By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

West Valley League track championships start

It also doesn’t hurt that the Pirates have home field advantage for the meet, which will be held starting at 3 p.m. today and concluding at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dayton is a slightly different team this year then it was last year when it brought home four state championships on the boys side and one on the girls.

Impressive stars like A.J. Hedgecock, Hayden Craig and Andrew White are gone. This year, the Pirate boys have looked to seniors Luke Wildhaber and Kodee Koch to lead Dayton into the state championships.

The girls are equally strong. They are led by seniors Julianne Benson, Katrina Irvin and junior Sydney Mohler.

“Dayton is consistently a good team,” Amity track coach Joel Magill said. “The West Valley League is a good league for track on a consistent basis. We’ve all lost good athletes, but it’s about bringing in a group that is just as good, and this league does that.”

Wildhaber ranks eighth in the state in the 110-meter hurdles, seventh in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the javelin. Koch is tied for fifth in the high jump, while junior Kevin Castillo ranks fifth in the state in the shot put, and Micah Cisneros ranks third in the pole vault.

Benson ranks second in the javelin, Mohler ranks third in the 100 hurdles, seventh in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the long jump. Irvin ranks ninth in the pole vault. Sophomore Maddie Shirley ranks fifth in the discus and eighth in the shot put.

“This team is ready to go,” Dayton coach Scott Spink said. “They’re excited to be at home for districts, and it could help us get some of these kids to districts.”

After breaking the school record with a time of 51.33 seconds at the Yamhill-Carlton Invite in the 4x100-meter relay, both Dayton girls relay teams could be primed for a state berth as well. Dayton then lowered its record to 51.21 at the Regis Invite over the weekend.

“That relay was great,” Spink said. “They’ve been working hard, and to have that kind of energy with multiple meets recently is incredible.”

The Pirates biggest challenge for state spots will be the Amity Warriors.

The Miles brothers will be force on the track and will make a run for the state championships.

Taylor Miles ranks fourth in the state in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Shane Miles could be force in the 800 and 3000-meter run, though he is not in the state’s top 10.

Amity senior Kyle Hayes said he put in a lot of extra work in the offseason to improve his performance and said it’s paid off.

Hayes ranks 10th in the discus and will compete for a state spot in the javelin as well. The Warrior girls are incredibly strong in fielding events. After a personal record-setting performance at Sheridan in the shot put, Lindsay McShane ranks sixth in the state in the shot put and seventh in the discus. She also competes in the javelin.

“If she just improves her confidence, there’s no telling what she can do,” Magill said. “By her senior year she’ll have state championships in all three events.”

Senior Holly Worthington ranks eighth in the javelin.

For the Willamina Bulldogs, they will put all their chips in trying to get senior Brook Wilson to the state championships.

Wilson set a personal record at Willamina’s final league meet at Sheridan in the shot put with a throw of 37-10. Wilson ranks third in the state in the event. Wilson also ranks seventh in the state in the javelin.

“Brook is our best chance to earn a spot at state,” Willamina coach Heather Hughes said. “She has such a good focus and athletic ability.”

The Sheridan Spartans have two athletes that could represent the team at the state championships. Senior Briana Potter will compete in the discus and shot put at the district meet. Potter, who competed for the state championship in 2012 and finished seventh, has had a strong season. She currently ranks fourth in the state in the shot put and ninth in the discus.

The other athlete is sophomore Mackenzie Hall. Hall ranks sixth in the state in the high jump.

“Briana and Mackenzie are our best chance for state,” Sheridan coach Barb Justen said. “We’re a young team, and we’re just working on getting better.”

Before any of the above athletes can punch their ticket to state, they have to compete in the district meet today and Saturday. Only the top two finishers in each event will go to state, and a select few will qualify based on meeting the wildcard marks.

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