Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
CENTRAL POINT — South Medford's Kodie Artner and North Medford's Halley Folsom each had their sights set on a big showing in the intermediate hurdles in the Southwest Conference track and field championships Saturday.
And each came through in impressive fashion, setting personal bests and meet records.
Artner not only pulled off a busy day but an extremely grueling one, winnnig the boys 300-meter intermediate hurdles as well as the 400 and handling anchor-leg duties on the Panthers' triumphant 4x400 relay. For good measure, the senior was on the third-place 4x100 relay.
His time in the hurdles was 38.62 seconds, breaking by more than a second the meet mark set two years ago by Roseburg's Korey Smith, whose record was 39.81.
Artner and Smith figured to wage an epic battle here, but the Indians' standout reinjured a troublesome hamstring in preliminaries Thursday, ending his season.
Not much had gone well for the freshman Folsom when she got into the starting blocks for the girls 300 hurdles.
That changed when she finally eclipsed the 46-second barrier and did so handily, winning in 45.21. She broke the record of 45.70 set by Thurston's Elise Nelson in the 2011 meet.
Sheldon won the boys championship with 120 points, and South Eugene claimed the girls title with 121.5.
Crater didn't have any event winners, but the host school's boys team was second with 102 points, four ahead of third-place South Medford.
Only two other local athletes earned individual titles: South Medford triple jumper Kyle Larson and North Medford high hurdler Luke Fotuallii.
The South Medford girls 4x400 team also triumphed.
The top two placers in each event advance to the state meet Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene.
Artner's two individual races were strikingly different.
In the 400, he turned his head several times down the home stretch to check on a teammate and urge him in. In the hurdles, he churned from the blocks and raced past the field with no hint of a let-up. Save for his sheer speed, it wasn't a thing of beauty.
"I think I hit every single hurdle," said Artner. "I need to stop doing that because the hurdles are a lot heavier at state. I don't think I've done that before."
Artner ranks second in the state in Class 6A, 8/100ths of a second behind Sunset's Eric Zechenelly.
"I was just trying to get a good time," said Artner. "I'm going against the No. 1 kid in the state next week."
The opposite was true in the 400, when coaxing teammate Mason Pugsley to the finish was a priority. Pugsley, who placed fourth, was in an adjacent lane.
"I didn't think I was running that fast," said Artner. "I was just cruising."
However, his time of 49.83 seconds is a personal best and is not far off the state-leading 49.39 of Aloha's Christian Wood.
Artner teamed with Pugsley, Niko Tutland and Jacob Lowe to win the long relay in 3:24.90.
He had never attempted the 300 hurdles, 400 and 4x400 in the same meet and wasn't sure how he'd hold up. But it was worth trying, he said.
"It's districts, so I'm going all out," said Artner.
Folsom was disappointed in her high jump. She was sixth at 4 feet, 10 inches, or seven inches lower than the mark she made here at the Crater Classic a month earlier. She also hoped her 4x100 team would earn a state berth, but it finished fifth.
"I was not having the best day, so I was really looking forward to this race," she said of the intermediate hurdles.
Her timing was spot on, said Folsom, and she "felt really good all the way around."
"That was amazing, oh my gosh," she said. "I really can't believe it. We've been trying all season to get into the 45s, so I was hoping I could break into it. But I didn't think I could get 45.2s."
She ranks No. 3 in Class 6A. Lakeridge's Madi Greenleaf has gone 44.52.
No doubt stoked by her hurdles race, Folsom then finished the triple jump, where she popped a leap of 34-51/4 on her remaining attempt. It got her second place by three-quarters of an inch.
The top-seeded Larson won the triple jump by nearly 2 feet. His winning mark was 43-61/2, a slight improvement over his previous best.
"I felt pumped," said Larson. "I had all the North kids and all the local kids supporting me. They always pick me up. That's one of my favorite things about track, at least the jumping part of it. Everybody supports each other and nobody is intimidated."
He scratched on his first attempt — something he's done all season and has become his "thing," he said — then unloaded the winner.
"I was a little bit behind the board but I just put everything into it," said Larson.
The junior will be making his first trip to state.
Fotuallii, also a junior, won the 110 hurdles in 15.59 seconds. He was in the mix with the league leaders most of the season and felt confident he could win.
"Yeah," he said, "you never want to doubt yourself. I knew I could push it when I came to face them."
He knew he was in good shape about the "fourth or fifth hurdle," he said. "I saw no one in my peripherals and just kept the lead."
The South Medford long relay team of Andee Ritter, Sarah Kapple, Carmen Mejia and Lauren Morgan heads to state after winning in 4:00.37.
One of the best finishes was in the boys 800, where North Medford's Blake Spencer came from off the pace and barely caught South Medford's Travis Jantzer with a last-gasp lunge to place second and earn a state trip. Sheldon's Jackson Darland won in 1:57.05, followed by Spencer (1:58.37) and Jantzer (1:58.38).
Crater boys who were runners-up and grabbed state berths were Jason Braxton in the 400, Hector Villa in the 110 hurdles and Anthony Neal in the triple jump.
TEAM SCORES — Sheldon 120, Crater 102, South Medford 98, North Medford 93, Roseburg 92, Grants Pass 66, South Eugene 49, Thurston 42.
4X100-METER RELAY — 1, Sheldon (Troy Grove, Mitch Horning, Tyus Kuykendall, Darby Wright) 43.05; 2, Grants Pass 43.27; 3, South Medford 43.31.
100 METERS — 1, Mitch Horning, She, 11.03; 2, Logan Dean, GP, 11.35; Derik Turituri, Cra, 11.37.
200 METERS — 1, Mitch Horning, She, 22.68; 2, Hayden Saparto, SM, 23.00; 3, Dan Wood, Cra, 23.06.
400 METERS — 1, Kodie Artner, SM, 49.83; 2, Jason Braxton, Cra, 50.29; 3, Brently Sturm, Cra, 50.86.
800 METERS — 1, Jackson Darland, She, 1:57.05; 2, Blake Spencer, NM, 1:58.37; 3, Travis Jantzer, SM, 1:58.38.
1,500 METERS — 1, Jackson Darland, She, 4:00.56; 2, Joe Holvey, SE, 4:01.81; 3, Brian Eimstad, SE, 4:04.29.
110-METER HURDLES — 1, Luke Fotuallii, NM, 15.59; 2, Hector Villa, Cra, 15.73; 3, Tristan Mehlhaff, She, 16.05.
300-METER HURDLES — 1, Kodie Artner, SM, 38.62; 2, Lawrence Potts, GP, 41.27; 3, Sean Bowden, Ros, 42.11.