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 — Not even a nasty burst of rain could put a damper on Seth Gretz's sunny disposition at the Class 3A state track and field championships Thursday.
Nor could it douse Cascade Christian's boys hopes of winning the school's first state title.
Gretz, the lone Rogue River competitor at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, placed second in the pole vault after he tried to hold up during a jump-off, only to have it ruled a valid attempt.
Santiam Christian's Joseph Pelly then cleared the bar at 13-6 to claim his second straight gold medal in the event.
Meanwhile, Cascade Christian seniors Levi Girardot and Aric Alcantara finished second and third in the long jump, respectively, to account for 14 of the Challengers' 21 first-day points. After four finals, they lead Santiam Christian (14), Catlin Gabel (12) and Coquille (11).
In the girls meet, Cascade Christian's Stephanie Croy and Michelle Kinney each nabbed second place, helping the Challengers to 18 points and a third-place tie with Vale. Blanchet Catholic leads with 22 points.
Most of the finals in the 3A, 2A and 1A meets will be held today. Meanwhile, the first day of action for the 6A, 5A and 4A meets commences.
Gretz, a senior who placed fourth here a year ago, and Pelley each cleared 13-3 to remain the lone competitors, and they had the same number of misses. At 13-6, they both missed three times.
A fourth vault was tried at that height and both missed.
The bar was lowered to 13-3, and both made it.
Then came Gretz's failed bid.
As he barreled down the runway, his steps were off. Gretz slowed down and tried to stop, but his pole bounced out of the box and hit the pit cushion. That made it a legal attempt.
Pelley then cleared the height.
"You know what," said Gretz, "we had both jumped really well, and he's a really, really good jumper. More power to him. Stuff happens. I mean, second, I'm not going to be upset with a silver (medal), especially not at state, at Hayward Field. It was awesome, especially with the great competition. It almost scared you. We had higher PRs and everyone started going up and up and up. You kind of started to shake."
Gretz had gone 13-6 this season and was hoping to hit 14-0. Vaulting conditions were good for his event, but the meet was later drenched.
"I didn't even reach my PR, which is kind of disappointing," he said. "But three inches isn't much. I'll take it."
Gretz also won both hurdle preliminaries, taking the 110-meter highs in 15.65 seconds and the 300 intermediates in 42.13.
He'll compete in the high jump finals as well today.
Gretz is talking to several small colleges about competing in track. He plans to eventually transfer to the Air Force Academy for academic reasons.
Girardot managed to avoid the harshest rain, but Alcantara didn't. The long jump went straight on through the downpour.
"He had to jump in the rain," said Girardot, nodding to his teammate. "It was pretty crazy."
But both seniors persevered.
Girardot was ranked fifth in the state entering the competition and Alcantara second. The leader, Calvin Anderson of Horizon Christian, held to form and won with a leap of 21-11/4.
Girardot got off a jump of 20-91/4, and Alcantara's best was 20-71/2.
"I feel pretty good," said Girardot. "I jumped the best that I could and did the best that I could, so I'm pretty happy with my marks."
They and their teammates are aware the Challengers have a target on their backs.
"Going in with our score from district (197 points), I'm pretty sure we were seeded first," said Alcantara. "For our team, getting second and third in the state in the long jump is not exactly what we would have hoped, but it's still really good."
Junior Aaron Cesaro added to the point total by placing fifth in the shot put. He fouled on three of his six attempts but still managed a best of 46-53/4. It's nearly 21/2 feet off his PR.
Sophomore Tim McPherson was sixth in the 3,000. His time of 9:33.56 is second in Challengers school history.
Cascade Christian is expected to finish strong today.
Brandon Williams advanced through in the 100 and 200 sprints, and he'll be on both relays.
Alcantara and Girardot are 1-2 in the state in the triple jump, and the latter is also No. 2 in the javelin.
Cesaro comes back today in the discus, in which he has the state's top mark.
"It's always hard to be in first place and try to keep that and live up to your name," said Alcantara.
Croy's position was an all-too familiar one: second to Creswell's Olivia Powell. The two were 1-2 last year as well.
"I thought it was pretty good," said Croy. "We started out a little slow, but besides that, I was pretty happy with it."
The two ran head to head for most of the first five laps before Powell took over and gradually increased the lead.
With a lap to go and trailing by 10 meters, Croy, a junior, knew her chances to catch the sophomore were slim.
"Not too much at that point," said Croy. "She has a strong kick."
Kinney, a senior, got off her best throw on her fourth attempt. The mark of 120-7 improved her personal record by one inch.
Melissa Ausman of Nyssa won the event 149-6.
Cascade Christian 21, Santiam Christian 14, Catlin Gabel 12, Coquille, 11, Blanchet Catholic 10, Horizon Christian-Tualati 10, Oregon Episcopal 10, Creswell 8, Nyssa 8, Rogue River 8, Warrenton 8, Dayton 7, Westside Christian 6, Valley Catholic 5, Colton 5, Burns 5, Jefferson 2, Vale 2, Sheridan 2, Salem Academy 1, Pleasant Hill 1.
3,000 — 1. Nick Obletz, Oregon Episcopal, 8:59.85; 2. Zach Bellew, Creswell, 9:07.04; 3. Rich Fettig, Westside Christian, 9:17.34; 6. Tim McPherson, Cascade Christian, 9:33.56; 9. Chris Martin, St. Mary's, 10:22.3.
POLE VAULT — 1. Joseph Pelley, Santiam Christian, 13-03; 2. Seth Gretz, Rogue River, 13-03; 3. Zach Greenleaf, Catlin Gabel, 12-09.
LONG JUMP — 1. Calvin Anderson, Horizon Christian-Tualatin, 21-01.25; 2. Levi Girardot, Cascade Christian, 20-09.25 3. Aric Alcantara, Cascade Christian, 20-07.5.
SHOT PUT — 1. Wilson Hodge, Coquille, 49-04.25; 2. Jordan Hollaway, Warrenton, 48-04; 3. Jeff Lieder, Blanchet Catholic, 47-11.5; 5. Aaron Cesaro, Cascade Christian, 46-05.75.
Wheelchair (Mixed Class)