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In only her third race since returning from injury and illness, the BYU-bound senior easily defended her title for the second year in a row during Saturday's OSAA track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene

by: JIM BESEDA/MOLALLA PIONEER - Molalla's Emily Bever won her third consecutive Class 4A girls' 800-meter run state title in a time of 2 minutes, 16.87 seconds during Saturday's finals of the OSAA track and field championships at Eugene's Hayward Field.Emily Bever’s strategy was to run an aggressive first lap and see if any of the other seven finalists wanted to go with her.

Nobody did.

And nobody could catch the Molalla senior on the second and final lap, either.

Bever claimed her third consecutive Class 4A girls’ 800-meter run state title Saturday as she finished more than two seconds ahead of Zoe Falk of Sisters with a winning time of 2 minutes, 16.87 seconds during the OSAA track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Of her three titles, Bever said this one meant the most, because this is her senior season, but also because of the uncertainty heading into only her third 800 race since coming back from a torn hamstring and a bout with the flu.

“I’ve overcome a lot more to get where I’m at,” Bever said. “I’ve just had the most minimal training for the past three weeks to get here and race. I felt so unprepared. I just had to rely on my experience and my previous training to get me through.

“It was definitely a test of my faith and myself.”

The BYU-bound senior had posted faster times in winning her two previous state titles, but she didn’t go into Saturday’s race expecting to set a personal record or make a run at the meet record of 2:12.78 set by Philomath’s Brianna Anderson-Gregg in 2003.

Bever just wanted to defend her title.

“Like any other determined athlete, I came here to win,” Bever said. “I didn’t come to be second place, but I wasn’t sure that it would happen. So, I’m not surprised. I’m just really thankful that I pulled through.”

Bever, who finished second behind Philomath's Charlie Danielson in Friday's preliminaries, went to the lead off the start and completed the first lap in 65 seconds, which was right in line with her strategy.

"I imagined myself taking my first 400 fast, deciding who was gutsy enough to stay with me," Bever said. "I was debating whether to kick with 300 to go or with 200. I ended up surging a little bit at the 300, and then just tried to push by last 200 really hard."

-- Jim Beseda / jbeseda@molallapioneer.com

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