Addition of a relay team boosts the Rangers chances in Eugene

Estacada track coach Jon Erickson sees a trophy in the Rangers future, he’s just not sure what color it will be. The Estacada girls team returns one of the most talented sprinters at any level in senior Genna Settle, along with enough complementary parts to plug away team points at the 4A championships in late May.

Last year, the Rangers finished eighth at state with Settle scoring the team’s full allotment of 28 points. She won the 100-meter dash (12.59 seconds), the 200 (25.70) while taking second in the long jump (17-feet-9 1/4-inches).

Settle has been a force in the sprints since her rookie season, which saw her step onto the podium in Eugene. Erickson has put together a challenging schedule that includes a variety of weekend invitationals where Settle will test herself against athletes from the 5A/6A level. That stretch begins this weekend with the Mike Kostrba Invitational in Sandy.

“That will allow her to keep focused knowing she is facing top competition almost every week,” Erickson said.

In the Tri-Valley League her biggest challengers are seniors Allie Sprauer out of LaSalle Prep and Taylor Plunkett out of Gladstone — both state finalists a year ago.

But Settle’s biggest challenge will be gaining ground on Molalla standout Claire Thomas in the long jump. Thomas went past 19 feet to win last year’s 4A crown — more than a foot ahead of runner-up Settle.

“Genna just keeps getting better in the long jump,” Erickson said. “We won’t jump her every time out, but we keep her working on the runway during practice.”

Settle picks up a fourth event this season as the anchor on the 400 relay, which opened the season with a win at the eight-team Sherwood Invitational before spring break.

“That group has massive potential to come away with a state title,” Erickson said. “The spend a lot of time together, and that makes a huge difference in a relay.”

The Rangers have a solid 1-2 punch in the sprints with basketball player Tori Johnson in the longer races and in the high jump, while Mariah Johnson is a consistent scoring threat in the distance races. Sarah Davies is another district contender in the hurdles and triple jump.

The Tri-Valley League is loaded with talent in the sport with three teams packing into the top 10 at last year’s state meet. Gladstone won the title, followed by Molalla in second and Estacada in eighth.

“We always shoot for third at district. We just don’t have the numbers to fill in all the extra places,” Erickson said. “But our girls are set up to contend at the state meet, and that’s what we’re really gunning for.”

Estacada opens the Tri-Valley League season at home Thursday, April 18, hosting LaSalle Prep and Gladstone.

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