamas' Caitlyn O'Neil, who went 17-0. White was second with a jump of 16-4½.
The Pacers' most productive event came in the javelin, where Andrea Hopkins was first with a throw of 122-3. She was backed by Kai Schmidt in second with a heave of 120-1 and Cassie Strauss took third with a 95-11 toss.
Sawin, who's just a freshman, showed she'll be tough to beat in the 100 high hurdles. She won that event with a time of 16.4. Coming in, she was tied with Berryman for the top mark in the league in that event. Sawin also has the league's best time in the 300 hurdles.
Lakeridge also has the league's best high jumper in freshman Lexi Ross. She won last Wednesday's event with a 5-2 effort. But Berryman, who took second that day with a 5-1 mark, was competing in the event for the first time this season. She won the district high jump two years ago as a freshman.
The Lakeridge boys also had a tough time last Wednesday, losing a 102-41 decision to the Cavs.
Although there were few highlights for the Pacer boys, there were a few efforts that stood out. Most notable was Zach Young's winning time of 10.84 in the 100-meter dash. Since that was a hand-held time, the mark was converted to 11.14, which still gives him the second-best time in the league behind Putnam's Joevonte Mayes.
'Today was my best race of the year … but I couldn't do it without the coaches and the workout program they give us,' Young said.
Initially, everyone thought that Young had tied Mayes' best time of the year. But Mayes' time was converted up to 10.84.
'It is a hand time, so you've got to take with a grain of salt,' Young said of his mark. 'But it was still a good race.'
Young was hoping to double his win total with a victory in the 200, but he was nipped at the finish line by the Cavs' Gabe Garza, who was clocked in a time of 23.36. Young had a time of 23.44.
The Pacers have had a stable full of solid sprinters this year, but they lost one of them, Travis Dunn, earlier this year to a knee injury. Still, Taylor Young managed to finish third in the 100 with a time of 11.37 and Corey Rosenfeld was fourth at 11.43. In the 200, Rosenfeld took third with a time of 23.99 and Rob Kool was fifth at 24.17.
In addition to his third-place finish in the 100, Taylor Young won the long jump with a leap of 20-5½ and he claimed the shot put with a toss of 45-5.
Plus, Zach Karr won the discus with a 136-11 effort and Dave Marks claimed the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:15.75.
The Lake Oswego track teams, meanwhile, have had their share of tough times during the regular-season dual meets. But they've had a surprising number of superb individual performances.
Tops on that list would have to be Elijah Greer's state-best 3:58.19 time in the 1,500 meters. He set the mark in the two weekends ago at the Centennial Invitational, which attracted a number of top performers.
That time was the product of a disappointing loss the previous week at the Lake Oswego Invitational, when Greer lost a close race to Lincoln's Nathan Mathabane. After that meet, Lake Oswego's coaches devised a new strategy for Greer where he would start his late-race kick with 500 meters remaining. It was a risky move because Greer possibly could have run out of gas before the finish line. Instead, the sophomore phenom easily cruised to victory in the Centennial meet and established the state's best mark in the process.
'He kind of caught everyone off-guard,' Lake Oswego coach Eric Lider said of Greer's race-wining kick.
'They were not able to catch him and run him down. It was really fun to watch ... but I'm not sure if that will be his strategy all of the time.'
Teammate Riley Werner also ran in that race but he was unable to match his previous season-best mark of 4:08. Yet, he's still ranked No. 3 in the TRL in that event.
Because of their decision to compete in the Centennial meet, Werner and Greer were held out of Grant High School's Cotton Invitational the day before. By Lider's estimation, that took 30 to 40 points away from the Lakers' point total. The boys team wound finishing fifth in that meet, which was the same spot that the girls team claimed.
One person who did compete in the Cotton meet was James Ratliff, who was clocked at 15.00 in the high hurdles. That time was later converted to 15.24, which is the best mark so far in the Three Rivers League. Ratliff also has the league's best 300 intermediate hurdle time -- at 40.78, which he set at the Laker Invitational earlier in the season.