Scappoose athletes aim for trophies at state track
Coming home with hardware is never easy.
But that's the goal for the Scappoose High School track and field teams.
The Indians will go into the Class 4A state meet — set for Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene — with a chance to get one or two team trophies.
The boys team, especially, is a contender for the 4A championship. The boys are gunning for as high a finish as possible.
"There's no reason we can't get first. That's how I feel," said senior Ben Cox, one of nine boys who qualified for state at the district meet.
Scappoose, which won the Cowapa League meet for the eighth year in a row, is entered at state in 10 individual events and both relays.
"We've all put in enough work and we all want it, so the sky's the limit for us," Cox said.
Coach David Harley has done his form chart math, and "I've got our boys conservatively scoring in the high 40s" for points, "and maybe the low- to mid-50s, and best case scenario, pushing 60."
State meets are unpredictable, though. They have a lot of moving parts, and other teams can rise and fall as well.
Still, "I think our boys are going to be in the thick of things with probably Crook County, Cottage Grove and La Grande for trophies," Harley said. "Marshfield and North Bend are good teams, too. I've got La Grande, in a worst-case scenario for us, scoring at least 60 points — they're really loaded."
Last year, Marshfield (62), Newport (55), North Bend (47) and Crook Country (40 1/3) were the top four finishers and trophy winners.
In 2014, the Scappoose boys scored 48 points and finished third.
Senior John Kavulich, this year's favorite in the 3,000 and the second-ranked runner in the 1,500, said the boys will let the points fall where they may.
"Just get as many as possible and not hold anything back," he said.
The Indian girls team will have a smaller crew than the boys in Eugene this weekend (six girls will compete in six individual events along with both relays).
But the girls have star power in senior Linnaea Kavulich, the defending 3,000-meter champion and the favorite in that race, as well as the 1,500 this year.
"The disappointing thing last year was that our girls scored 48 points and finished fifth — that's a really high point total for fifth place," Harley said. "This year, I think 50 will win it, so if we can get into the 40s, we might get a trophy. Our girls are going to have to have some things go our way, but it's certainly possible."
Three-time defending 4A girls champion Astoria won state a year ago with 57 points. This year, Philomath, Siuslaw and North Valley are among the leading contenders.
The Scappoose girls hopes begin with Linnaea Kavulich, who will run the 3,000 final at 9 a.m. Friday — the first race of the day and the 4A meet. The 1,500 final is at 1:22 p.m. Saturday, after the opening 4 x 100 relay.
Linnaea Kavulich's best 1,500 clocking of 2018 is nearly nine seconds faster than the No. 2 time, and she has a 14-second margin on the No. 2 girl in the 3,000.
Being a favorite to double (which would be worth 20 team points) is new for the Portland State-bound Kavulich.
"I've never been in this position, but I've been racing well and feeling good," she said. "I'm just going to go down there and run my own race and see what happens.
"I want to not worry about strategy, and focus on myself. When I ran my 1,500 PR this year, there was no one around me and I did that. I think that's the best way to do it."
Going for gold in both distance races may sound taxing, "but it's not any harder than a lot of our workouts," she said. "You don't feel that dead. There is so much excitement, it keeps you going."
The Scappoose girls other strong individual threat to score is sophomore Emma Jones. She qualified for state for the second year — this time in both hurdles races and the long jump, as well as on the 4 x 400 relay team (with Kavulich, sophomore Tess Conway and freshman Leila Jeannis).
Jones' 300 hurdles best of 46.77 this year ranks second in 4A. Sweet Home senior Bethany Gingerich is No. 1 with a 45.22.
Jones fell in that race at state last year.
"I think about that a lot," she said. "I want to do better, and hopefully, make it to the finals and put that behind me."
She advanced to state in an exciting district long jump competition that went back and forth until the end. She finished second in that event, as well as in both district hurdles.
"I think I did well at district," she said, "but I'm ready to try to do better at state and get some more PRs."
