When you’re on a winning team, it’s easy to maintain your competitive spirit.
Practices become more tolerable, gearing up for...
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Forget for a moment that there is strength in numbers.
North Medford's girls track and field team is counting on a very small contingent to produce Herculean results at the Class 6A state championships Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene.
"It's interesting," said Black Tornado coach Piet Voskes. "I think the girls really have a shot at trophying, to be quite honest. I'm not sure that 35 or 40 points is not going to trophy."
Which might seem odd, considering North Medford placed only fourth in the Southwest Conference district meet Saturday.
But the state meet is a different race and requires a different kind of stable. You need athletes who can first get into the finals, then finish near the top.
"You've got to have some thoroughbreds to do it at state," said Voskes.
State meets for all levels are this week at Hayward. The 3A, 2A and 1A portions begin today and end Friday. The 6A, 5A and 4A are Friday and Saturday.
The Black Tornado will lean heavily on junior Halley Folsom and sophomore Savannah Greenwade. As two of the state's best in their specialties, the versatile Folsom and Greenwade, a sprinter, will be responsible for most of the points, with discus thrower Kendell Erb and relay teammates serving in complementary roles.
Voskes likens the group to the South Medford teams of the late 1990s that featured sprinters Amois Gonzalez and Janette Martin. The Panthers won the title in '98, a year after tying for second place.
"In a way, we're replicating that team," said Voskes. "We have a shot at three or four pretty high point-scorers."
"But," he cautioned, "we also might be a year away."
The top four teams earn trophies, and the only time North Medford's girls earned one was in 2003, when they were third.
So how many points will it take to claim hardware?
In the six years of the 6A classification, the average point total for fourth place is 40.
Grant, led by distance aces Ella and Piper Donaghu, is the favorite to win, then it's "pretty wide open" after that, said Voskes.
"I think we have a shot at this point," he said of earning a trophy. "I like our odds. Let's go in and battle and let the dust settle. When the mile relay comes up, we want to be in a position where our individuals have done what they can and it comes down to the relay."
The long relay is the final event and could determine North Medford's fate.
Ten points are awarded for first place, eight for second.
Folsom shares the state lead in the high jump after going 5 feet, 6 inches at district to tie the school record. She is No. 2 in the 6A ranks in the 300-meter hurdles (44.44 seconds), but is the defending state champion and is regarded as one who rises to the occasion in big meets.
Greenwade has the state's top time in the 400 (56.80) and is just outside the top 10 in the 200 (25.77).
Folsom and Greenwade ran the third and fourth legs, respectively, on the 4x400 relay that broke the school record with a time of 3:59.18 at district. With Jaci Brumble and Hannah Anderson on the first two legs, the team moved into the No. 3 spot in the state.
Erb has the state's sixth-best discus throw, but she's only a little more than a foot from being No. 4.
"There's some potential in the points," said Voskes, "but there's also a small margin for error."
Greenwade's emergence is one reason for the optimism. She has run the 400 eight times this season, and in each instance has lowered her time.
"She's a supremely confident young lady right now," said Voskes. "She carries herself with confidence. She's a leader in everything we do. Every drill, she's at the front of the line; every rep we do, she wants to win. Even Halley commented on how impressed she is with how Savannah has carried herself the past three weeks."
He considers it a bonus that Greenwade competed in the Oregon Relays at Hayward Field four weeks ago and responded well.
"It gave her at least a sense of what that environment is like," said Voskes, "so she's not as much of a novice as she would appear being a first-time state qualifier."
Among other local girl competitors, Crater's Gracie Tostenson will aim for a high finish in the 3,000. She placed eighth last year and this season has the state's No. 2 time (10:11.90) behind Grant's Ella Donaghu (9:24.86).
In 4A, Phoenix's Tori Romig is second in the discus at 126-9, just 2 feet behind leader Olivia Gulliford of Sutherlin. The Pirates' Nevina De Luca has the fourth-best 3,000 time (10:41.0).
In 3A, Cascade Christian's Stephanie Croy is top-five in two events, the 3,000 (third, 10:56.0) and the 1,500 (fourth, 5:04.78). St. Mary's Lily Harrie is fourth in the pole vault (9-0).
In 1A, Prospect's Kaylee Biando ranks No. 1 in the shot put by more than 2 feet with a best of 39-41/2 .
In boys meets, several locals have top-five marks.
In 6A, North Medford's Mario Filippi is second in the pole vault (14-1) and fifth, with South Medford's Kaizer Gillispie, in the high jump at 6-4. The Black Tornado's Aaron Browne-Moore is fourth in the triple jump (44-9).
In 5A, Ashland has two top-fivers, and both are in the discus. Wyatt Thompson-Siporen is second at 154-8 and Dominic Meads fifth at 150-5.
In 3A boys, St. Mary's Tracy Salgado is fourth in both the 400 (51.52) and the 800 (2:00.99) and is on the No. 5 4x400 relay (3:37.38). Teammate Hunter Rothfus is fourth in the high jump at 6-2.
Cascade Christian's Aaron Cesaro is No. 2 in both the shot put (51-21/4) and the discus (156-3).
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com