SALEM -- A late addition to Central's track and field team last season, then-freshman Tonya Allison picked up the pole vault as her prime event.
That's still her main focus -- she's currently ranked in the top 10 in the Oregon West Conference -- but late last year, she decided to give the hurdles a try.
"My coach had me try it out because we didn't have any girls (in the hurdles) and I started getting used to it," the sophomore recalled.
As it turns out, she's pretty good at that, too.
Allison took 10th-place -- out of an elite field of 23 runners - in the 300-meter hurdles in Saturday's Meet of Champions at Willamette University.
"Now, I kind of like them," Allison added.
Central coach Eli Cirino said in all reality, Allison is just scratching the surface of an event she hasn't really spent a ton of time training for.
"She really does not do a lot of interval work in practice -- she's primarily been working on the pole vault," Cirino said.
"She loves the pole vault -- but she's developing quickly in the hurdles and she's getting faster and faster."
Allison finished third in her heat with a time of 51.05 seconds in the invitational-only meet hosted by Cascade High School. That time gives her the fourth-best mark in the Oregon West Conference.
"I just like running that race," Allison said of the hurdles. "It's competitive."
Wendy Deptula was the only other Central girl to attend Saturday's meet, taking 16th in the 1,500.
Her time of 5:20.93 was a 9-second personal record.
"She did a ton of work in the summer and kept running after cross-country season, and it's paying off," Cirino said of Deptula.
"That time moves her into the top 10 all-time at Central -- she's pretty excited about that."
On the boys side, Tanner Omlid continued his first-year run with the track and field team, taking fifth place in both the javelin and the long jump Saturday.
Omlid, known primarily for his prowess on the basketball court -- he's headed to play Division I hoops at West Point next season -- decided to join the track team this year instead of playing his normal spring sport, baseball.
Photo by Nicole Watkins
Central’s Tanner Omlid competes in the long jump during Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Willamette University.
He finished fifth in the event with a jump of 20 feet, 5.75 inches.
His decision has paid off.
"Oh, it's been a blast," Omlid said after jumping 20 feet, 5.75 inches in Saturday's meet. "I've enjoyed it a lot."
The senior has found quickly that he's pretty good, too.
He threw two personal-bests in the javelin Saturday -- the last coming on his final throw of 165 feet, 2 inches -- which ranks him first in the Oregon West Conference.
He's also ranked in the top 10 in the long jump (second to Newport's Oshay Dunmore, the reigning Class 4A state runner-up) and the triple jump (fourth).
For Omlid, his toughest opponent is time.
"The pressure is coming from time -- lack of time," Cirino said. "But we're trying to remove the pressure by just telling him, `Hey, you're doing a great job, and we're having fun.'"
Omlid has also competed in the 400 and as a member of the 4 x 400 relay team, but with districts looming it appears he's going to focus on three events -- the long jump, triple jump and javelin.
"When he puts in a couple of days focused on one event, you can see his growth - he adapts so quickly," Cirino added.
"Where other kids take months or years to make these corrections, he's obviously very coachable and such a dynamic athlete. ... He just keeps saying things like, `If I had another year.'"
For now, Omlid just hopes he can make all the adjustments to accomplish his main goal -- reaching the Class 4A state track and field championships on May 25-26.
"I want to make it to state in one of my events -- I don't care which one, I just want to get there," Omlid said.