Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
EUGENE — Phoenix's Nevina De Luca and Ashland's Kelsey McKelvey were both interested in times.
De Luca wanted to run a good one. McKelvey wanted to make one.
Both were successful.
De Luca took advantage of a fast pace by Hidden Valley's Sierra Brown to set a school record while placing third in the Class 4A 3,000 meters Friday at the track and field state championships at Hayward Field.
McKelvey, who last year as a freshman cut it very close to the time her javelin event started, was punctual enough to place fourth in the 5A event.
They were the top placers among local athletes in the big-school portion of the meet at the University of Oregon. It included mostly prelims and some finals for classes 6A, 5A and 4A. The meet for those schools concludes today.
In other events, Eagle Point's Hannah Morris was sixth in the long jump, and North Medford had several finalists make the top eight and hit the awards podium: pole vaulter L.T. Hoak, distance runner Ray Schireman and long jumper Emily Carlson.
De Luca's time of 10 minutes, 22.76 seconds broke Marci Klimek's (now Gage) record by nine seconds.
The Pirate sophomore also improved her personal best by a whopping 17 seconds. It had been 10:39.75.
"I feel really good about the race," De Luca beamed. "It's pretty exciting."
Klimek Gage still owns the school record for cross country and is the reigning three-time champion of the annual Pear Blossom Run.
She is someone De Luca looks up to. So is Brown.
The Hidden Valley senior got into a battle with Siuslaw's Katy Potter for most of the race before pulling away on the final lap. Brown won in 10:07.89 and Potter was second in 10:09.22.
"I look up to Sierra a lot," said De Luca. "She's someone who keeps pushing me forward and someone to go after. It was gonna be tough (winning); I knew it was kind of a little bit out there. I wanted third place, no less than that."
Like the girls ahead, De Luca and Cottage Grove's Breanna Wright ran together most of the way before the former put it away.
McKelvey, meanwhile, got to her event in plenty of time, even though it was one of the first to start.
"Last year was pretty stressful," said the sophomore. "We got here like three minutes before I had to throw. I didn't have much time. This year I made sure to get here and get focused. It was kind of cool being here last year. You know what's going on and have a feeling of having been here, so it's not so nerve-racking or intimidating."
That was evident as she accomplished her goal of cracking the top five with a throw of 122 feet, 8 inches. Hermiston's McKenzie Byrd won at 134-6.
As a freshman, McKelvey was 10th. She improved by nearly 30 feet this year.
"She's come a long way," said Grizzlies coach Hans Voskes. "She's so much more consistent now. She's so much more confident, and it showed. She threw well."
McKelvey had two throws farther than 119 and four farther than 109. She fouled once.
She had researched the competition and decided a top-five placing would be palatable. Now she's amended her goal for the future.
"I definitely want to win it," she said.
The Eagles' Morris, a senior, had an impressive day. Her personal best is 17-0, and her best mark before that was 16-2. On this day, five of her six jumps were over 16-0 and four exceeded 16-5.
Her sixth-place mark was 16-91/2, a foot behind winner Lauren McGowne of Marshfield.
North Medford scored points with its trio.
Hoak placed sixth with a vault of 13-0. Clackamas' Connor McLean won at 15-0.
Schireman came in seventh in the 3,000, accomplishing a personal best in 8:47.87. His previous PR was 8:53.84. The race was won by Lakeridge's Julian Heninger in 8:36.38.
Carlson nabbed seventh in the long jump at 17-3.
Crater's Gracie Tostenson was eighth in the 6A girls 3,000 (10:17.27).
It was a remarkable race. South Eugene's Erin Clark broke the Oregon record she set a week earlier in the Southwest Conference district meet, winning in 9:32.08. The record she broke last week had stood since 1982.
Clark had to fend off Grant freshman Ella Donaghu, who stayed with the senior until the final straightaway, then nearly collapsed from exhaustion with about 40 meters to go. As she struggled to keep her feet and make it to the finish line, the crowd cheered her on.
Donaghu still managed to finish in 9:37.22, which also was better the '82 record (9:39.0) of Sprague's Kim Roth.
In the 5A 3,000, Ashland's Leah Wessler was eighth in 10:45.55.
South Medford freshman Makai Manuwai was eighth in the discus at 138-11, and Crater's Derrick Turituri was ninth in the shot put at 49-23/4.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org