Pioneer junior Justin Cornejo is a part of three school track records
Oregon City thinclads last Thursday and Friday turned what was expected to be a close meet into a runaway, as they cruised to their third straight district team title in Three Rivers League boys track and field.
The Pioneers tallied 151 team points, finishing well in front of the runner-up boys team from Lakeridge, which scored 131-1/2. Rounding out the scoring were: Lake Oswego (118-1/2), Canby (80), Clackamas (70-1/2), Grant (66) and West Linn (41-1/2).
'Of the three district championships, this one means the most, because coming in we projected a win by the fewest points,' said Oregon City coach Adam Thygeson. 'We thought it would be a very close meet. If everyone did what they were supposed to do, we thought we'd win by nine points; last year we projected to win by 30.
'The kids arose to the challenge and outperformed our projections. I couldn't be prouder.'
Thygeson added: 'What makes this win extra special was it was truly a team win. We had second kids that we projected to place seventh or eighth step up and place higher. Those second kids are the ones who made the difference.'
Thygeson said the biggest surprise came in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, where junior Ryan Cox, who was seeded eighth, placed fourth.
The Pioneers also had their share of the meet's top performers, winning seven events and finishing runner-up in three more.
'This [district meet championship] means a lot,' said Oregon City team co-captain Jarom Youngblood. 'Us seniors have been together four years now. We've been working really hard. We've graduated some really good athletes from past years, so this year it was up to us to lead the team and carry the team on our shoulders.
'And we won another title. It's a great way to leave this program. It's awesome!'
'For me, to be a part of a group of kids doing something as amazing as this, it's a second-to-none feeling....,' said Oregon City co-captain Trevor Dye. 'It gives us a lot of momentum heading to state. I'm really excited to see how we can do as a team.'
'I honestly think this is the year we could win [state],' said Youngblood. 'We've got a chance to win five events.'
'Oregon City has never had a top-four team finish at state,' said Thygeson. 'But this could be the year we bring home a trophy. We've been projecting a top-four finish all year, and we've got the athletes through to state who could do it....'
Oregon City district champions included: senior Andy Rondema in the discus (149-3) and javelin (197-1); Youngblood in the pole vault (14-2); junior Beau Brosseau in the shot put (58-10-3/4); junior Justin Cornejo in the 100 (10.88) and 200 (22.21); and the team of seniors Dye and Sam Hoult, and juniors Ryan Cox and Cornejo in the 4x100 relay (42.74).
The Pioneers will also send their 4x400 relay team to state. The Pioneer 4x400 team of Dye, Youngblood, Cornejo and Hoult finished just back of Lakeridge, losing the race by an eyelash, 3:23.39 to 3:23.40.
Dye (50.23) also qualified for state in the 400, where he finished second to Grant standout Nate Halverson (49.83). And Brosseau (183-0) qualified in the javelin, where he finished second to Rondema.
The Pioneers head to state with several athletes ranked in the top eight in the state in their events, including: Brosseau (first in the shot put and fourth in the javelin), Rondema (third in the javelin), Youngblood (third in the pole vault), and Cornejo (fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200). Oregon City's 4x400 relay team has the fourth-best time.
Cornejo came through with the most impressive performances at district, breaking his own school record in the 100, setting a new school record in the 200, helping Oregon City's 4x100-meter relay team tie a school record in that event, and helping pace Oregon City's 4x400 relay team to a near school-record time.
The old record in the 200 was 22.34, set by both Tim Nichol and Jeff Matychuck way back in 1984.
'I'm going to state in four events,' said Cornejo. 'Hopefully I can make the finals in all four and show the state what I can do.'
Cornejo said following his win in the 100, 'Breaking 11.00 is a great landmark for me. Now I know I can compete with the best in the state, and I'm looking forward to it.'
Rondema, who came through with new career-bests in winning his events, was ecstatic following his wins.
'This is really huge,' he said. 'I've been working for this since I started track six years ago.'
Rondema added, 'I think I can win [state in] the javelin.'
