A.J. Dutra leads the way for Bowmen.
by: Jaime Valdez, Dutra took two medals during states.

EUGENE - A.J. Dutra stood on the runway.

He knew that one false step, any sort of mistake, could end his season.

On the other hand, Dutra also knew that one good jump could earn him the prize he's worked so hard the past year to get - a state championship.

It was all or nothing.

He got it all.

Dutra, a Sherwood High School senior, came through in the clutch - under all the pressure - to win the long jump title at the Class 3A state track and field championships, held Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field.

Dutra, after scratching on the first two of his three preliminary attempts Friday, came up with a jump of 21 feet, 11½ inches on his third attempt - where a scratch would have disqualified him.

Dutra's all-or-nothing, in-the-clutch jump of 21-11½ turned out to be the winning leap, as he claimed his first state championship.

'This is unbelievable,' Dutra said with a smile following his final jump of the competition. 'Last year, (when he finished second by 2½ inches to Hidden Valley's Ryan VanCleave, who bettered his personal best by a foot) was big motivation for me. This year, I wanted it. I needed it.'

Dutra's championship provided just one of many highlights for the Bowmen at the state meet as both Sherwood teams turned in strong performances. The Sherwood boys finished in 13th place in the team standings with 21 points and the Sherwood girls finished in 10th place, also with 21 points.

'I thought we finished real strong,' Sherwood coach Terrel Smith said. 'The kids went out and did what they had to do. I'm proud of them.'

While there were plenty of strong Bowmen performances throughout the meet, none topped what Dutra accomplished - especially when you take into consideration what he had been through during the week.

Dutra, in the week prior to the state meet, was battling a bout of the norovirus infection.

'Today was my first day out of bed,' he said on Friday. 'Being sick this week was really scary. I lost 12 pounds and two days ago I puked 12 times. I was asking `what did I ever do to get sick right before state?'

With that in mind, Dutra didn't take the highest of hopes into the state competition.

'I wasn't expecting to get first,' he said. 'I just wanted to have some fun.'

Through his first two attempts in the preliminary flights, Dutra wasn't even having fun.

On his first jump, Dutra scratched with his foot going a half an inch past the board. On his second attempt, he was a half a foot past the board.

'After the first scratch, I said `fine,'' Dutra said. 'After the second scratch, I felt a lot of pressure. I had to get a mark. I just wanted to get to the finals. I asked God for one jump.'

In his last attempt in preliminaries, Dutra, in the clutch, hit the board almost perfectly. He landed in the pit, turned around and waited for the measurement. The mark was 21-11½, which not only put him in the finals, but it gave him the lead - just an inch and a quarter ahead of Sisters' Cory McCafferey.

'That jump really surprised me,' Dutra said with a smile. 'I turned around, saw 21-11½, and felt a lot more comfortable. God blessed me with one good jump.'

'He's a gamer,' Smith said of Dutra.

Dutra's troubles with his steps returned in the finals. He scratched on his first two jumps in the finals before completing the competition with a leap of 21-3¼. However, McCafferey nor the rest of the field was able to better Dutra's previous mark of 21-11½, leaving the Sherwood senior with his desired state championship.

'I went from desperation to jubilation,' Dutra said. 'I'm super happy that I won. This year has just been phenomenal. I couldn't ask for a better day. I've got some amazing coaches who really helped me. They put in a lot of hard work.'

In addition to his championship in the long jump, Dutra came close to sharing another state track and field title. In the 4 x 100-meter relay, Dutra teamed up with Bowmen senior Daniel Hegerberg and juniors Jared Newell and Tim Otto to finish second in that event in a time 43.83 seconds.

Wilsonville, for the second straight week, edged the Bowmen. The Wildcats won the state title with a time of 43.72. The week before, at the Tri-Valley League district meet, Wilsonville edged Sherwood by the same .11 margin.

'In our hearts, we thought we had it,' Newell said of Saturday's closely contested state meet finals. 'It's not a disappointment, but who doesn't want to win? It was still fun. One through four, we did what we needed to do. Sometimes, you just have to shrug your shoulders.'

Hegerberg, like Dutra, was battling illness throughout the week prior to the state meet.

'To finish as well as we did, with those guys being sick, was pretty good,' Smith said.

Also for the Sherwood boys, senior Michael Blackham raced to seventh place in the 110 high hurdles in a time of 16.01.

'It was good,' Blackham said. 'It wasn't as much as I wanted, but it was still all good.'

Sherwood's Kole Krieger cleared 12-0 to finish 10th in the pole vault and Dutra ran to eighth place in the 200 in 23.45.

Sophomore Courtney Smurdon led the way for the Sherwood girls at the state meet as she had high finishes in both hurdles finals. In the 100 high hurdles, she ran to second place in a time of 15.86.

'I'm really happy, and I'm kind of surprised,' Smurdon said after she received her second-place medal. 'It's been a great season and I'm having a great time at this event.'

Smurdon also finished fourth in the 300 low hurdles with a mark of 47.42.

She also teamed with Emily Schulte, Michaela Loewer and Erica Chamberlain to finish sixth in the 4 x 100 relay in a time of 51.56.

'We were a little nervous, but we pulled it together,' Smurdon said.

'I was surprised that we were able to put this group together and be as successful as we were,' Smith said. 'None of those girls are really sprinters, but they worked hard and ran well.'

Sherwood freshman Kristin Oenning finished in fourth place in the high jump with a height of 5-0 and she ran to13th place in the 1,500 in a time of 5:18.28.

Lady Bowmen senior Meghan Mulligan was 13th in the 3,000 in a time of 11:28.53.

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