EUGENE — Cascade Christian’s Emily Stephens was catching her breath in the competitors’ tent after running the 400-meter preliminaries at the Class 3A track and field state championships Thursday at Hayward Field.

A PA announcement prompted her to turn to the medals podium. Two teammates had placed in the discus, adding to the Challengers’ team score.

Later, upon gathering her things, Stephens nodded approval at the efforts of throwers Abbey Alexander and Sarah Johnston.

“We have the athletes to hopefully take the state title,” said the sophomore, who earlier in the day accounted for the best local finish when she placed second in the high jump. “I think we can if people perform like they have been in practices and throughout the season.”

After the first day of the 3A/2A/1A portion of the meet, the Challengers were in third place in 3A with 20 points, trailing Coquille (31) and Blanchet Catholic (22). St. Mary’s was in seventh place with 10 points.

Butte Falls’ girls scored four points in the 1A meet.

In the 3A boys meet, St. Mary’s senior Thomas Cox and Cascade Christian junior Zach Booker each placed third, Cox in the shot put and Booker in the long jump.

In the team standings, Cascade Christian is in a six-way tie for fourth place with 10 points. St. Mary’s is tied for 10th with six points.

The small-school meets conclude Friday, while the 6A/5A/4A action gets underway before wrapping up on Saturday.

Stephens barely missed out in the high jump, coming in behind Burns senior Catherine Clemens.

Both cleared 5 feet, 4 inches, Clemens won the tiebreaker because she didn’t have a miss at 5-4 and it took Stephens two tries at that height.

Stephens was pleased with her showing, even though the gold went to Clemens.

“She deserved it,” said Stephens. “She had an injury and was out two years, so it was cool to see her come back.”

The two spoke briefly, and Stephens learned Clemens had had knee surgery.

Stephens’ successful height was only an inch off her personal best.

“I felt really good, jumping-wise,” she said. “I only had a few mental mistakes, and they were small enough I could correct them. I just wasn’t able to in my attempts.”

At 5-4 and 5-5, she said, she leaned too early while going into her arch and clipped the bar.

“I was just rushing it a little too much,” she said.

She had to rush in her 400 prelim, too, coming on strong in the final 200 to get second in her heat in 1 minute, 1.15 seconds. It’s less than a second off her best.

She was hoping to conserve energy but didn’t have that luxury, having to place in the top three to ensure advancement to the finals.

“Once I saw I was catching those girls, and they were dying, I knew I just had to go,” she said.

Stephens is gunning to break the 1-minute barrier for the first time in the finals. She also will run on both Challenger relays on Day 2.

In another girls final, St. Mary’s sophomore Emma Bennion was fourth in the 3,000 with a personal-best time of 10:46.92. It was the first time she cracked 11 minutes. Catlin Gabel’s Maya Rayle won in 10:14.61.

In the discus, the sophomore Alexander used her final throw to increase her PR by 2 inches and overtake the junior Johnston.

Alexander’s best mark of six throws was 114-5. Johnston uncorked her top throw of 110-8 on her penultimate try. They scored nine team points between them.

Blanchet Catholic’s Leilani Salang captured the discus at 129-4.

In the long jump, St. Mary’s sophomore Sophia Pastrano placed fourth at 16-1¾ — a PR by nearly a foot — while Cascade Christian junior Kara Ash added to the Challengers’ team total by placing sixth at 15-8¾. Coquille’s Darian Wilson triumphed at 17-7.

Butte Falls’ points came from sophomore Mycala Patereau, who placed fifth in the discus at 92-9. Cove’s Maggie Ledbetter won at 110-1.

In boys action, Cox had four heaves in the shot put under 45 feet before he got his big one of 47-9¾, more than a foot farther than his previous best. Cascade Christian senior Carson Cochran was fifth at 46-8, a PR, while Glide’s Dillon Towne took the gold at 49-3½.

Booker had three jumps of more than 20 feet, settling on a best of 20-10, a season’s best. Scott Labhart, of La Pine, leaped 22-7¼ to win.

Class 3A State Championships

BOYS

TEAM SCORES: Harrisburg 19, Burns 17, La Pine 13.5, Glide 10, Westside Christian 10, Oregon Episcopal 10, Pleasant Hill 10, Salem Academy 10, Cascade Christian 10, Jefferson 6, St. Mary’s 6, Nyssa 6, Blanchet Catholic 5.5.

200 — 1, Gabe Arce-Torres, Taft, 22.68; 10, Levi Ellerbeck, Cascade Christian, 23.79; 11, Justin Silsbee, St. Mary's, 24.02.

400 — 1, Juma Sei, Catlin Gabel, 50.48; 10, Caleb Jordan, Cascade Christian, 54.51.

3,000 — 1, Hunter Murphy, Pleasant Hill, 9:06.19.

300 HURDLES — 1, Wilson McLean, Salem Academy, 40.88.

SHOT PUT — 1. Dillon Towne, Glide, 49-3.5; 5, Carson Cochran, Cascade Christian, 46-8.

POLE VAULT — 1, Spencer Hopkins, Westside Christian, 14-3.25.

LONG JUMP — 1, Scout Labhart, La Pine, 22-7.25; 3, Zach Booker, Cascade Christian, 20-10; 10, Michael Quintero, Cascade Christian, 19-4.25.

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES: Coquille 31, Blanchet Catholic 22, Cascade Christian 20, La Pine 18, Catlin Gabel 16, Burns 14, St. Mary’s 10, Vale 8, Oregon Episcopal 8, Lakeview 6, Jefferson 6, Glide 6, Taft 6.

200 — 1, Ronni VanZant, Sheridan, 25.7; 3. Amber Cave, Cascade Christian, 25.86.

400 — 1, Ronni VanZant, Sheridan, 1:00.89; 3, Emily Stephens, Cascade Christian, 1:01.15.

3,000 — 1, Maya Rayle, Catlin Gabel, 10:14.61; 4, Emma Bennion, St. Mary's, 10:46.92; 9, Lindsey Gurr, St. Mary's, 11:53.85.

300 HURDLES — 1, Brette Graham, Lakeview, 48.04; 2. Emma Bennion, St. Mary's, 48.82.

DISCUS — 1, Leilani Salang, Blanchet Catholic, 139-0; 4. Abbey Alexander, Cascade Christian, 114-5; 5, Sarah Johnston, Cascade Christian, 110-8.

JAVELIN — 1, Jordynn Slater, La Pine, 141-11.

HIGH JUMP — 1, Catherine Clemens, Burns, 5-4; 2. Emily Stephens, Cascade Christian, 5-4.

LONG JUMP — 1, Darian Wilson, Coquille, 17-7; 4, Sophia Pastrano, St. Mary's, 16-1.75; 6, Kara Ash, Cascade Christian, 15-8.75.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com