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Martin eyes sprint triple at district

Janette Martin is bracing herself for track's and field's sprint triple.

The South Medford High senior will be the favorite in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes at the Southern Oregon Conference district meet Thursday and Saturday at Russ Werner Field in Grants Pass.

Martin will also anchor South Medford's 1,600-meter relay, and how she fares individually will go a long way in determining whether the Panther girls can win the district title for the third straight year.

The meet opens Thursday at 11:30 a.m. with finals scheduled in the boys and girls 3,000, boys and girls long jump, boys and girls discus, boys high jump and girls javelin. Preliminaries will be held in most of the other events Thursday.

The meet picks up Saturday at 11 a.m. with the first running event, the 400-meter relay, slated for — p.m.

Martin has been nursing a slightly pulled hamstring for the past six weeks, but logged a full slate of hard workouts this week and looks primed for the district challenge.

Today is the first day I've been able to work on my starts in a long time, said Martin, who raced against several Panther boy sprinters Tuesday. With my injury, I couldn't chance it by exploding out of the blocks, but I did it today and it felt good.

While the three sprint races and the relay make for a heavy burden, Martin said she's not feeling any undue pressure to carry her team on her shoulders.

We've got a lot of girls who are going to score points, she said. I'm just going to take it one race at a time and do my best.

This is the time of year that really makes running fun. The district and state meets are the payoff for how hard you've worked during the season and your career.

The one concern Martin has is the precious little time -- 10 minutes or so -- she'll have Saturday between the finals of the 100 and 400. The boys 100 will be the only event separating the two.

Martin took on the same events at the Crater Classic last month, but that meet had several heats in each event that allowed her more of a breather.

The 100 shouldn't take too much out of me physically, Martin said. And in a way I'll be glad to just get a race out of the way and calm my nerves.

Martin, who is headed to the University of Oregon on a track scholarship, has lifetime bests of 12.4 in the 100, 25.46 in the 200 and 56.42 in the 400, and hinted that one or more personal record could fall by the wayside Saturday.

With Martin as the catalyst, the South girls are a slight favorite over Ashland, Klamath Union and Roseburg to win a third straight district title.

Kristin Russell, the state leader in the pole vault (11-4); Kylie Healy, the district leader in the discus (126-8); and high jump specialist Stacey Lambert (5-4) should also contribute heavily to South's cause.

Those girls are all seniors who aren't going to wilt in a big meet, Rowan said. I'm very confident that our girls are going to get the job done.

Ashland's hopes hinge on the efforts of distance runner Paris Edwards, sprinter/jumper Deborah Lee and defending district champion shot putter Jackie Woods.

Edwards broke the school record in the 1,500 (4:34.5) earlier this year and should also be a threat in the 800. Lee has the SOC's top mark in the triple jump (35-5), while Woods is No. — in the shot put (41-7) and could also be a factor in the long jump and both relays.

I see South and Klamath Union as pretty strong favorites, Ashland coach Bob Julian said. But if we have a great day we could steal the title.

I always tell our kids that it all starts with the short relay. If you do well there then sometimes the momentum can build.

Grants Pass, meanwhile, looks like the team to beat in boys. The Cavemen went 7-0 in SOC dual meets and won the 13-team Yreka Invitational.

GP's top performers include junior Jake Zeliff, one of the state leaders in the discus (166-3), and sophomore sprinter Parker Lane.

Ashland could spoil the Cavemen's party but will need a big performance from hurdler/high jumper Taylor Cropper, who has been sidelined for a month with a hamstring pull.

Cropper finished second at state in the 110-meter high hurdles last year but hasn't approached his best time (14.4) this spring.

The Grizzlies' other big gun is Nick Bakke, the Class 4A state leader in the javelin (197-1). Bakke is also a threat to win the shot put, discus and triple jump.

North Medford is looking for its best finish in years and could finish among the top three if standout junior Nick Dunn and sophomore Scott Myers come through. Dunn is the top seed in the 400 and the 300 hurdles while Myers is a favorite in the shot put and discus