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Russell puts on a primetime performance

THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Greshams Brooke Laakso and Leah Russell celebrate a comeback win in the 1,600-meter relay under the lights Wednesday night. Gresham High senior Leah Russell wanted her final time competing on the Gophers’ track to be special, so she delivered a pair of district records and a comeback win to close out the night at the Mount Hood Conference championships Wednesday.

Russell grabbed the home crowd’s attention with a win in the high hurdles, pulling alongside Barlow’s Renick Meyer halfway through the race and zipping over the last three hurdles cleanly to secure the win. She hit the line in a district record time of 14.71 seconds, despite a rough start that saw her knee clip the first couple hurdles.

She returned to the track to run the 300 hurdles and put on a primetime performance under the stadium lights. The result was never in doubt, as she built a sizable lead coming around the turn and was through the finish line before any one else had attempted the final hurdle. Russell clocked in at 43.93 seconds, shattering a three decades old record by almost a full second.

Look across your living room to the far wall, and that’s the distance an athlete a top speed covers in a second.

It marks the fastest time in the state this season.

Russell wasn’t done.

Twenty minutes later, she was back on the track to run the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay. Her Gresham teammates gave her the baton in second place, but Russell had her eyes on victory.

“It was my last race ever at Gresham, and it had to be all out,” Russell said.

She quickly gained ground on Central Catholic’s Olivia Gabriel, picking up huge chunks down the backstretch and overtaking her in front of the grandstands about 50 meters from the finish line.

The Gophers’ tag-team came through in 3:59.78 — a half-second ahead of Central Catholic.

View photos from district at daveball.exposuremanager.com.

Look for expanded meet coverage in our Friday, May 13, print edition.