LEBANON – After an exciting and emotional two days at the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference Track and Field Districts, hosted by Lebanon High School on May 15-16, the Central High School Panthers and Dallas High School Dragons collected a handful of individuals who will move on to the state meet May 24-25 at Mt. Hood Community College.
Two athletes will represent the Panthers at state this weekend: seniors Jaydon Aydelotte and Sophia Henke.
Aydelotte, who has been the reining champion this season in the 110-meter hurdles, claimed the district title on May 16, when he crossed the finish line in 15.34.
In the 300-meter hurdles, he took second place, clocking in a 39.96 and picking up a personal record to add to his resume.
Aydelotte was beaming after the meet.
“(The last two days) have been a whirlwind of fun for me,” he said. “It’s awesome being out for my last time, and taking it all in and competing; it’s been a lot of fun.”
Last year, Aydelotte took fourth at state for the 110-meter hurdles. This weekend will be his last time on the track with the Panthers, and he said he’s excited to finish out his final high school track season.
“I’m looking forward to all the odds being in my favor, and having everything align for me and going all out and knowing that I did my best, and hopefully picking up some PRs along the way,” Aydelotte said.
Sophia Henke, who has gone to state two years in a row in the high jump, has added the long jump to the events in which she qualified for state this year.
She became the district champion in the high jump, where she cleared 5-02.00, and the following day, she claimed first place in the long jump with a mark of 17-01.50 for a PR.
“Yesterday was really, really good, and today (May 16) I was really nervous, and I started off on the wrong foot, but I fixed it, and it ended really well. I felt confident in my performance,” Henke said.
“I’ve gone (to state) for the last two years in high jump, but this is my first time going for two events, so I’m really excited.”
Henke has signed to do track and field at Pacific University in Forest Grove while she pursues a degree in Physical Therapy, which means, just like Aydelotte, her time with the Panthers is quickly coming to an end.
“It’s bittersweet, because I love track, but it’s nice to end on such a high note, and even if I don’t do well at state, it’s going to be fun,” she said.
A total of six athletes will represent the Dragons at the state championships this weekend: sophomore Clayton Morrow, senior Malaki Connella, senior Trevor Cross, senior Benjamin Courtney, sophomore Alex Sims and sophomore Marie Marshall.
For Morrow, he will be going to state for the first time in three events.
“It feels pretty great,” Morrow said. “First time ever.”
Morrow took first place in the 100-meters race and second in the 200-meters races, clocking in at 11.13 and 22.95, respectively, and collectively helped the 4x100 relay team take first, with a time of 43:38.
He said that this season started out a little rough, but once he found his groove, it improved.
“And I still have more time to grow, because I’m a sophomore,” he said.
Last year, Connella, now a senior, was the Dragon’s all-star in the 100 and 200. This year, Morrow was always right on his heels in each event.
“That feels good, because he’s a senior, I’m a sophomore, so it feels really good,” Morrow said. Malaki Connella will join Morrow at state in the 200, where he placed first at districts, crossing the line at 22.43. He was district champion in the 400, clocking a 49.62 for a PR, and will join teammates Morrow, Andy Van and Courtney in the 4x100.
In the 1,500-meters race, Cross toured the track in 4:07, nabbing a PR and second place. In the 3,000-meters, he also found himself in second place, cruising in at 9:02.45.
He was all smiles after his races.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s my first time (going to state) in the 1,500, third time in the 3,000. I’m really excited. I’m happy with how the 1,500 went today: had a plan, I went with it, and it worked to get me to state at least.”
“Run fast,” he said, laughing.
For his final high school track meet, he said he hopes “that all that competition will pull me along. I’m hoping to get another PR. Just have fun with it. I’m not going to worry about it too much, whatever happens. Just excited to go.”
In the field, Courtney landed a 21-08.25 PR in the long jump, claiming a seat at state.
Sims, competing in the para-athlete events, uncorked a 23-06 in the shot put to clinch a spot at state.
Marshall, also competing in the para-athlete events, nabbed a 21:57 in the 100, and a 1:23.00 in the 400. She also unleashed a 14-02.00 in the shot put. Marshall will compete in those events at state.