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Pecsok's big day carries Liberty at invite

What a performance.

On Saturday, Eli Pecsok — one of the Liberty track and field team’s superlative senior girls — posted one of the top performances by any individual at any meet in the state this spring.

All she did was win three events and finish second in another at the Willamette Falls Invitational in Oregon City, putting up marks that ranked in the top 10 in the state at the time, regardless of classification.

“Willamette is always a really fun meet, just because there’s so many different schools and different teams there at different levels, and you always get to compete with familiar faces as well as people you’ve never met before,” Pecsok said. “So it’s just a really good competition.”

While Pecsok’s performance certainly stood out among the competition, the rest of the Liberty girls squad was similarly impressive, showing big-meet capabilities with an additional three top-two finishes to wind up second in the team standings for large schools.

Pecsok’s big day started with the high jump, the only event she contested that she did not win. Competing in a large field of some 40 jumpers, she was still good for second place with a 5-foot, 2-inch clearance, one inch shorter than the height put up by Hermiston’s Mckenzie Byrd.

The result left her a little disappointed, though, so she worked out her frustrations in the 100-meter hurdles. Her inspiration for the event this season comes straight from of the popular Hunger Games book series, she said.

“I pretend like I’m in the Hunger Games and I have to get to the Cornucopia,” explained Pecsok, already a five-time state meet placer. “It’s kind of silly, but it seems to be working for me.”

It did indeed work on Saturday, when Pecsok put up a Class 5A-leading time of 15.92 seconds and won the race by three tenths of a second.

Pecsok’s best mark, perhaps, came in the shot put, where her winning throw of 42 feet, 5½ inches — a PR by nearly two feet — ranked as the state’s second-best this season. Pecsok has now added a whopping 5½ feet to her PR so far this spring. She attributes her improvement to time management during practice so she can focus on technique and time in the weight room to add some muscle, she said.

“It just seems like shot put’s really golden for me this year,” she noted. “So that was really exciting to just get a really good throw in.”

Somehow after all of that, Pecsok still had enough energy to win the triple jump in yet another personal best of 35-6. That mark ranked her third in Class 5A, just three inches behind Northwest Oregon Conference rival Kylie Reinholdt of St. Helens.

Not surprisingly, Pecsok has designs on qualifying for the Class 5A state meet in four events this season, which could be good practice for her college career. She is currently deciding whether to attend the U.S. Naval Academy or Oregon State, which both have track and field programs interested in her heptathlon potential.

“Whenever you get to go to Hayward Field to compete, it’s always a really good experience,” she noted about the state meet venue. “Four events, qualifying in state would almost be a dream come true.”

Another Liberty standout, Sarah Martinez, finished first in one event and second in two others. The senior speedster took second place in both the 400 (1:00.20) and the 300 hurdles (48.44). She combined with Megan Rose, Ashley Martin and Rachel Khaw to take the 4x400 relay in a meet record and Class 5A-leading time of 4:07.43.

Other top performers for the Falcons girls included Tessa Moody (third, 62-5) and Kailey Pool (fourth, 60-0) in the hammer throw, an event rarely contested at the high school level; MacKenzie Beeler in the 100 (sixth, 13.40); the 4x100 relay of Beeler, Bonnie Romeo, Martinez and Martin (sixth, 52.39); Tiana Dolson, in the triple jump (seventh, 32-6½); and Rose in the 400 (eighth, 1:02.36).

The Liberty boys got runner-up finishes from Josh Cole (400, 51.66), Michael Francy (1,500, 4:09.92) and Jon Horn (hammer, 106-3). Horn added an eighth-place in the shot put (44-5).

Other top-eight finishers for the Falcons included Tommy Keplinger in the hammer (third, 91-1), Nick Bonat in the 300 hurdles (fifth, 42.91), and the 4x400 relay team of Dominick Marshall, Austin Finster, Francy and Cole, (sixth, 3:32.14).

Led by Braanna Weber and Martyna Adamiec, city rival Century also participated in the meet. Weber, a junior, finished fifth in the 3,000 in 11:06.36, while Adamiec cleared 5-0 for fifth in the high jump.

Other top performers for Century’s girls included Kassandra Morrison in the pole vault (sixth, 8-6) and Natalie VanDomelen in the triple jump (10th, 32-0½).

Angel Salazar led Century’s boys with two top-eight finishes. The Jaguars’ sophomore distance ace took seventh in both the 1,500 (4:15.75, a personal best) and the 3,000 (9:28.32).

Austin Albert wound up eighth in the javelin (160-2), while Jatarus Jones was a solid 10th in the triple jump (39-11).

Both Liberty and Century will be back in action this Saturday. Century is scheduled compete in the Wilsonville Invitational, while Liberty will make an appearance at the Oregon Relays in Eugene.



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