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North Boys Triumph

KLAMATH FALLS - Hardly anyone expected it, but the Southern Oregon Conference boys district track championship came down to the final event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay.

Finally, North Medford had the competition right where it wanted it.

The quartet of Dustin Brooks, Alan Borelli, Matt Schneider and Matt Parish romped home the winner in the long relay, boosting the Black Tornado to its first district title since 1993 in dramatic fashion Saturday at sun-baked Moehl Stadium.

"We'd been chasing Klamath Union all day long, and we finally caught them," North Medford coach Mark Hodges said amidst a happy bunch of Tornado runners. "Nobody picked our boys to win this thing before the meet started, but they had a great day."

Fittingly, it was Parish who put the exclamation point on North Medford's extraordinary day. The senior sprinter ran a blistering 48.8-second split to run down South Medford's Shaun Olson on the final leg, giving the Tornado the win in a school-record time of 3:23.43 and the championship.

Earlier in the day, Parish anchored North Medford's 4x100 relay to a second-place finish, won the 400 in a school-record 48.59 and the 200 in 22.38.

"He's the man you want in that situation," Hodges said of Parish. "I felt real comfortable knowing that the district title was in Matt's hands in the long relay. He's got the heart of a lion."

Parish, who could be spotted anywhere in the stadium because of his bright red hair that he dyed on prom night, said he didn't think about the pressure he was under.

"All I was thinking about was getting to the finish line in first place," he said. "And I knew I'd get there if I ran my hardest."

In one of the closest team finishes in years, North Medford totaled 126 points, Grants Pass 122.5 and Klamath Union 122. Rounding out the field were South Medford (108), Roseburg (81), Crater (47.5), Ashland (38) and Eagle Point (17).

Scott Myers got North Medford off to a good start Saturday when he won the shot put, although his winning mark of 57-93/4 was a disappointment to him.

Myers launched the iron ball a school-record and state-leading 62-11 last month and strung together five straight meets with 60-foot plus throws. Saturday marked the third straight meet in which he's been under 60.

"It's nice to win but I had some goals I didn't achieve," said Myers, who had his eyes on the district meet record of 60-6, set in 1967 by Roseburg's Steve Petrie. "I think my timing's off a little bit. Hopefully, I can iron things out before the state meet next week."

North Medford's other victory Saturday came from junior Brooks, who won the triple jump with a lifetime best of 43-101/2.

Brooks also claimed the long jump Thursday and was a member of both North Medford relay teams.

"Brooks was huge," Hodges said. "He had a great meet."

Almost lost in the excitement of the team race was the solid performance turned in by the South Medford boys.

For starters, the Panthers 4x100 relay squad of Kelly King, Andres Reed, Jonathan Klenke and Justin Baldoni tore around the track in 42.7, shattering their own school record and coming within 1/10th of a second of the district record set by Crater in 1972.

"We had so much adrenalin going, you could almost see it coming out of us," said Baldoni, who anchored the foursome to victory. "We all had great individual efforts."

South Medford didn't win another event, but Baldoni, Reed and Klenke went 2-3-4 in the 100, Reed took second in the 200 and Olson clocked a respectable time of 1:55.4 to finish second in the 800.

The Panthers' 4x400 relay team also finished second in 3:25.15, trimming four seconds off its previous best time.

Klamath Union sophomore Lauren Jespersen won the 800 in a sizzling 1:52.58 and added a victory in the 1,500, sprinting past teammate Jacob Gomez over the final 100 meters to triumph in 3:57.31.

"This meet turned into a dogfight at the end," Klamath Union coach Mike Herron said. "We had two kids missing from our long relay team because of injuries, but that's the way it goes.

"And give North Medford credit. Their kids really turned on the afterburners when it counted."

North Boys Triumph