Relay resets school record
The third-place finish was tied for the highest for the Grizzlies at the two-day meet. Kane Kennedy finished third in the boys 400-meter dash in 49.12.
Under perfect sunny conditions, senior Spencer Payne jumped out of the blocks, handing the baton to Tanner Scanlon, who in turn handed off to Taylor Vicknair. Then Kennedy took the baton home, edging Grants Pass by 0.02 seconds at the line.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Kennedy said.
The thrilling finish to the race almost didn’t happen. Payne’s handoff to Scanlon was marred by some interference from Central Catholic. A Rams runner bumped hard into Scanlon after Payne passed along the baton, and Scanlon had to put one of his hands on the track to catch himself.
“My heart skipped a beat. I just had to go,” Scanlon said. “The adrenaline kicked in.”
“He recovered great,” Payne said. “He just took off.”
Scanlon exchanged with Vicknair smoothly, and then came the final piece.
“I had a good hand off with Kane and just watched him go,” Vicknair said.
“He just yelled at me to run, and I ran,” Kennedy said. “I was just trying to catch everyone in front of me.”
Kennedy’s lean at the finish line that edged Grants Pass’ Dylan Strempel for third place was just the latest in a long line of dramatic finishes for Kennedy. He finished second at last year’s state meet in the 400 by 0.02 seconds after another dramatic lean. At this year’s Pacific Conference meet, Kennedy ran a school-record 48.67 and immediately stumbled to the track, utterly exhausted.
“He’s just gutsy,” McMinnville coach Vic Downs said. “His leadership is during competition. He sets the tone for how we are going to be.
“He really is the heart and soul of our sprint team, no doubt about it.”
Sprints coach Jenifer Gubrud said she was proud of the way the relay team finished things out.
“It’s such a great group of boys,” Gubrud said. “They really bonded well, worked well together … they really deserved it.”
To top it all off, the group lowered the school record. Again. Payne, Scanlon, Vicknair and Kennedy broke the school record last week with a mark of 42.64 at districts.
“The only thing better than breaking the school record is breaking your own school record,” Kennedy said.
McMinnville’s highest finish on the girls side of the meet was junior Lucy Bellville in the girls high jump. Bellville tied her personal best mark of 5-2 to finish fourth.
“That’s awesome,” Downs said. “Lucy had a great day.”
Junior Nic McDaniel surprised some people with his sixth-place finish in the boys 1,500. McDaniel was the second-to-last seeded runner in the field of 14 runners, but he ran an inspired race that saw him finish in 4:03.67. That was the fourth fastest time in school history and the fastest time run by a Grizzly since 1996.
“It wasn’t about time, though,” Downs said. “They went out so slow that it was totally tactical.”
McDaniel was able to hang on to the lead pack for the first three laps of the race and then hung on in a blistering bell lap, beating two runners to the finish line to leap from eighth to sixth.
“I wasn’t going to let anyone catch me,” McDaniel said.
Downs said he watched the race unfold and saw McDaniel start to quicken the pace, which forced several runners to drop back.
“He wanted the podium so bad,” Downs said. “4:03, state meet, picking up some hardware, that’s big.”
Scanlon finished seventh in the 300-meter hurdles in 39.62 to medal.
Senior Tim Tatton also medaled in the javelin, finishing in eighth place with a best throw of 174-11. It was redemption for Tatton after failing to reach the podium Thursday in the discus. He entered the competition with the top seed, but four straight scratches dropped him to ninth place.
The Grizzlies suffered a few other disappointments Thursday. Sophomore Taylor Petersen failed to advance in the girls 400, and Bethany Mohler was disqualified from the girls javelin competition after winning the Pacific Conference district meet a week before.
Mohler checked in to the javelin 20 minutes late (the competition’s first flight started at 1 p.m.), but it was still before the start of the second flight that she was. The javelin marshal told Mohler that she wouldn’t be allowed to compete and that everyone needed to check in at 1 p.m. Mohler sat stunned on a bench on the infield.
After Downs heard what happened, he sat in the stands at the discus ring with his head down, obviously distraught by the news.
“That was a mistake,” Downs said. “First year competitor to state. A kind of rookie coaching staff. Just kind of everything. Also, there was a lot going on so it was a little confusing.”
Downs said he didn’t completely agree with the DQ because she was still early for her flight.
“I agree with the idea of the rule otherwise you’d have athletes showing up at all times,” he said, “but it just hurts I guess because it’s your kid.”
Freshman Whitney Rich finished in 14th in the 3,000 Friday.
Freshman Montanna Gubrud finished in 12th place in the girls long jump.