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Damascus girls claim Valley 10 crown

THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Damascus Christians Ashlynn Jones duels Ruth Meeker of St. Stephens on the way to the finish line in the 400-meter relay Saturday.PORTLAND — Damascus Christian sprinter Ashlynn Jones didn’t know what to do when she crossed the finish line in the 400-meter relay Saturday morning. Should she throw her arms up and celebrate or collapse to the track in tears.

A hotly-contested tag-team race saw its share of stressful moments over the final 15 seconds. All looked well for the Eagles when Emily Bedlion whipped around the final turn about a stride ahead of the pack. But getting rid of the baton would prove to be a test. When she first swiped the metal tube in front of her, she missed Jones’s hand.

A bit like swiping your debit card the wrong direction in the grocery line. Nothing else can happen until you get it right.

The two runners maintained their composure and Bedlion completed the handoff before her teammate reached the end of the exchange zone.

“We missed it initially, but Emily got it to me without me having to turn around or lose any speed,” Jones said.

The Damascus junior started moving for the finish line only to see Ruth Meeker out of St. Stephen’s pull up on her right side halfway home. The two raced side-by-side for a few moments before Meeker’s momentum carried her into the lead.

Still, second place would be good enough to qualify for next weekend’s state meet. But with the finish line only a few strides away, Jones heard the dreaded thud of footsteps approaching from behind. On her left came Perrydale’s Kieley Griffin and the pair lunged through tape desperate to add one more race to their season schedule.

“I felt like I got out to a good start, but my legs were just going out at the end — I was just glad they carried me across the finish line,” Jones said.

Jones checked this reporter’s camera in hopes of some clarity on the finish, but the only photo that mattered was under review in the press box above the grandstands. The teams waited on the infield for about 10 minutes, their fate foggy until the Eagles were put into the No. 2 spot during the awards presentation, clocking in 0.13 hundredths ahead of Perrydale.

The Damascus relay started with Faith Richards on the opening turn and Tory Webb down the backstretch.

Damascus scored 93 points to claim the Valley 10 girls crown.

Nicole Manning supplied the clinching blow by edging out Perrydale’s Sarah Clark for wins in the shot put (32-feet-9.5-inches) and the javelin (114-2).

• The Damascus boys finished second with 83 team points, while SW Christian won the meet with a 146 total.

Hunter Straub highlighted the Eagles effort with wins in the triple jump (39-0) and pole vault (11-0).

Moses Wakefield won the 3,000 (9:49.90) on Friday, breaking away from the lead pack and running the last three laps alone out front.

The small-school state meet runs Thursday and Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene.

View photos from the Valley 10 championships at daveball.exposuremanager.com.

Look for expanded coverage in the Tuesday, May 17, print edition.