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North girls content with sixth-place finish

EUGENE ' North Medford High track coach Mark Hodges knew his girls team probably didn't have enough horsepower to finish among the top four and collect a trophy at the Class 4A state meet.

The Black Tornado arrived at Hayward Field with only five girls competing in six events, and none of them was projected to win.

And so when the dust settled and the Black Tornado found itself sixth in the team standings late Saturday afternoon, Hodges was a happy man.

As expected, Benson Tech ran away with the team title, amassing 100 points, followed by South Eugene with 50, Gresham with 43, Mountain View with 34&

189; , Grant with 25 and the Tornado with 23.

Sophomore Brittany Hodges, the coach's daughter, led North Medford by taking fourth in the 200, 400 and running legs on the Tornado's 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams that finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

Junior Rosana Medina added a fourth-place effort in the 300 hurdles.

You always think you can do a little better, but we competed to the best of our ability at this meet, coach Hodges said. To walk out of here in sixth place is a great accomplishment considering everything we've been through.

Hodges was referring to the preseason injury to distance standout Jenny Brown that kept her out of track the entire season; to the late-season injury to star hurdler Sarah Rountree, who would have been the favorite in the 100 hurdles Saturday; and to the series of ankle sprains and Achilles' heel woes that have plagued his daughter over the last year.

It was only a couple of years ago that Brittany Hodges was running nearly identical times to Benson's Deborah Jones and Brandi Probasco-Canda, who dominated the sprints Saturday.

The younger Hodges isn't in their league now ' Jones clocked 12.15 in the 100 and 24.88 in the 200, while Probasco-Canda blazed to a meet-record time of 54.64 in the 400 Saturday.

But Brittany Hodges' time of 25.52 in the 200 Saturday was a school record, and her 4x400 relay split of 55.7 put a big smile on her father's face.

People don't realize she's had eight ankle sprains and the Achilles' injury over the past two years, coach Hodges said. She's lost a lot of training, but she ran her guts out today.

Mark Hodges was also proud of junior Jamie Meager, who was a JV sprinter much of this season before taking over for Rountree in the opening leg of the 4x100 relay.

We've run our best times the past couple of weeks with her (Meager) on it, the elder Hodges said. She must be doing something right.

The South Medford girls, meanwhile, regrouped slightly on Saturday after a disastrous performance Friday.

Heather Frigaard finished fifth in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the 300 hurdles, freshman Kaylyn Knutson took sixth in the 200 and Teri Silva claimed eighth in the high jump and triple jump.

As a team, the Panthers finished tied for 17th with 13 points.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail