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BOYS TRACK - Barlow, Central Catholic and Gresham all expected to challenge for the league crown
by: file photo Barlow’s distance duo of Jackson Haselnus and Jacob Campbell, left, are primed for solid spring seasons after leading the Bruins to the 6A state meet during cross country in the fall.

The graduation of Barlow's super duo of thrower Ryan Crouser and sprinter Arthur Delaney opens up the race for the Mount Hood Conference boys track crown this spring. Most teams are looking for fresh faces to emerge, and that process hasn't been helped by a wet start to the season that has hampered results and even cancelled a few meets.

Gresham called off its season opener two weeks ago in part because its throwing sectors were covered in several inches of standing water. While teams have endured the rain to get in workouts, coaches have also searched out options to give their athletes a break from the weather. At Gresham that has meant plenty of time in the weight room and a couple trips to the swimming pool, while Centennial has held workouts in the school hallways to avoid the harshest downpours.

'This is the coldest, wettest start to a season that I can remember,' Centennial boys coach Greg Letts said. 'We're still outside 95 percent of the time, but you want to get as much work done as you can in a short period of time.'

With Barlow trying to develop some new stars, Central Catholic appears to be the team most likely to challenge at the top. The Rams always pile up points with its distance-running crew, but this year have top returners with Hayward Demison and D.J. Napoli in the jumps and senior Alex Balducci in the throws.

Following are previews of the five East County schools …

• Crouser is the top thrower at Texas this spring, while Delaney is contributing with Oregon's sprint crew and has already earned a spot on the team's short relay team. The duo combined to score 48 points and helped Barlow bring home the third-place trophy from state last season.

'They are two of the best athletes to ever come through the state, and it was special to have them here the last four years,' Bruins coach David Kilian said. 'When you have guys of that caliber, you feel like you can put them into any event and get a win.'

This year's utility player appears to Dillon Hoecker, who transferred from Gresham for his senior season. He won the district high jump title last season. He spent the winter learning hurdle technique and can also contribute in the long and triple jump along with the relays.

'He worked hard over the winter and picked up the hurdles quickly. He's a guy we can put in a lot of different spots,' Kilian said.

Senior Mark Shearer provides the Bruins with a potential 1-2 district punch in the high jump.

Barlow's distance crew appears to be its strength this season after qualifying for state during the cross country season. Senior Jacob Campbell and junior Jackson Haselnus lead the charge in the longer races, while Andy Abelein and Alex Seymour could be factors in the 800.

Junior Andrew Hayes takes the baton in the sprints after placing fifth in the district 200 last year, while sophomore Garrett Stauffer leads the returning throwers.

For a look at the other East County schools, look for our full preview in the April 7, edition of The Outlook.

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