• Benson girls set more records and win the school's fifth consecutive team title

EUGENE Ñ With the state title never in doubt, the Benson girls track and field team competed against itself.

The Techsters performed fairly well in the OSAA Class 4A championships, setting meet records in the 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter and 4x400 relays.

But their expectations were very high for the weekend, and they left Hayward Field late Saturday exhausted and somewhat disappointed, despite having won the team title for the fifth straight year.

'I'm happy it's over with,' senior Deborah Jones said with a smile. 'I'm a little disappointed with the results because I really wanted to get the 100 record and smash the 200 record.

'But we won, and I always love to win.'

Fellow senior Brandi Probasco-Canda's shoulders slumped when she got to the finish of the 4x400 relay and realized that her team hadn't lowered the record they had set the day before.

'We were aiming for 3:47, but it was a long day,' she said after her team won in 3 minutes, 50.38 seconds. 'I'm sad that my days of competing here are over but satisfied with the records we set.'

Between them, Jones and Probasco-Canda won 12 and 11 individual and relay state titles, respectively, in four years. Jones set the meet record in the 200, 24.64, on Saturday, breaking a mark set in 1979 by Lincoln's Robin Marks. Probasco-Canda set the 400 meet record, 54.64, last year.

Jones won this year's 100 in 12.00, missing the meet record by .10.

Jones and Probasco-Canda led Benson to the 4x100 meet record, 46.57, in Saturday's finals and to the 4x400 record, 3:49.97, during a qualifying run on Friday. The Techsters won the 4x400 in 3:50.38 on Saturday. The old meet record was 3:53.36.

Benson coach Leon McKenzie has been trying to impress on his athletes the magnitude of their achievements.

'I think it's going to take a few years for it to sink in just what they've been able to accomplish here,' he said. 'I think they're going to be really proud of what they've done whenever they come back here.'

Jones is headed for Texas Christian, while Probasco-Canda will compete for Washington State.

Exciting races abound

Jefferson won the boys 4x100 relay in 42.41 and celebrated the school's first event win in seven years, which the runners said helped salvage some respect for the high expectations the school has in athletics.

'We didn't win the state title in football, and we didn't win state in basketball, but we won one in track,' junior Derrick Deloney said. 'We wanted to win to get some respect for our school.'

Juniors T.R. Smith and Tracy Harrell pointed to senior Michael Richmond as an inspiring figure for the relay team. Richmond was the school's boys sportsperson of the year at the Portland Interscholastic League banquet last week.

Grant senior Joaquin Chapa won the 1,500 on a last-lap duel with teammate Alec Wall and Central Catholic junior Galen Rupp. It was Chapa's first title, and it came on the track where his father, Rudy Chapa, competed for the University of Oregon.

'It's like a 10-ton weight has been lifted off my shoulders,' Joaquin Chapa said. 'I'm so happy to have won at least one title here.'

Lincoln senior Mike McGrath had similar comments after edging Chapa in the 800, the event in which he set the state's all-time best more than a month ago. A nagging cold kept McGrath from making an attempt at lowering his mark of 1:48.56. He won in 1:51.27.

'Everyone around me talked about the record time, but my main goal was just to win a title,' McGrath said. 'I didn't want to go out too fast and then not have anything left for the finish, especially with how I've been feeling.'

Rupp won the 3,000 on Friday, outdueling Wall on the final lap.

The efforts of Wall and Chapa helped Grant finish third behind first-place Sandy and Beaverton.

St. Mary's sophomore Ashley Salvino capped the meet by clearing 12 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault, a meet record by more than a foot. She got the benefit of having the remaining crowd focused on her because her event was still going when the 4x400 relays ended.

'This atmosphere is really conducive to success,' said Salvino, who no-heighted in the event last year. 'I'm so excited to have won.'

Benson looks forward

McKenzie, who has been Tech's track coach for 19 years, said he looks at Jones and Probasco-Canda as daughters and thinks they have plenty of room to improve in college.

And the Techsters will be OK next year, too. Sophomore Sara Callier ran on both relays, finished third in the 200 and took fourth in the 100. Junior Ashley Taylor ran the 4x100 relay and was second in the 100. Junior Gabrielle Parker was fourth in the 300 hurdles and was an alternate on both relays. And freshman Alex Jones ran the 4x400.

'Next year, we're going to have to work a lot harder to win the team title again, but that's going to be fun,' McKenzie said. 'It's going to be harder, but we're going to have some weapons.

'We're not bankrupt here.'

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