By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Reaching new heights

Track and field coaches across Yamhill County have enjoyed three happy weeks of sunshine and outdoor activity.

In turn, track and field athletes have responded with improved conditioning and technique. Yamhill County athletes have competed in one of two area meets – the Class 3A West Valley League Icebreaker at Dayton and the Jim Barks Grizzly Bear Open at Wortman Stadium in McMinnville, both on March 20 – and have largely excelled.

“For the first meet of the year, it was really surprising how many (personal records) we had, how many state leaders we had,” McMinnville track and field coach Vic Downs said. “Last year, we didn’t start off as strong. We had to work our way up.”

The Grizzlies had a highly successful 2013 season that culminated in a pair of second-place finishes at the Class 6A Pacific Conference championships. McMinnville has lost sprinters Spencer Payne, Kane Kennedy, Taylor Vicknair and Haley Pattishall to graduation but retains a large – 199 students are out for track and field – and diverse squad.

“This could be a really big year for our boys,” Downs said. “It’s looking like that right now. It’s a whole new ball game after what I saw (at the Grizzly Bear Open). I think our boys can win a league title.

“The girls keep surprising me. We just went off in the district meet (last season). You never know what they’re going to do.”

Leading the way for the boys is senior field athlete Tim Tatton, who broke his school record in the discus (165 feet, 6 inches) and Daniel Harmon’s javelin school record (179-11) at the Grizzly Bear Open, winning both events. Tatton, an OSAA Class 6A state championships scorer last season, holds the state’s best discus mark by over 15 feet and also has the third-best javelin throw of the nascent season. In addition to Tatton, senior David Ingham has emerged as a consistent thrower in the shot put and the discus.

Senior Nic McDaniel finished sixth in Class 6A in the 1,500 meters (4:03.67) last season and returns to the track after a state-qualifying cross country season. McDaniel, a distance specialist, put in some speed work at the Grizzly Bear Open with a 1:57.45 800-meter race, the state’s second-fastest mark. Senior Wes Noble, sophomore Devon Wilson and junior Liam McKeegan have also posted strong early-season marks among the Grizzlies’ deep distance corps.

Senior Cameron Marcom and junior Clayton Maves lead a very deep sprint corps, and senior Bryce Anderson has provided an added dimension in his first season out for track and field in the high jump. Anderson cleared 6-5 at the Grizzly Bear Open to win the first official high school event of his life.

“I’m standing there going, wow,” Downs said. “This guy can really jump. He’s a natural.”

Senior Tanner Scanlon finished third in the 300-meter hurdles (39.31) at the state championships in 2013 and also participated on McMinnville’s third-place 400-meter relay. He returns as a heavy favorite to defend his conference titles in the 110 and 300 hurdles and also figures to contribute in the long jump. Seniors Nathan Clevenger and Jesse Kinion have also had a good early season in the horizontal jumps.

The girls team returns all five of its state championship qualifiers from 2013. Sophomore Whitney Rich has returned from a leg injury suffered during cross country season to defend her Pacific Conference 3,000-meter title; Rich also placed third in the 1,500 as a freshman. Junior quartermiler Taylor Petersen “knows how to win races,” according to Downs, and has had a strong early practice period. Lucy Bellville, who scored McMinnville’s only points in the Class 6A girls championships in the high jump (fourth, 5-2), won the Grizzly Bear Open with a 5-0 clearance in that event.

Sophomore Montanna Gubrud will be an impact performer in the horizontal jumps, and junior Bethany Mohler presently holds the sixth-best javelin throw (123-5) in Class 6A. Mohler qualified for the state championships in the javelin but was unable to participate.

With the graduation of Pattishall and others, McMinnville has gone from having one of the most experienced groups of sprinters in the Pacific Conference to having “one of the youngest sprint crews in the league, maybe the youngest,” according to Downs. Senior Annika Nyquist and sophomore Lily Ulloa are among the crew’s top athletes. In the horizontal jumps, senior Dakota Buhler was lauded for a strong early practice period that culminated in a triple jump victory (32-5) at the Grizzly Bear Open.

