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Track and field: North Marion's Hannah Waite, Christian Parr head to state meet as district champions

by: JEFF GOODMAN / PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - North Marion senior Hannah Waite clears the final hurdle of the girls 300-meter hurdles race May 17 at North Marion High School, where she won Tri-Valley Conference track and field district titles in both hurdles races.AURORA — It used to be that no matter how fast Hannah Waite ran, she always seemed to be chasing Claire Thomas.

But ever since the graduation of the former Molalla star, Waite has experienced what it’s like to have no one in front of her.

And she doesn’t mind one bit.

The senior won district titles in both of her hurdles races to lead the North Marion track and field team at the Tri-Valley Conference championships May 16-17 at North Marion High School.

“(Thomas) used to run in front of me, so I would just try to catch up to her,” Waite said. “It’s weird that now I’m kind of in the front — I don’t really have anybody to catch up to. It’s very different. But I like it. It’s more on my own, more independent.”

Waite had qualified for the Class 4A state meet in each of the last two seasons, but never as a league champion. This year, she’ll lead the Huskies to Hayward Field in Eugene for OSAA competition after two first-place finishes.

She won the girls 100-meter hurdles race with a career-best time of 15.56 seconds, defeating La Salle Prep runner-up Courtney Crain (16.51) by almost a full second.

She also crossed the finish line first in the 300 hurdles with a time of 46.48 — three-hundredths shy of her personal record and nearly a second ahead of Crain (47.42).

Waite will enter the 4A championships with the top seed in the 300 hurdles, just ahead of Ridgeview senior Dakota Steen (46.51). She’s tied for first atop the state-meet rankings in the 100 hurdles with Henley senior Willow Charlton.

Now more than ever, state titles feel within reach for Waite.

“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t really sure, but then I got up there and got like two seconds shaved off,” she said. “I’m really excited.”

Several other North Marion athletes earned state bids with their performances at the district meet.

Christian Parr captured a league title in the boys 800, clocking a career-best time of 1 minute 58.57 seconds to defeat La Salle Prep runner-up Logan Veasy (2:02.66) by more than four seconds. The senior is seeded third in 4A behind Central senior Zane West (1:57.94) and Sisters senior Brandon Pollard (1:58.55).

Standout sophomore Aaron Caballero was one-hundredth of a second away from a conference title in the boys 100, clocking in at 11.61 seconds to finish behind Gladstone junior Eric Prom (11.60).

Junior sprinter Hannah Schweighardt sealed a state berth with a runner-up finish in the girls 100, logging a season-best 12.93 to finish behind Estacada junior Tori Johnson (12.64).

Huskies senior Veronica Norris punched a ticket to the OSAA meet by clearing a bar of 4 feet 10 inches in the girls high jump, where Johnson (5-1) seized the district title.

Waite, Schweighardt, Norris and senior Tia Hunt earned a state spot in the girls 400-meter relay with a time of 51.24 seconds, edging Estacada (51.66) for second place behind La Salle Prep (50.57).

North Marion, which took fourth place in the boys team standings and fifth on the girls side, was maddeningly close to securing 10 additional state bids.

Third-place district finishers on the boys side included Caballero in the 200, senior Ben Hanberg in the 400, freshman Ammon Suchanski in the high jump and both relay squads.

On the girls side, third-place finishers included Waite in the 100, Schweighardt in the 200, junior Angela Sprecher in the discus and shot put and junior Marisa Jones in the triple jump.

***

AT A GLANCE

Tri-Valley Conference track and field district championships

May 16-17 at North Marion High School

Boys: 1. La Salle Prep, 193; 2. Gladstone, 137; 3. Molalla, 132; 4. North Marion, 76; 5. Estacada, 63; 6. Madras, 53.

Girls: 1. La Salle Prep, 156.5; 2. Estacada, 133; 3. Molalla, 132; 4. Gladstone, 114.5; 5. North Marion, 87; 6. Madras, 27.

GOING TO STATE

Girls: Hannah Waite (100 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Hannah Schweighardt (100), Veronica Norris (high jump), Waite/Schweighardt/Norris/Hunt (short relay).

Boys: Christian Parr (800), Aaron Caballero (100).