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Courtney Vacek wins a state title in her first trip to Hayward Field

EUGENE — One season of track, one state title.

That’s what Glencoe junior Courtney Vacek can say for herself after last weekend’s Class 6A track and field state meet at Hayward Field.

Vacek proved herself the class of Saturday’s girls triple jump field, recording the two longest jumps of the competition and three of the four best marks overall en route to her first state title.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Glencoe junior Courtney Vacek competes in the girls triple jump competition Saturday en route to a state title at the Class 6A track and field state meet.

“It feels pretty good,” Vacek said after picking up her gold medal. “I’m kind of surprised, I guess. I was nervous about the competition.”

The win earned 10 points for the Glencoe, which tied for 23rd place behind Central Catholic (54 points).

Vacek came in with the longest jump in the state regardless of the classification, and she lived up to the billing.

“What I told her ... when we got here was that she earned that last jump spot,” Glencoe coach Dennis Rice said, referring to Vacek’s spot in the jumping order as the top seed. “And I told her to be the confident and the competitive athlete that she is, that I knew she’d do well.”

Vacek was at her best early in the competition, which was staged Saturday morning. After scratching on her first attempt, which she said did not phase her much, her next effort was a great one.

The junior popped a 38 foot, 6 inch effort, which eventually stood up as the winner. She also went 38-3½ on her third jump, which also would have been good enough to win.

Barlow’s Danelle Woodcock, Friday’s long jump winner, finished second with a leap of 37-8½, a personal record.

“It was really cool. I like the field a lot, and I like having an audience,” Vacek said about competing at Hayward Field for the first time. “It creates good pressure situations kind of like gymnastics, so it was a comfortable feeling for me.”

The state title capped a remarkable rise this season by Vacek, a track and field rookie. She has an extensive gymnastics background, and Rice originally had designs to make her a pole vaulter, a common event for ex-gymnasts.

But Vacek had rotator cuff surgery on her right shoulder late last year — something Rice said wound up as “a blessing in disguise,” as the shoulder still was not ready for vaulting this spring. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZACK PALMER - Century junior Austin Albert competes in the boys javelin Saturday at the Class 6A track and field state championships. Albert finished sixth with a throw of 175-4.

The pole vault’s loss turned out to be the triple jump’s gain. After never having heard of the event prior to winter workouts, Vacek broke the school record in her first meet and only got better from there. The week before state at the Pacific Conference district meet in Newberg, Vacek went 38-7 on her final attempt to win. That mark set a meet record and is still the longest jump this spring among Oregon girls.

“I had no idea what I was doing. We were practicing at the gym,” Vacek recalled about her earliest exposures to the event. “I was doing everything totally wrong, and I knew it. It was like, well, we’ll just keep up with this and see how it goes. We watched a lot of videos. I didn’t even try it until the first meet, and then it ended up OK.”

No kidding: Vacek’s 38-7 ties for the 11th-longest mark in Oregon prep history.

Vacek, Rice pointed out, is the first Tide athlete to win a state track title since Glencoe moved up from Class 5A in the fall of 2010.

Leah McClain also represented Glencoe’s girls at state, finishing ninth in the 300-meter hurdles in a personal-best time of 45.66. The junior was just 0.09 seconds away from making the eight-runner final.

On the boys’ side, the Tide’s Mason Rouches finished sixth in the 3,000 meters to score three points, which put Glencoe in a tie for 33rd place with Century and Hillsboro. Rouches ran with the lead pack for most of the way before finishing in 8:51.69 in his first race at Hayward Field.

“I’m very happy with my place, especially because last year I would (have) never even thought I would maybe qualify for state this year,” Rouches said. “It’s really awesome to be on all-state now.”

Austin Albert scored Century’s three points by picking up a sixth place in the javelin. The junior got into the meet as a wildcard, and he made good on the chance while he was there, twice breaking his personal record and throwing 175-4 on his third attempt to land a spot on the awards stand.

Representing the Jaguars girls, Braanna Weber took 12th in the 800 preliminaries in 2:23.74.

Will McCourt and Hao Pham, of Glencoe and Century, respectively, also competed at state for their schools. Both boys no-heighted in the pole vault.

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