By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Yamhill-Carlton track poised for a big district meet

The 4A Cowapa League started its district meet Thursday and will finish today in Seaside. Only the top two athletes in each event can go to state. A third or fourth place finish could qualify for state but that tends to be rare.

Last year, the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers qualified 10 girls, five boys and both girls relay teams to the state championships. This year’s Yamhill-Carlton team is slightly younger, having graduated top senior performers like Robby Sullivan.

“We’re a little bit younger,” Tigers coach Adam Howard said. “But we a have lot of good things going for us. Competitively, I feel like our girls have a great opportunity to win a district tack meet. We know we’re good enough to win it.”

The Tiger girls finished second at last season’s district meet, which set up top athletes like Kaylie Boschma, Suzanne Van De Grift, Lexi Webb and Sarah King to all have impressive performances at the state championships.

Howard said things have been improving at a fast rate for the Yamhill-Carlton boys too.

“One thing we know and always remember is that every point matters,” Howard said. “Every place we can get (at districts) we are striving for.”

That group of Boschma, Van De Grift, Webb and King look to make their return to the state championships in 2013. King is ranked fifth in the state in the 100 meters, Van De Grift is 10th in the 400, Boschma is ninth in the 100-meter hurdles, while the Yamhill-Carlton girls 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams come in ninth and eighth respectiviely.

The Tiger girls have strong representation in the field events as well. Cheyenne O’Loughlin ranks fifth in the state in the high jump.

Howard said he is intrigued to see how Boschma will respond in the 300 hurdles because the event at districts gets stacked with tough competition, making it difficult for a state championship bid. Boschma is not in the state’s top 10 in the event, but Howard said this event is where a standard could help Boschma and the Tigers qualify for state in the event.

“We’ve looked it over and really think there’s a chance,” Howard said. “With those girls, we could possibly run a fast enough time to get in (to third place for state).

“It’s an event she has a lot of confidence in,” he said. “She ran it in the finals of the state meet last year. She knows what to expect over the next couple days.”

On the boys side, it’s Yamhill-Carlton senior, Ryan Braden, who will aim to have the mark of his life in the high jump in order to get to the state championships. Braden worked with and learned from Sullivan, who took second in the high jump at state last year. Braden currently ranks third in the state in the event with his highest mark of 6-4 ¼.

Howard said the one thing he wanted to see from the Tigers at districts that could help improve their chances at getting athletes to the state championships was a competitive drive.

“The biggest thing I want to see is them come and compete,” Howard said. “I think our group has done a good job of that all season. We can control only the things we can control, and just make that effort to be focused and be ready.”

The final day of the Cowapa League district meet is this afternoon. The 4A state track meet starts May 24 at Hayward Field in Eugene and conclude May 25.

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