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Woods hits mark in district meet

GRANTS PASS -- Jackie Woods didn't seem like much of a threat to win the long jump Thursday at the Southern Oregon Conference district meet.

Woods came in with only the fifth-best jump and her emphasis all season has been on the shot put and relays.

But great athletes have a knack for coming through in the clutch and Woods did just that Thursday, sailing to a season's best of 15-11 to win the long jump.

In other girls finals Thursday, South Medford's Kylie Healy won the discus (122-3), Roseburg's Stephanie Nicklason claimed the javelin (127-7) and Klamath Union's Liz Lindgren captured the 3,000-meter run (10:28.59).

Woods, a standout basketball player and the defending district champion in the shot put, leaped 16-2 to take second in the long jump last year but hadn't approached that distance again until Thursday.

The long jump hasn't been a priority for Jackie but we worked with her in practice this week and she went over 16 feet, Ashland assistant coach Jim Hagemann said. If she took the long jump as serious as she does the shot put then she'd be way out there.

She hasn't even scratched the surface of what she can do.

With no qualifying heats in the relays and with the shot put not being held until Saturday, Woods only had to worry about the long jump Thursday.

It felt good not having to rush around from one event to the other, she said. I was able to put all my energy into the long jump.

I was hoping for a PR but getting the win was more important.

Likewise for Healy, who failed to match her PR of 126-7 in the discus but triumphed nonetheless.

I've got a lot bigger throw in me than what I showed today, Healy said. I didn't get up on my toes like I should have.

Now it's back to the practice ring and get ready for state.

Healy's blue-ribbon performance helped get South Medford off to a good start. Roseburg rode the 1-2 finish from Nicklason and Jordan Crossfield in the javelin to take the first-day lead with 42 points, but the two-time defending district champion Panthers remain the team to beat Saturday.

South Medford is in second with 27 points, with Ashland (24) and Klamath Union (21) close behind.

Along with Healy, the Panthers got a strong effort Thursday from distance runners Sarah Eyman and Tonya Anders, who finished third and sixth, respectively.

Eyman ran a season's best of 10:55 while Anders clocked 11:21.66, a lifetime best by some 37 seconds.

That was a great way to finish the day, Rowan said. Both of those girls ran smart races and they ran with a lot of heart.

Eyman was second with a lap to go and headed for a possible state berth, but Roseburg's Jessie Newton passed her up.

It was a bitter-sweet race for Sarah, Rowan said. She did great to finish where she did but it's frustrating to be that close to state and lose it on the last lap. But she's got the 1,500 coming up Saturday, and the way she ran today, who knows?

South Medford sprinter Janette Martin, meanwhile, waltzed through Thursday's preliminaries and set the tone for what could be a record-setting Saturday. The senior sensation clocked 12.35 in the 100, 25.94 in the 200 and 59.39 in the 400 with minimal effort.

She eased up well before the finish line in the latter two races.

I think people are going to see something very special from Janette Martin on Saturday, Rowan said. When you can jog across the finish line and still run the times she did today, you know there's something special coming up.