Hilhi junior Anna Dean defends her state title in the 100-meter hurdles

EUGENE — Anna Dean was clutch once again.

The Hillsboro superstar showed great form for the second consecutive week last Friday and Saturday in the meet that mattered most: the Class 6A track and field state championships at Hayward Field. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro junior Anna Dean reacts after crossing the finish line Saturday and defending her Class 6A state title in the girls 100-meter hurdles.

Putting an exclamation point on an outstanding junior season, Dean not only posted three top-three finishes over the weekend, but she also defended her 100-meter hurdles title in dominating fashion and made the finals in all four of her events for the third consecutive year.

“Besides the hurdles, there wasn’t really a state title opportunity there for me last year,” Dean said after the awards ceremony for her final event. “This year was really cool to just experience the places I got — third, second, first and eighth. I keep improving and I’m not regressing at all.”

Indeed, Dean just keeps getting better with experience.

Her bravura performance helped the Spartans finish in the top 10 in the overall team standings for the second year in a row. Hilhi scored 27 points for 10th place. Central Catholic used a victory in the last event of the meet, the 4x400 relay, to pull ahead of Grant 54-53 for the state title.

While other Spartans chipped in points, the weekend truly belonged to Dean, one of the stars of the meet.

After advancing out of Friday’s preliminaries in all three of her individual events, she kicked off Saturday’s finals by running the leadoff leg of the Spartans’ 4x100 relay, which entered the meet as the top seed and posted its second consecutive third-place result. That quartet, including Krissy Thomas, Kennedy Taube and Kylee Taube, finished in 48.21 seconds, behind repeat champ Barlow (47.74) and Central Catholic (47.99).

“Going in, it was one of those things where we just had to put our hearts in the right place and run the best we could,” Dean said. “Finishing third, it was not disappointing, because third place is still awesome.”

Dean’s day got even better in her next event, the 100, in which she placed second to Oregon City senior Becca Houk. The Pioneer just held off Dean with a lean at the finish line, finishing in 12.04 to Dean’s 12.08, a time just off Kelly Jones’ 1974 school record of 12.04.

Earlier on in the season, Dean said, she had a goal to make the 100 final — she was fourth last year. Then she ran a 12.22 in the final of the Pacific Conference district meet, a time she felt should be able to qualify for the state final with relatively little trouble.

She really started to believe she could win a title in the 100 after dropping a 12.09 in Friday’s preliminaries to lead all qualifiers.

And she almost did win it. In the final, Houk held a slight edge late in the race, but Dean closed and almost hauled her in at the line for her third personal best of the meet.

“It was really cool running that time,” Dean said. “Even though I got second in the 100, I’m so pleased to finish the season off with the time that I did.”

The 100 hurdles race was nowhere near as close.

In quite a contrast to last year’s final, which Dean won by a hundredth of a second, the junior pulled away early in this one, winning by daylight. In a race often decided by tiny fractions of a second, Dean’s time of 14.44 was an incredible 0.59 faster than that of runner-up Leah Russell of Gresham.

So far out front, Dean knew she had the race won at the end, breaking into a big smile after crossing the finish line.

“I had to really just think of it as any other race. I just attacked the hurdles,” Dean said. “I didn’t know where the girls were ... so I just kept running my hardest.”

Dean joined Erin Kelly as a two-time high hurdles champion for Hilhi. Kelly won her titles in 1996 and 1998.

A bit fatigued in her seventh hard race in roughly 30 hours, Dean wrapped up her meet with an eighth place in the 200 (25.91). She had set a PR of 25.55 in Friday’s preliminaries. Houk completed the 100-200 double by winning in 24.72.

“It’s just really hard on my body, but mentally I was prepared and ready, and I trained the best I could all year, so this was the place I deserved to be in,” Dean said about her weekend’s efforts.

Thomas also scored points for Hilhi as an individual, beating out Dean for seventh in the 200 (25.72). The sophomore also competed in the 100 — just missing the final in ninth place in 12.61 — and as a member of the Spartans’ 4x400 relay team. Lauren Lykins, Kennedy Taube, Kylee Taube and Thomas finished 11th there in 4:06.30.

Kennedy Taube, the Pacific Conference 400 champion, would have made that event’s final, but she was disqualified during Friday’s preliminaries for running on the line.

Mikayla Webb added a 10th place in the discus with a best throw of 101 feet, 10 inches.

For the Spartans boys, Cricket Browning led the way with a sixth place in the 400 (50.61). He scored three points for the Spartans, who tied for 33rd place.

Michael Gonzalez and Conner Yazzolino also competed. Gonzalez took 11th place in the long jump (19-4¼), while Yazzolino was 12th in the triple jump (39-10½).

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