Hillsboro sophomore Anna Dean, the youngest of seven children, could well be the best of the bunch
In 2012, Anna Dean had the kind of season that many high school track and field participants hope to achieve by the time they are seniors. Except last year, she was just a freshman.
Competing for Hillsboro, Dean made quite an impression in her debut season by winning Pacific Conference district meet titles in the 100 meters and 100-meter hurdles, as well as anchoring the Spartans victorious 400-meter relay to a school-record time. She also finished as runner-up in the 300 hurdles, qualifying for the Class 6A state meet in the maximum four events. Her efforts helped Hilhi win the district meet title by just 1½ points.
Participating in the state meet at Hayward Field in Eugene can be an intimidating experience even for seasoned athletes. But Dean continued to demonstrate poise beyond her years last May by making the finals in all of her events. Along with teammates Cassidy Estep, Kylee Taube and Daphne Stanfield, she placed fourth in the short relay. And she finished fifth in the high hurdles and seventh in both the 100 and the low hurdles.
Coming into high school, I was expecting to do well, but not as well as I did, because I knew there was going to be a lot more competition (than in middle school), Dean said last week. Theres a lot more people out for track, everyones faster. So I didnt know what to expect until my first couple meets, and then I was winning all my races. It didnt really seem like it was real to me at first.
But it was real, and after her bravura performance last year, Dean has established herself as one of the Pacific Conference athletes to watch this season in track, which is starting to crank up this week with the first meets of 2013.
Dean will still be spending plenty of time in the sprints and hurdles this season, but she may be adding the triple jump to her repertoire as well, possibly in place of the 300 hurdles.
When Dean, now 16, turned out for track a year ago, she was not a complete neophyte. She already had two years of experience under her belt at the middle school level.
In eighth grade, she blew kids out of the water in those junior high track meets, but you dont really know what thats going to look like at the high school level, said Deans older sister, Britany, a 2005 Hilhi graduate and an assistant coach for the Spartans this spring. So I think we were all pretty taken back by how well she did last year, but it was really exciting.
Perhaps she was just ready for her turn after having spent years watching her older siblings compete.
I remember being at meets at Hare Field with my parents, and I remember we would always get our blankets and come and watch all the family members, Anna recalled.
In fact, Deans success may not come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the Dean family. Anna the youngest of seven children comes from a long line of siblings that has bolstered the Hilhi track and field program for well more than a decade.
Grant Dean, a 2004 Hilhi graduate who is now 26, set the family standard early as a sprinter and jumper, winning the Class 4A state title in the long jump as a senior.
Britany, 25, won two league titles in the pole vault, qualified for state in that event and in the short relay a total of four times and also was a solid triple jumper.
Rachel, 22, was a multi-time league finalist in the hurdles and relays, and Jordan, 20, also sprinted for the Spartans.
Spencer, 18, placed fourth in the district meet last season, and is one of the top returners for the Hilhi boys this spring.
Only Nick, 24, did not run track for the school, though he did wrestle.
And then there is Anna, who Hilhi coach Tim Kasper said was the schools first four-event state qualifier since Erin Kelly a four-time state champion in the high hurdles and triple jump in 1998.
As for Spencer, who is getting to observe his little sisters early high school career from up close as a teammate, he knows where she is already fitting into the family legacy.
The first one and the last one are probably the two best ones, said Spencer, referring to Grant and Anna. So we went in strong, went out strong. Im definitely happy for her and Im excited to watch her when shes a senior.
Of course, Dean will play a considerable role in the Hilhi girls success this season, but she is not the only standout on the team, which tied for seventh at state a year ago.
Relay mates Estep and Taube, finalists in the 100 and 200 at the 2012 district meet, are back this season, as is Erika Moellmer, a state qualifier in the pole vault. District placers Tanya Jones (third, 800) and Lauren Lykins (fifth, 3,000; seventh, 1,500) will offer support in the mid-distance and distance races.
On the track we have some quality back, Kasper said.
Besides Moellmer in the pole vault, the Spartans have some holes to fill in the field events after graduating two-time high jump state champion Michelle Ellis and thrower Sydney Johnson, the state runner-up in the discus.
As for the boys team, which finished toward the bottom of the league standings in 2012 while competing a number of young athletes, Spencer Dean returns in the sprints and long jump, as do high hurdlers finalists Adrian Arteaga and Michael Gaskell.
A year ago in the district meet, Tim McSpadden was seventh in the 3,000 and Michael Gonzalez took seventh in the long jump, while classmate Ben Speer was eighth in the javelin.
Kasper also expects sprinter Adam Morton to contribute. He ran a leg on the Spartans fourth-place relay team, along with Dean, Gaskell and Gonzalez.
Logan Stugart throws the shot and discus, while Christian Jackson was ninth at districts in the javelin.
These are exciting times for the Liberty track and field program. More than 100 kids have turned out for the team this year, Falcons coach Perry Beeler said.
Theyre looking really good, Beeler said. The kids that we got out, theyre all enthusiastic, theyre all working hard.
For the girls second at the Northwest Oregon Conference district meet last spring sprinters Ashley Martin and MacKenzie Beeler return this season after helping the short relay finish sixth at the state meet.
Martin was third in the 100 at districts, and Beeler finished third in the long jump and fifth in the 100. Eli Pecsok won the high hurdles and high jump at districts and made the state finals in the hurdles, while Sarah Martinez was a state finalist in the 400 and Tiana Dolson was ninth in the long jump.
Beeler is excited to welcome back Hannah Langbehn, a former state meet participant and sprinter/jumper who suffered a season-ending injury last year, and is looking for big things from Simone Wilson, the school record holder in the javelin.
Freshman Rachel Khaw, second in the NWOC district meet and 10th in the Class 5A cross country state meet this past fall, offers a lot of potential in the distance events.
On the boys side, in 2012, James Marshall and Matthew Langbehn finished 3-4 in the 400 meters in the district meet.
And just a junior, John Horn is the school record holder in the three throwing events. Horn took second place in the javelin at districts and eighth at state last year. He also was sixth in the shot put at districts, while Nick Bonat recorded top-five finishes in both hurdles races as just a freshman.