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Braves dominate competition at annual Banks Invitational


Banks athletes win a total of 12 event championships against a field of 15 teams from Oregon, Washington

The Banks track and field teams cleaned house on Saturday.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks junior Ashley Edwards prepares for a throw during the javelin competition at Saturday's Banks Invitational. Edwards finished second in the event with a throw of 107 feet, finishing behind sophomore teammate Kindel Bailey, who won with a toss of 114 feet, 3 inches.

Competing in their own Banks Invitational, between the boys and girls, Braves participants racked up a total of 28 top-three finishes at the meet. Team scores were not tabulated for the event, which drew 15 Oregon teams ranging from Class 1A through 4A, as well as Ilwaco, a Class 1A school in Washington.

“I think we did well,” Banks coach Rob Frank said. “We had a meet on Thursday, and so it’s tough to compete hard on Thursday and compete hard again today. So a lot of the kids that really did well on Thursday had a little bit of a down day today ... but between the two days we had a lot of PRs — I couldn’t tell you how many.

“So that was really good. We’re improving every meet. Kids are getting PRs all the time.”

Had team scores been tallied, no doubt the Braves would have fared well, thanks to all of those top finishes. But two Banks athletes did walk away Saturday afternoon with the highest honors given at the meet.

For his victories in the shot put and discus, Thomas Blatner was named the outstanding male field athlete of the meet. Junior teammate Amy Hilger cleared 5 feet, 5 inches to win the high jump — which was tied for the second-best mark in the state, regardless of classification, as of Tuesday afternoon — to win outstanding female field athlete of the meet honors.

Blatner threw 45-10½ in the shot put and 128-8 in the discus. The talented senior, who came out for track for the first time only midway through his junior season, was not thrilled with his shot put result, but he did set a personal best in the discus by almost 16 feet. He won the shot put by more than five feet and the discus by more than 10 feet, and added a fourth-place finish in the javelin for good measure.

“I threw about five feet under my goal,” Blatner said about the shot put. “We just did have a nationally appointed coach (from USA Track & Field) come a few days ago, so my mentality wasn’t there. I was thinking too much on my throws. I still came out with first, but personally, I didn’t take it as a victory.”

Blatner threw 49-1 in the shot put in a dual meet against Scappoose on April 11, a mark that still ranks third in Class 4A as of Tuesday afternoon. Eclipsing that 50-foot mark may not be long in the offing, if Blatner can put it all together in competition. On Saturday after the shot put had ended, Blatner took some more throws without the pressure of competition.

“He went out after the meet today and threw three of them over 50 feet,” Frank said. “He’s trying to throw too hard.”

Devin King also was a two-time winner for the Banks boys, who prevailed in eight events. King, a baseball player who moonlights on the track team, came from behind to win the 400 meters in 52.60 seconds, and he teamed with Mykah Rosa, Andrew Lenz and Holden Partain to win the 4x100 relay (45.47). King also was third in the 100 (11.64) and second in the 4x400 relay along with Lenz, Garrett Pauly and Matthew Borchers (3:44.83).

Other Banks event winners were Garrett Markham in the javelin (153-10), Emmitt Vandehey in the high jump (5-10), Lucas Hidalgo in the pole vault (12-6) and Pauly in the long jump (19-4½).

Runners-up included Borchers in the 1,500 (4:21.68) and Lenz in the 110 hurdles (18.06), while Keenan Marston was third in the high jump (5-6).

Borchers had also planned to run the 800 at the meet, but his asthma flared up and prevented him from doubling up in the two-lap race. But in the midst of a successful senior season, Borchers is putting his focus more on the end of the season.

“I’m feeling good,” Borchers said. “I may end up switching out of the (1,500). At districts, that was my main thing last year. I might have to switch to the (800) this year, just looking at competition and all, but I feel good about this year. I think I’m going to make it to state.”

Hilger was one of four event-winners for the Banks girls, who took all of their titles in the field events. Annie Victor finished first in the discus (116-0), while Kindel Bailey won the javelin (114-3) and Michaela Shurts took top honors in the pole vault (8-6).

“The first couple ones I was running into (the bar) quite a bit and wasn’t just getting my knee turned,” said Hilger, who led teammate Lauren Birr (5-0) to a 1-3 finish, about what transpired during her three attempts at her winning height. “So then the third one — just focused, deep breath, and then just tried to jump as high as I could.”

The Lady Braves added a total of 11 second- and third-place results. Victor (33-3) led Ashley Edwards (32-11½) and Bailey (31-1) to a 2-3-4 finish in the shot put, and Edwards earned a runner-up result of her own in the javelin (107-0).

On the track, Maddison King recorded a pair of second-place finishes in the 100 (13.14) and 200 (28.23), while Kiana Shurts was second in the 400 (1:04.52) and third in the 800 (2:39.39). King and Shurts, along with Edwards and Morgan Nelson, finished third in the 4x100 relay (54.00).

In addition to her pole vault win, Michaela Shurts picked up third-place results in the 100 hurdles (17.78) and 300 hurdles (52.75)

Banks is scheduled to compete again today, in a home dual meet against Yamhill-Carlton. Also on the schedule this week is the high-powered Centennial Invitational in Gresham on Saturday.

Midway through the season, Frank is liking what he sees from his team.

“We have two groups of kids,” Frank said. “We have the kids that have been out for a while and have mastered their events, and they’re looking real good. And we have the kids that are new to the sport, and they’re looking really good.

“That’s really where we want to be, is having our younger kids improve. I would say, almost a person, the first- and second- year kids are doing better than I would have guessed at this time of the season, and that our veterans are doing better than I had them penciled out.”