GRESHAM – With constant rain beating down on the track for the two-day event, the Central High School and Dallas High School track and field teams competed in the OSAA 5A Track and Field State Championships, held at Mt. Hood Community College May 24-25.
Central’s Sophia Henke started her day off on the first day of the competition by nabbing second place in the high jump, clearing 5-03.00.
The senior’s only goal heading into state was to have fun, and she met that goal.
“I thought it went really good. I was excited to just come out and have fun today because it’s my last high school track meet, but I thought it went really good. I’m just having a lot of fun,” Henke said.
That afternoon, Henke made the podium in long jump, taking eighth place by leaping 16-01.50.
In the triple jump, she landed at 32-10.25 in 11th place.
Senior Jaydon Aydelotte picked up a sixth-place finish in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, clocking 15.67, and took fifth place in the 300-meter hurdles, crossing the line at 40.57.
He didn’t have many expectations going into the race, other than to have a good time and do his best. “I expected just to have the best race that I could with the conditions today, and just to have fun with it and experience one of my last hurdle races,” Aydelotte said. “There wasn’t a lot of expectations but just to do my best.”
He said he was happy with where he placed, but that there were some factors that went against him.
“The guy next to me had some flying elbows, so it made it a little difficult, but it’s part of the race, so it went good otherwise,” he said. “(The weather) makes me more nervous, especially with slipping, like coming out of the blocks, so I was glad I was able to finish the race all the way through.”
Freshman Sophie Bliss made it to the state championships as a wildcard, and took fourth place in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles, coming across the line in 46.76.
Head coach Eli Cirino said he was pleased with how the weekend went.
“It was about like we expected with a few pleasant surprises,” he said. “It was fantastic to have Jaydon (Aydelotte) and Sophia (Henke) finish their careers with two medals. Sophia nearly won the high jump, and Jaydon overcame an athlete falling into his lane, which nearly cost him a chance to run in the 300-meter hurdles. Sophie Bliss getting fourth in the girls’ 300-meter hurdles was a little bit of a surprise. But she has had a fantastic freshman season and broke her own school record.”
Senior Malaki Connella collected two individual state titles over the weekend to close out his final high school track and field meet.
Connella crossed the line in the 200-meters dash in 22.31 for a first-place finish, and toured the track in the 400-meter race in 49.30, clinching a PR along the way.
He also joined senior Andy Van, senior Benjamin Courtney and sophomore Clayton Morrow in the 4x100-meters relay, where the team finished in second place by clocking 43.36.
For his final event of the day, Connella joined senior Trevor Cross, Morrow, junior Antonio Barrientos and Van in the 4x400-meter relay, where the Dragons placed twelfth, clocking 3:37.69.
He said clinching two state titles was exciting.
“I just wanted to have fun with it, I wanted to give it my all and leave everything out there,” Connella said. “It’s my last high school meet, and yeah, I was really excited, and you know, you just don’t want to have any regrets.”
He said he is planning to pursue track and field at Lane Community College.
“I’m looking to do two years there, and then possibly transfer,” he said.
Cross finished out his high school track and field career by PR’ing in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meters races, placing eighth and seventh, respectively.
In the 3,000, he looked utterly exhausted, stopping just short of the finish line, his legs like Jell-O underneath him.
He staggered across the line at 8:45.65.
“Very happy with it; this meet has been great,” Cross said. “The 3,000, except for the ending, I’m happy with how it went. Best I’ve ever done, so that’s a high note to end on – senior year, last high school track meet. This was the fastest I’ve ever run in both races.”
In the 1,500, Cross clocked 4:03.71.
Morrow, who ran in the 100- and 200-meters, as well as both relay races, said his first experience at a state track meet didn’t go as well as he had hoped.
“For pre-lims (in the 100), I false started, and they let me go again, because my feet never left the blocks,” he said. “And, so, it wasn’t a very good race overall because I was scared I was going to false start again, but I tried my hardest, so that’s all that matters. And we got second in the 4x100, so that made me happy.”
Morrow ran to a seventh-place finish in the 100, clocking 11.46, and took eighth in the 200, crossing at 23:51.
“I thought we had a good state meet overall,” said head coach Bill Masei. “I thought our kids competed hard, given the poor weather conditions. We expected as a team to be in trophy contention, top four, for the boys, but needed to do well both days. The future looks bright for our program, and considering we were challenged by not having a track and jumping areas, I thought all our kids performed well this year.”
Overall, the Dragons boys team took ninth place for the weekend, with 35 points. The Central boys team landed in 22nd place, with seven points. On the girls side, the Panthers fell into 20th place, with 14 points.