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...
EUGENE — Sam Jackson missed out on a trip to the track and field state championships last year.
Food poisoning did in the then-Ashland junior as he geared up for a title defense in the Class 5A 800 meters.
So it was with plenty of satisfaction Jackson returned here this week and tied up loose ends.
Jackson put on a powerful kick to overtake two frontrunners Saturday at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, earning a trip to the top of the medals podium with a time of 1:56.27, a season best.
"It was disappointing not coming my junior year," said Jackson, who got sick the night before the district meet in 2011 but still ran the next day, finishing 10th. "I PR'd by two seconds during the season and thought I'd be able to get a pretty good place at state, if not win, my junior year. That didn't end up happening obviously."
Jackson and Phoenix senior Max Hamilton were the brightest spots among tracksters expected to contend for championships.
Jackson also anchored the 4x400 relay to second place, using the same big kick he employed in the 800 to nearly bring home another title.
Hamilton, running the 800 at the 4A level, traded off the lead with Siuslaw's Hayden Schaffner before coming in second.
Hurdlers Kodie Artner of South Medford and Halley Folsom of North Medford each were ranked second in the state entering the 6A finals of their respective 300 races, but they had trouble hitting the barriers and each placed fourth, the same as Ashland's Ian Wurfl in the 5A race.
Jackson didn't appear to be fretting over the lost opportunity to win three straight state championships. He won as a sophomore with a time of 1:57.16.
"It'll be a fun story to tell the kids," he said.
Rather, he enjoyed the moment.
"It's just great to be back here at Hayward Field," said Jackson, "and getting first place is always fun."
He and his identical twin brother, Ben, ran the first 400 in the middle of the pack.
But when the leaders took off, Sam was able to keep up until finally reeling them in down the homestretch.
"I thought I probably had enough to get them," said Jackson, referring to runner-up Collin Bates of Sandy and third-place Grant McNeil of Wilsonville. "I'm a fast sprinter, I guess. Most people tell me that, anyways."
Brother Ben came in fourth in 1:58.25.
The two redheads in bright red uniforms had onlookers seeing double.
"It's fun to finally have the ginger twin firewall up here at state," Sam laughed.
In the relay, Sam Jackson's big surge at the end nearly caught Wilsonville's Ryan Walsh. Wilsonville won in 3:24.30 to the Grizzlies' 3:24.36.
Ben Jackson ran the first leg, followed by Wurfl and Brenton Wileman.
The Ashland boys placed eighth with 28 points. Summit won with 88.
Hamilton dueled with good friend Schaffner from the outset.
The Siuslaw junior took the lead to start the final lap, but Hamilton snatched it on the next-to-last turn.
"We went out pretty slow, slower than we wanted," said Hamilton, who was third a year ago. "But I was fine with that. Hayden's got a great kick, and I kick as well, so I knew it'd be a great battle to the end."
Schaffner won in 1:55.29, and Hamilton's time was 1:56.33, a personal best.
Hamilton started his kick a little sooner than normal, something he and assistant coach Tyler Davis, had worked on the previous 11/2 weeks.
"I tried it and got the lead and was just hoping to hold him off," said Hamilton. "But he's such a strong guy."
The two went down to the wire again in the 4x400 relay, Siuslaw just barely finishing ahead for third place to the Pirates' fourth.
Artner enjoyed a sensational spring right up through Friday's first day of prelims.
But he faded to seventh in the 400 finals, clocking 50.66, and hit most of the hurdles in the 300. He still managed to come off the final turn in the lead, but banging another hurdle took its toll. His time was 40.06.
Folsom, a freshman, appeared to be in good shape just trailing the leaders down the stretch, but she hit a hurdle and nearly tumbled before righting herself. Her time was 45.76.
Wurfl's fourth-place 5A time was 39.71.
Crater's Hector Villa was sixth in the 6A 110 hurdles in 15.70 seconds, and South Medford's Carmen Mejia and Phoenix's Tori Romig each grabbed eighth-place medals.
Mejia ran the 6A 400 in 58.92 seconds, and Romig went 101-9 in the 4A discus.
1, Aloha 54; 2, Oregon City 44; 3, Sunset 40; 3, Westview 40; 5, Newberg 39; 6, Jesuit 38; 7, Sheldon 32; 8, South Salem 31.5; 9, Tigard 30; 10, Lincoln 28; 11, Lakeridge 26.5; 12, McMinnville 24; 13, Grant 22; 14, Beaverton 21; 15, McNary 20; 16, South Eugene 18; 17, Lake Oswego 15; 18, Gresham 14; 19, South Medford 13; 20, Sprague 12; 20, Southridge 12; 22, Roseburg 11; 22, Forest Grove 11; 24, Central Catholic 10; 25, Canby 9; 25, Century 9; 27, West Salem 8; 27, Tualatin 8; 29, Barlow 6; 30, Thurston 4; 31, Crater 3; 31, Clackamas 3; 31, Redmond 3; 34, North Medford 1.
(Top 3 and local placers)
100 — 1. Sheldon Prince, Aloha, 10.93; 2. Reggie Coulter, Sunset, 11.15; 3. Trevon Clay, Aloha, 11.15; 4.
200 — 1. Sheldon Prince, Aloha, 21.81; 2. Xavier Coleman, Jesuit, 22.20; 3. Jeff Howard, Sprague, 22.41.
400 — 1. Nate Halverson, Grant, 49.59; 2. Kane Kennedy, McMinnville, 49.89; 3. Christian Wood, Aloha, 49.90; 7. Kodie Artner, South Medford, 50.66.
800 — 1. Alec Smith, Westview, 1:55.39; 2. Sean Clausen, Westview, 1:55.96; 3. Dylan McHugh, McNary, 1:56.39; 6. Travis Jantzer, South Medford, 1:58.96.
1,500 — 1. Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, Forest Grove, 3:53.75; 2. Jackson Darland, Sheldon, 3:56.05; 3. Nathan Normo, Lake Oswego, 3:56.82.
110 HURDLES — 1. Sean McGetrick, Tigard, 14.68; 2. Jacob Petrie, Newberg, 14.73; 3. Rory Walker, South Salem, 15.13; 6. Hector Villa, Crater, 15.70.
300 HURDLES — 1. Sean McGetrick, Tigard, 38.97; 2. Eric Zechenelly, Sunset, 39.26; 3. Ryan Cope, Jesuit, 39.34; 4. Kodie Artner, South Medford, 40.06.
4x100 RELAY — 1. Aloha (Isareal Inge, Trevon Clay, Christian Wood, Sheldon Prince), 41.96; 2. Sunset, 42.20; 3. Oregon City, 42.77.
4x400 RELAY — 1. Westview (Diego Gonzalez 12, Jordan Bacon 12, Sean Clausen 12, Alec Smith ), 3:21.02; 2. Aloha, 3:24.85; 3. Canby, 3:25.24; 6. South Medford (Jacob Lowe, Niko Tutland, Mason Pugsley, Kodie Artner 12), 3:26.96; 8. North Medford (Mario Saldana, Devyn Baldovino, Blake Spencer, Darren Cossette), 3:27.16.