Fourth year in a row for Lady Braves heading Cowapa

The Lady Braves of Banks pulled off a shocker when they captured their fourth consecutive Cowapa League title in track and field this past Thursday and Friday in Scappoose.

'That was not expected by any of us,' Banks coach Tony Cicoria said of his girls team, which had lost a number of key competitors from previous championship squads.

Carried by their strengths in the field events - none of their state qualifications came on the track - the Lady Braves just snuck by Yamhill-Carlton and Scappoose in the team standings and advanced six qualifiers to the Class 4A state track and field meet, scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Eugene. The Banks boys were sixth.

Remarkably, the Lady Braves won the district meet win despite picking up victories in just three individual events. But their depth won the meet: Banks placed second in three events, third in seven events and fourth in three more.

'It's a team in every sense of the word,' Cicoria said. 'Our results are teamwork and hard work.'

Annie Victor, who was fifth at state in the discus in 2011, will be making a return trip to Eugene in that event after winning the district title with a throw of 117 feet, 8 inches, just more than two feet under her personal best of 119-09, which ranks fourth in Class 4A this year. The sophomore just missed a second bid to Eugene with a third-place effort in the shot put, 34-04.25, just a quarter-inch shy of second place.

Fellow thrower Kindel Bailey punched her ticket to Hayward Field with a winning throw of 118-08 in the javelin - the 10th best toss in Class 4A this season. Teammate Ashley Edwards will be accompanying her after placing second. Bailey, a freshman, set personal-best marks in all three throws at the district meet; she took fifth in the shot put and seventh in the discus.

Amy Hilger rounded out Banks' trio of champions and advanced to state for the first time with a personal-best mark of 5-03 in the high jump, which is the fourth-highest jump in Class 4A heading into state. Lauren Birr placed second to also qualify.

'At practice, she's jumped 5-04 before, so it's not out of the realm of possibility,' Cicoria said of Hilger.

Jennifer Hilger advanced to state for the fourth consecutive year with a second-place finish in the long jump. Her mark of 15-11.75 was a personal best by almost 9 inches. Amy Hilger was third. Similar to Victor, Jennifer Hilger was third in the triple jump, just a quarter-inch shy of the second-place finisher's mark.

Michaela Shurts contributed significant points to the Lady Braves' team standing by placing third in the pole vault and 100-meter hurdles. She also ran on Banks' fifth-place short relay and was eighth in the low hurdles.

Also on the track, Amanda Reaser capped her career by placing third in the 3,000 (11:21.28, personal best) and fourth in the 1,500 (5:08.59). Ariana Daskalakis also just missed qualifying for state with a third-place finish in the 800, but her time of 2:27.04 was a personal best by nearly 6 seconds.

As for the Banks boys, they will also be sending a district champion to Eugene, as Tim Cutone threw a 10-inch personal best (155-07) in the javelin, topping the rest of the field by 5 feet.

And similar to the girls team, many of the Banks boys who scored significant points at districts were underclassmen.

Junior Matthew Borchers took third in the 1,500 and set a school record with his time of 4:14.42, missing out on a trip to state by less than a second. He was also seventh in the 800.

Thomas Blatner, Lucas Hidalgo and Dallin Shurts showed promise for the future by placing third in the shot put and fourth in the pole vault and discus, respectively. Blatner, a sophomore, came out for track just a few weeks ago, while Shurts and Hidalgo are only a freshman. And all four members of the Braves third-place short relay team - Michael King, Grayson Partain, Holden Partain and Mykah Rosa - are eligible to return next season.

'They could be ridiculous next year,' Cicoria said of his short relay squad.

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