Yamhill-Carlton’s girls squad also got off to a strong start at the Grizzly Bear Open in the first season for coach Donnie Kim. The Tigers were the Class 4A Cowapa League champions and scored 15 points at the OSAA Class 4A state championships in 2013 (17 points).

“Obviously our sprinters have been doing a fantastic job the last few years,” Kim said. “They just keep improving and getting looks from colleges.”

Seniors Sarah King and Susie Van De Grift each scored points at state for Y-C in 2013, King in the 200 and Van De Grift in the 400. The duo combined with Kayla Archer and Teagan Roberts to the win the 4x400-meter relay (4:17.48) at the Grizzly Bear Open. Senior Cheyenne O’Loughlin qualified for the state championships in the triple jump and is also accomplished in the shot put and the discus.

The Y-C boys finished last at the Cowapa League championships in 2013 and are firmly rebuilding, but distance runners Ben Tracy and Derric Donehoo figure to lead the pack.

“They look like they’re going to have a pretty great season,” Kim said.

In the Class 3A West Valley League, the field is chasing Westside Christian. The Lake Oswego school swept the boys’ and girls’ team titles in 2013 and finished third at the OSAA Class 3A State Championships in both team races.

The Dayton girls track and field team finished second at the WVL championships and saw graduated senior Julianne Benson (javelin) and current senior Sydney Mohler (long jump) win state championships.

Mohler, who set a personal record of 17-1.25 to win her first state title, worked with Pirates assistant coach Megan Shirley throughout the school year in anticipation of the outdoor season. (Mohler is also a returning state placer in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles.)

“The thing is, with Sydney, she’s so self-motivated you almost have to tell her to back off a little bit or she might wear herself out,” Dayton head coach Scott Spink said.

Middle-distance runner Katey Harris is off to a strong start to her senior year, having set a 13-second personal best in the 1,500 (5:12.90) at the WVL icebreaker. Junior Maddie Shirley was a state qualifier in the discus and will be an impact performer in both the discus throw and the shot put.

On the boys’ side, the Pirates have individual strength to make up in part for a lack of depth. Seniors Micah Cisneros (pole vault) and Kevin Castillo (shot put/discus) have been among Dayton’s top performers in practice, and sophomore Zach Spink won the 300 hurdles (45.00) and finished third in the 110 hurdles (18.30) at the WVL icebreaker.

Amity lost star sprinter Taylor Miles and star thrower Kyle Hayes to graduation but returns a strong boys’ sprint corps and an emerging girls squad. Juniors Riley Moore and D.J. Trunde were among the Warriors’ standouts at the WVL Icebreaker in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, with Trunde also taking third place in the long jump. The girls are led by sophomore Lindsay McShane, who finished fourth in Class 3A in the discus and the shot put in 2013. McShane won both those events and the javelin throw (106-0) at the WVL Icebreaker.

Sheridan returns all three of its Class 3A state championship scorers in distance runner Miguel Diaz De Leon, high jumper Mackenzie Hall and pole vaulter Sarah Simpson. Spartans coach Barb Justen sees opportunity for upward mobility with her 50-member squad.

“There’s room for them to build. That’s exciting,” Justen said. “I think the boys could climb out. If boys can do more than a couple events, they can move up too. I see the girls possibly being able to threaten the top two teams, maybe make them sweat it a little bit.”

Hall, hurdler Linzee Campbell, distance runner Tabitha Mueller and sprinter Shelbi Millsap – Justen calls Millsap “the fastest girl in the school” – are the cornerstones of the Spartans. On the boys’ side, junior Payton James is the returning WVL runner-up in the pole vault and may also look to score in the hurdles. Senior Dylan Griffith will be one of the top performers in the shot put and the discus.

Willamina scored nine team points in the Class 3A girls state championships in 2013, with state scorer Kasey Anderson returning in the high jump and state qualifier Leticia Cozar returning in the 400 meters. The Bulldogs are rebuilding on the boys side, with junior Riley Boardman a WVL contender in the shot put and the discus throw.

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