LEBANON -- Thursday was an exciting day for Polk County as five Dragons and 13 Panthers qualified for state in the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference Track and Field Districts, hosted by Lebanon High School on May 9 and 10.
Overall, Dallas took fourth for the boys team, with 87 points, and sixth place for the girls, at 55 points.
The Panthers boys team scored 100 points, putting them in third, and the girls managed to jump into fifth with 64.33 points.
The final day of districts was met with wind and heavy bouts of rain, but that didn’t seem to stop the athletes from racing toward a spot at state, many of them setting personal records and lifetime bests, according to Central head coach Eli Cirino.
From Dallas, Hailey Van Well, Marie Marshall, Malaki Connella, Evan Courtney and Justin Ingram will head to the state championships at Hayward Field in Eugene Friday and Saturday.
Connella, who has been hard to beat this year, nabbed first place in two events, and in the 4x100, his team was favored to win but they didn’t make the exchange with the baton, automatically disqualifying them from the race.
The state meet greets athletes with mixed emotions, but Dallas head coach Bill Masei is confident.
“The kids have come a long way from the beginning of the year,” Masei said, “and it’s been exciting to see them develop the way they have. I expect all of them to do very well (at state), as most of them will be in position to score points for us.”
Athletes representing CHS at state include: Isaac Burgett, Jaydon Aydelotte, Seth Dickson, Isaiah Abraham, Cody Baldwin, Robert Deleon, Johnathon Brown, Morgan Metzger, Bethanie Altamirano, Samantha Londigan, Ana Becerra, and Sophia Henke.
“As a coach, it’s very exciting and gratifying to have so many of our kids advance to state,” Cirino said. “The growth through the season has been fantastic. We also have a ton of seniors who have been part of this program for four years. The leadership throughout the season was awesome, and we got stronger by the week, despite our injuries.”
Bethanie Altamirano, who was state champion in the 400 last year, said she is looking forward to going to state but has no expectations of herself.
“Last year I focused more on track and not school; I was obsessed with track. This year I was focused more on school, with college and applying to scholarships and everything,” Altamirano said.
Altamirano qualified for state in three events: the 4x100, the 400 and the 200.
Next year, she’ll attend and run at Western Oregon University, where she said she received a scholarship.
For Jaydon Aydelotte, staying calm is the name of the game.
“It’s all been a mental game with me,” he said. “I know I’ve done the conditioning and the work to get here, so for me, it’s relaxing the mind and meditating and just trying to clear my mind and create more space.”
Aydelotte took first place in both the high hurdles and the intermediate hurdles. As he crossed the finish line, you could see the pain of the race transform into a huge smile.
“I feel so excited,” Aydelotte said afterward. “My goal this year was to qualify for both hurdle events and I met that goal, so I’m elated.”