Amy Hilger leads a host of Banks girls to the medal podium at the state meet

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: ZACK PALMER - Banks senior Amy Hilger attempts to clear the bar at 5 feet, 6 inches on Friday at the Class 4A track and field state championships at Hayward Field in Eugene. Hilger won her first state title with a clearance of 5-5.EUGENE — The coronation is finally complete for Amy Hilger.

Two years ago, the Banks senior finished third in the girls high jump at the Class 4A track and field state meet. Last season, she took second place.

This year was all about finishing the ascension and climbing onto the top spot of the awards podium at Hayward Field — which is exactly what she did on Friday, knocking off 2013 winner Hosanna Wilder with a jump of 5 feet, 5 inches to claim the first state championship of her career.

“I still can’t really believe that I did it finally,” Hilger said. “It was really cool to finally win at state.”

In an exciting competition, Wilder did not yield her title easily. After entering at 5-0 and clearing every bar on her way up, Hilger missed twice at 5-4 before making the right adjustments to get over on her third and final try.

Meanwhile, Wilder, a Ridgeview sophomore, cleared 5-4 on her first attempt, meaning that Hilger trailed on misses, so if neither jumper went higher, Wilder would repeat.

When the bar moved up an inch, Frank exhorted Hilger to clear 5-5 on her first attempt, noting that he thought that would win it.

Wilder tried first and missed. Frank looked at Hilger, held up a finger and told her, “First jump.”

Hilger gave him a smile and a nod in return, and then went out and cleared the bar.

“That jump at 5-5 was the best jump she did the whole meet,” Frank said. “She was three inches over the bar on that. Everything we’ve seen her do, she put it all together in that jump. That was a beautiful jump.”

In fact, it was a state-title winning jump, too, as Wilder missed twice more at 5-5, giving Hilger what she had so long awaited.

“Being so close sophomore year and then junior year last year, to do it my senior year, to end it that way was a great feeling,” said Hilger, who hopes to jump for Oregon State next year.

Adding to the Banks’ contingent’s joy, Ariel Slifka set a two-inch PR, making 5-0 to tie for fourth place and join Hilger on the awards stand.

“Her technique over the bar improved 1,000 percent over the last about week and a half,” Frank said, “And certainly the week between district and state, it seemed to really kind of click.”

Those two performances propelled Banks to a fantastic start, and Annie Victor closed out the effort Saturday by placing in both the shot put and discus. When it was all said and done, the Braves had amassed 23½ points, good for 10th in the team standings.

North Valley of Grants Pass won with 65 points, and Crook County (46), Marshfield (40) and Sisters (34) also won trophies.

At about the same time as Hilger and Slifka were jumping, Kindel Bailey became the third Brave to post a top-two finish in the meet’s first few hours — Dallin Shurts got Banks started with a win in the boys discus — by finishing second in the javelin to Elmira’s Kelsey Shaw, the reigning champion, whose winning mark of 149-5 came on her sixth and final NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Banks track coach Rob Frank and junior Dallin Shurts share a laugh after Shurts received his medal for winning a state title in the discus.

Bailey was next with a 139-5 effort on her fourth attempt. While that was a touch off her 145-3 PR from the Cowapa League district meet, Bailey put together a solid sequence with four throws beyond 130 feet — farther than any other competitor except Shaw.

“In previous years, I’ve been really stressed out there and I haven’t done so well,” said Bailey, a three-time state meet participant. “But this year, I wasn’t that stressed out, and I don’t really know if the difference was just having more experience there and just knowing what it was like so I wasn’t as worried about it.

“It’s a big venue and there are a lot of people, and it can be a little nerve-wracking.”

Victor wrapped up a decorated high school career by finishing fourth in the discus (124-8) and eighth in the shot (35-4). Both marks were season bests. Victor exits the Banks program as a six-time state meet placer.

In almost 40 years at Banks, Frank said, he could not recall another of his athletes placing at state all four years.

“With Annie, she’s going to be the person that I hold up in front of the throwers that I get as long as my career lasts coaching and say, ‘This is the person that you want to look at what they did for four years in a row, and you want to be that person. You want to be Annie Victor,’” Frank said.

Also representing Banks at state were Lauren Birr (14th, triple jump, 31-8¾), and Morgan Nelson (14th, 400, 1:03.76).

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