overline: • Portland teams expect high drama at state track and field championships deck: City schools send strong contenders to compete in Eugene this weekend

Now that the formality of the PIL meet is over, the real drama can begin.

And plenty of drama is expected at the state track and field championships Friday and Saturday in Eugene.

Benson High is the overwhelming favorite to win its fifth straight girls team title in Class 4A.

The Techsters tuned up for state by setting three district records in last week's Portland Interscholastic League meet. Two of the times, in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay, were all-time state bests. Senior Deborah Jones set a district record in the 200 meters.

Jefferson boys sprinter Tracy Harrell jumped into the spotlight by winning the 100 and 200 and running a leg on the winning 4x100 relay team.

And Grant senior Joaquin Chapa won the 800 and 1,500, setting a district record in the 1,500 that might make him the favorite to win at state on the University of Oregon's Hayward Field track.

'That's the event I really want to win,' says Chapa, who will attend Stanford. 'I'm really excited about going to state. It's always the best meet of the year.'

Chapa ran the final leg of the 4x400, as well, and ran the Generals to a team victory. The relay win was enough to give Grant the boys title 144-141 over Benson, which finished second in the 4x400. If Benson had won the 4x400, it would have won the team title.

Benson's girls relay teams will be a big part of the buzz at the state meet.

The Techsters' team of junior Ashley Taylor, senior Brandi Probasco-Canda, sophomore Sara Callier and Jones lowered the all-time state best in the 4x100 to 46.63 seconds, a drop of nearly one second.

Senior Priscilla Chandler replaced Taylor for the 4x400 and that team ran 3:50.41, dropping the state record by nearly two seconds. Benson beat the district meet record by more than six seconds.

Probasco-Canda, the defending state champion in the 400, says the relay teams are primed to run even faster in Eugene.

'We want our records to be around for a while,' she says. 'We want to be able to come back in a few years and see that our records are still up there.'

Jones, the defending state champ in the 100 and 200, led a 1-2-3 Benson sweep of the 100 and 200. The 200 final was so fast that the top six finishers qualified for state.

'This is my senior year, and I'm excited about the state meet,' Jones says. 'I'm definitely going to try to set records at state. If you're a senior and you're from Benson, that better be your mission at state.'

Others had big days at the PIL meet, as well.

Grant junior Lizzy Wild won the 800 in a district record 2 minutes, 15.05 seconds. She led a 1-2-3 sweep in the event for Grant, as Annaliese Chapa and Christine Soma also qualified for state.

Jefferson's sprint crew emerged in the boys meet. Senior Michael Richmond won the 400. Harrell, juniors T.R. Smith and Derrick Deloney and Richmond won the 4x100 in 42.83. Harrell, a tailback, and Smith, a quarterback, play in the backfield for the Jefferson football team.

'That's a pretty fast backfield,' Harrell says. 'We're trying to get more guys from the football team to come out for track so we can have a bigger and better track team.'

Of Jefferson's 35 track athletes, 10 qualified for the state meet.

Joaquin Chapa ran 3:54.09 in the 1,500, but the Generals were more excited, initially, that junior Scott Wall had qualified for state by running 3:59.61. But a video review of the finish moved his time to 3:59.63, and he missed the state meet by .01. He still qualified in the 3,000.

Lincoln senior Mike McGrath, trying to save energy for the Prefontaine Classic, ran just fast enough to finish second in the 800.

McGrath, though, was suffering from the effects of a cold and clearly seemed drained. He ran 4:10.66 in the Pre Classic's Bowerman Mile on Saturday at Hayward Field and now can refocus on winning a state title this weekend.

Notes: Benson senior Dee Johnson won the boys 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles to help the Techmen contend for the team title. É Franklin senior Nate Ketel won the pole vault at 14 feet, 2 inches and had one good attempt at 14-8, which would have been a district record. Ketel says he's happy with his performance but doesn't see himself as a favorite to win the event at state. Sandy's Tommy Skipper has that honor. 'I might be able to win if Tommy no-heights,' Ketel says. 'He's that good.' É Wilson senior Jayson Schmidt won the discus and the shot put to help the Trojans finish third in the boys team race. É Benson senior Chantea Kim won two field events, the javelin and the discus.

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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