Youngblood said, following his team's performance in the 4x400 relay, '[Our time is] a four-second PR. We're just two seconds off the school record. It feels awesome! We're going for a school record at state.'
Besides winning the pole vault and competing in the relay, Youngblood scored in the high hurdles and high jump, placing fourth in the intermediate hurdles and eighth in the high jump.
Oregon City junior Brady Heinsoo placed third in the high hurdles; Hoult placed third in the 400; junior Daniel Slack placed third in the triple jump and seventh in the high hurdles, and seniors Nathan Meeker and Bradley Laughlin placed fifth and sixth respectively in the 3,000.
Oregon City girls
Oregon City girls rallied around their depth to score 127-1/2 points, and the Pioneers finished runner-up to state power Lakeridge (150-1/2) at district. Rounding out the scoring were: Grant 83-1/2, Lake Oswego 93, Clackamas 70, Canby 68-1/2 and West Linn 58.
The Pioneers scored points in every event, and they had at least two placers in eight of the 15 individual events.
Mikayla Friend was the only Oregon City girl to win an event. Friend had a tremendous district meet, launching the shot put 40-8-1/4 to win that event by three feet; and launching the discus a PR of 130-5 to win that event by 18 feet.
'I'm feeling pretty good,' Friend said on Friday. 'Today is my birthday, and I've got two district titles.'
Friend noted that this is only the second year that she's competed in track and field.
She said of her goal at state, 'To do the best I can.'
Friend heads to the state 6A meet with the second-best mark in the shot put (41-8) and the fourth-best mark in the discus. Her discus throw at district was a career-best mark by six feet.
Senior Marissa Gehring will join Friend at state. She cleared 10-0 and placed second at district in the pole vault.
Senior Emily Shannon just missed making state in two events, placing third in the long jump (16-1) and third in the triple jump (35-4). Her mark in the long jump was a personal best.
Oregon City girls were tough in the distances. Junior Rachel Crawford (4:59.07) and freshmen Zoe Clegg (5:03.24) and Miranda Nelson (5:05.61) placed third through fifth in the 1,500, all three with personal-record times.
Crawford (2:24.37) and Clegg (2:28.17) also went three-five in the 800, and Nelson placed third in the 3,000 (10:50.08).
Oregon City junior Katie Kohler placed third in the low hurdles, completing the race in a PR of 46.86.
Sophomore Halle Ward made Oregon City's top-five all-time in the high hurdles, running the race in 16.44, good for fourth place.
Oregon City junior Catelyn Preston just missed making state in the javelin, placing third with a throw of 127-4.
In what Clackamas coach Jeff Kelleher has termed 'a building year,' the Cavaliers qualified only three athletes for state, and Clackamas boys and girls both placed fifth at district in their respectively team standings.
Senior Natasha Rowland was a standout for Clackamas girls, earning runner-up honors and advancing to state in both the high hurdles (16.17) and the low hurdles (46.06). Rowland's time in the intermediates was a personal record, and she set a personal record in the preliminaries of the high hurdles, with an effort of 16.1.
Rowland said of her runner-up finish in the high hurdles, 'This is the first year I've competed in the highs, so I was pretty excited.'
She said her main goal at state is 'to get in the 45s in the intermediates.'
Rowland heads to state with the 10th-best time in Class 6A in the intermediate hurdles. A time of 45.90 would likely land her a spot in the state finals.
Clackamas boys advanced two athletes to state with runner-up finishes, senior Lopaka Searle in the triple jump (44-8), and sophomore Connor McLean in the pole vault (13-8). Both marks were personal records.
Searle and McLean both placed in three events. Searle cleared 5-10 for fourth place in the high jump, and he placed seventh in the long jump (20-2-1/2); McLean placed sixth in the high hurdles (16.01) and sixth in the intermediate hurdles (41.68).
Searle, who had a best of 41 feet in the triple jump heading into this season, commented on making state: 'It means a lot. It's my senior year, and I wanted to go out with a bang.'
Searle said his goal at state is 'to break 45 feet.'