The Scappoose girls 4 x 400 squad will go into the state meet with the fourth-best time.
John Kavulich is ranked first in the boys 3,000 and second in the 1,500. His 3,000 best this season is 31 seconds better than his closest competitor, Sisters senior Jordan Pollard. But Pollard owns the better 1,500 time by five seconds.
"It's going to be a real fun race," Kavulich said of the 1,500.
The 3,000 is likely to be one, too.
"I'm basically going out there for a time, racing against the clock," Kavulich said.
Speaking of the Kavuliches, Harley said: "Someone's going to have to run really, really well to beat them. Linnaea hasn't lost to a 4A girl all year. John's only lost to one 4A boy. I think they have all the confidence in the world, and they should. They know how hard they've worked, they know their fitness level, they know their race strategies. They've been doing this four years in a row."
Also highly ranked in 4A from the Scappoose boys team: senior Tevin Jeannis, fourth in the boys 200; sophomore Brisyn Maller, fourth in the 110 hurdles; Cox, fourth in the 300 hurdles; and senior Nate Maller, eighth in the triple jump.
"Tevin is probably feeling as good as he's felt all year. It will be fun to watch him run," Harley said.
And of course, the boys are excited about their relays. The foursome of Cox, Jeannis, junior Connor McNabb and sophomore Tyler Holcomb has the fastest 5A time in the 4 x 100.
"It's a great team. We all care about each other and we're ecstatic about the numbers — we're running better than any team in the last three or four years and we still have one meet to go," Cox said.
The 4 x 400 team (McNabb, sophomore Henry Goldammer, sophomore Josh Lull and Jeannis) ranks No. 5 going into state.
Both the boys and girls teams have momentum from the past several weeks, and both are coming off good showings in the Cowapa championships at St. Helens.
The boys rang up 180 points to win by 54 over runner-up Astoria.
"It's a credit to our boys developing that mindset of, 'Until you beat us, you're not going to beat us,'" Harley said. "They went out thinking they were the best team and they were going to compete like it."
The girls placed second at district with 133 points, trailing Astoria (201) but holding off third-place Valley Catholic (120).
"While the boys were almost right on the number of points we thought they'd score at district, the girls struggled in a couple of areas," Harley said, "and we just couldn't keep up with Astoria's numbers. We just ran out of bodies."
In the Cowapa boys meet, individual titles went to Tevin Jeannis in the 100 and 200 (11.41, PR 22.57), John Kavulich in the 1,500 and 3,000 (4:10.27, 9:12.88), Brisyn Maller in the 100 hurdles (15.69), Cox in the 300 hurdles (PR 40.91) and Nate Maller in the triple jump (40-6).
McNabb was second in the 100 (11.61), Josh Lull took second in the 800 (PR 2:01.98), Brisyn Maller was the runner-up in the 300 hurdles (PR 41.05), Nate Maller was No. 2 in the shot put (48-2 1/2) and Cox was second in the long jump (20-1 1/2, a PR).
Few district meets take place without some disappointment, and this one was no exception for the Indians.
Nate Maller has the second-best 4A javelin throw this season, but had an off day at district, placing fourth (only the top two automatically qualify for state).
Senior Mackenzie Ela took third in the shot put, one of the close misses on the girls team.
"The javelin has been Nate's signature event for four years, and each week this year, he'd thrown farther," Harley said. "He was excited to go throw for a state championship, but the wind was tough at district, and it was just one of those things. Sometimes, performances are just unexplainable. To his credit, he came back and won the triple jump, and he's going to get points for us this week in the shot and triple.
"For Mackenzie, it was disappointing, too, considering how strong she was for us all year."
But now it's on to state for those who were able to earn 4A berths.
And it's time to see what drama unfolds, as it always does, during that magical May weekend at historic Hayward Field.
"We're as healthy as we've been all year," Harley said. "The weather should be near perfect. Everybody's excited to see what we can do."