By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Grizzlies fight through rain for state

“Can’t say enough about our girls,” Downs said Friday. “They scored much better than anybody thought.”

The McMinnville girls team was actually leading after the first day of competition Thursday and led well into Friday before Tigard’s overwhelming numbers finally edged the Grizzlies. The Tigers won the girls team title with 123.5 points, beating out Mac, which had 117.5. Tigard also won the boys team title, outscoring Mac 142-127.

Despite the runner-up finishes, the Grizzlies took down a couple of school records, etched their names into the top 10s of quite a few different events and qualified 14 athletes total for the 6A state track and field championships, which get under way Friday morning at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Mac’s 4x100-meter boys relay team finally took down the school record, which had stood since 2002. The team of Spencer Payne, Tanner Scanlon, Taylor Vicknair and Kane Kennedy ran a blistering 42.64 seconds to break the record by 0.06 and win the district title.

“It’s about time,” said Payne, who added they had been agonizingly close all season.

“It all came together,” said Vicknair, who ran the third leg of the relay and handed the baton to Kennedy.

Kennedy was also a part of the other school-record performance. In a pouring rain, Kennedy and Newberg’s Jonathan Bos set a fast pace in the 400 meters, easily outdistancing themselves from the field. In the homestretch, Bos nosed Kennedy at the finish by 0.04. Kennedy finished in 48.67, tumbling across the finish line and laying still with his hands on his head for a few moments. The time was a school record, beating Marc Benton’s 48.74 from 2002.

The more concerning moment, though, was that Kennedy was so exhausted from the 4x100 and 400, that he pulled up short in the 200 final and then was scratched from the boys 4x400 relay team that could have qualified for state if he was running. Downs said Kennedy should be alright for state Friday.

“He’ll be alright. Just over exerted himself in that 400,” he said. “Kane ran a really fast 4x1, and he had to exert himself in the 400 to be in the hunt. He wanted to win it. … He was going for it, no doubt about it.”

While the Mac’s boys sprinters didn’t enjoy the success it had worked all season to achieve (Payne finished third in the 100 and fourth in the 200, and the 4x400 ran six seconds slower than its best to finish fourth), there were enough highlights to keep it from overshadowing the meet. The Mac girls scored 51 points Thursday behind four first-place finishes.

Freshman Montanna Gubrud won the girls long jump championship with a mark of 17 feet that was fifth best in school history. Junior Lucy Bellville easily won the girls high jump with a mark of 5 feet in a hectic hour that saw her trading jumps in long jump and high jump as well as running a heat in the 100-meter hurdles.

Just next to the high jump, sophomore Bethany Mohler won the girls javelin with a mark of 121-8. Mohler said she learned from her experiences competing in bigger meets this year like the Oregon and Jesuit Relays.

“I came in ranked first,” Mohler said, “but at Jesuit I was ranked pretty high and ended up finishing pretty low. I understood anyone could take it if they wanted it. I was just trying to put a good mark up.”

Freshman Whitney Rich finished the night for the girls by winning the 3,000 in 10:39.65. That was a personal best and fourth best in school history. It was the fastest time run by a McMinnville girl since 1998. Rich was challenged in the final two laps by Lauren Lykins of Hillsboro, but she picked up the pace down the stretch to win by 10 seconds.

“I judge how far people are behind me by the people cheering for them,” Rich explained after the race, “so when I heard everyone cheering for her right when they were cheering for me, I was scared. Then at the end, I looked back and knew I easily had her.”

Taylor Petersen also won the girls 400, running it in 59.28. It’s the third year in a row a Mac girl has won the 400, and fourth time in the last five years. Ashante Horsley won the first three for Mac from 2009-12.

“She’s a huge idol,” Petersen said, “so just knowing she left and I got to take it for her feels great.”

On the boys side, junior Nic McDaniel won the 1,500 meters in 4:16. McDaniel laid in wait for the first two laps of the race, falling all the way back to the 15th. In the third lap he moved to the outside and started moving forward, using a burst at the start of the bell lap to take the lead and cruise to the win.

Scanlon also impressed in the 300 hurdles. He burst out of the blocks and finished in 39.08, which is 0.04 off the Mac record. He’s only the second Mac hurdler to break 40 seconds.

“I was just going to go all out and see what I had in the tank at the end,” Scanlon said.

Tim Tatton is going to state in two events. He won the discus with a mark of 149-2, and he finished second in the javelin with a personal best 176-1.

Vicknair also qualified for state by finishing second in the 110-meter hurdles. Ronnie Graham ran a great 3,000 meters to finish second in 9:09.71 to also qualify for state.

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