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 — Few details were left unattended as Halley Folsom prepared for the track and field state championships.
The North Medford sophomore simulated her meet schedule in practice for three weeks to get used to bouncing back-and-forth between her hurdles race and the high jump.
In the past week, when she hit a hurdle in practice, she had to do push-ups.
So it's little wonder that when it came time for her 300-meter hurdle finals Saturday at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field, she was ready.
Folsom became the first girl in North Medford history to capture a state title, winning in a school-record time of 44.24 seconds. She broke the 20-year-old mark of 44.90, set by Alison Gerhard.
Medford split into two high schools in 1986.
"I think I knew I had it in me to run fast enough," said Folsom, who held the shell casing from the starter's pistol, something each track winner gets.
She was in Lane 5, next to Jesuit's Abby Wachter. They shared the same leading time of 45.14 in Friday's preliminary race.
"I was nervous," Folsom said of the start, "especially since I was in Lane 5 and couldn't see her (because of the staggered start), but it turned out good."
Folsom's performance highlighted the final day of the meet for local 6A athletes, but there were other outstanding performances.
South Medford triple-jumper Kyle Larson placed second with a school-record leap of 46 feet, 7 inches.
The Panthers' Carmen Mejia was third in the girls 800, an event she competed in for the first time one month earlier.
And North Medford's Blake Spencer and Devyn Baldovino came in fourth and fifth in the boys 800.
In the 4A ranks, Phoenix's Nevina De Luca was sixth in the 1,500, and Venessa D'Arpino of North Valley and Sierra Brown of Hidden Valley showed their dominance.
D'Arpino set 4A meet records in three sprints, and Brown added the 1,500 crown to the gold she won in the 3,000 on Friday.
Folsom was a contender for a state crown last year. Her previous personal best of 44.93 came in the state prelims. But in the finals, she hit the next-to-last hurdle and nearly fell, winding up fourth.
To try to alleviate that as an issue, head coach Piet Voskes punished her with push-ups in practice.
"And I hit the same one again this time," said Folsom. "So that was scary. Right after I hit it, I said, I can give up or I can go just as fast as I possibly can. I went as fast as I could."
Folsom had enough burst to nip Lakeridge senior Madi Greenleaf at the finish. Greenleaf's time was 44.46.
"She (Folsom) cleaned up some things upper body-wise," said Voskes. "She had kind of been reaching the last couple weeks, and she got back to being an athlete and running strong rather than reacting to the race."
Folsom was the top seed in the high jump, based on the 5-foot-3 height she cleared at the Southwest Conference district meet. But she finished only 10th, unable to get past 5-0.
That gave her time to warm up for and focus on the hurdles, which followed shortly after.
Winning state had been a dream of hers "since I knew there was one, I guess," she said. "I'm just glad that I won and I get to be on that stand and everything."
Larson was thrilled with his day, too. His goal throughout his prep career was to break the school record of Josh Milhollin, who had gone 45-1. Milhollin mentored Larson when the latter was a freshman.
Until Saturday, Larson's best was 44-11/2.
The big jump came on his second attempt in prelims. He had four ensuing jumps, counting the finals.
"I wasn't expecting to get that," said the senior. "It felt like it was 44 (feet), then I turned around and looked back and I was just deep in the pit and I knew it."
West Salem's Tristan James won at 46-10¾, a mark he hit on his first attempt.
Coming up with another 46-footer proved difficult for Larson.
"My next jump felt good," he said. "Then after sitting for a while before finals, I just didn't feel as fast. My legs cooled down a lot. I was trying to do some run throughs to get warmed back up, but it just wasn't the same."
Mejia, whose first 800 was in a dual meet in April, got boxed in during the race. A former sprinter, she said, "I had a moment of, 'This is stupid.'"
But she bounced to the outside in the final 200 and started picking off runners. She got into second place before settling for third at the last moment.
Her time of 2:14.61 was one/one-hundreth of a second behind runner-up Tess Michaelson of Lincoln. Grant's Piper Donaghu won in 2:13.86.
Spencer worked from the middle of the pack most of the race. Eventual winner Alec Smith of Westview (1:53.20) and runner-up Joshua Kellebrew of David Douglas (1:54.75) set the pace.
"It was a good pace," said Spencer, a senior, "and led us all to pretty dang successful times. ... It really started to pick up about 250 out. I kicked and had quite the duel with a Sam Barlow kid. He got the better of me by about a hundredth, but it was fun."
Spencer's time was 1:55.82, and the senior Baldovino clocked 1:56.12.
De Luca, who was third in the 3,000 on Friday, had a time of 4:57.16 in the 1,500. It was won by Brown for the second straight year in 4:42.45.
D'Arpino set records in the 100 (12.04), the 200 (24.11) and the 400 (54.68). Her twin sister, Kerissa, ran second in the 200 and 400 and third in the 100.
A botched handoff during the 4x400 relay prevented an even better performance.
The North Valley boys, getting a win from Austin Neill in the 100 (11.19) and a strong anchor leg from him on the winning 4x100 relay, placed second by four points to Siuslaw, 60 to 56.
TEAM SCORES — 1, Jesuit, 72; 2, Sheldon, 54; 3, David Douglas, 52; 4, Oregon City, 46.50; 5, Central Catholic, 34; 6, Grants Pass, 29; 7, South Salem, 25.50; 8, Canby, 24; 9, Clackamas, 23.50; 10, Lakeridge, 23; 11, Beaverton, 22; 12, Southridge, 19; 13, McMinnville, 18; 14, West Salem, 17; 14, Sunset, 17; 16, North Medford, 15; 16, Tigard, 15; 18, Lake Oswego, 14; 19, Gresham, 13; 19, McNary, 13; 19, Newberg, 13; 19, Barlow, 13; 23, Grant, 12; 23, Westview, 12; 25, South Medford, 9; 25, Roseburg, 9; 25, Lincoln, 9; 28, North Salem, 8; 29, South Eugene, 7; 30, Aloha, 6; 30, Centennial, 6; 32, Reynolds, 5.50; 33, Tualatin, 5; 34, Thurston, 2.
4X100-METER RELAY — 1, Sheldon (Adam Starnes, Nathan Starnes, Tyus Kuykendall, Mitch Horning), 41.58; 2, Canby, 42.19; 3, McMinnville, 42.37; 4, Grants Pass, 42.39.
100 METERS — 1, Mitch Horning, Sheldon, 10.80; 2, Carlos Ortiz, North Salem, 10.82; 3, Devon Fortier, Canby, 10.92.