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Crater boys on course for track championship

ROSEBURG ' The Crater High boys did nothing to refute their role as the favorite during opening-day action of the Southern Oregon Conference boys track and field meet Thursday at Finlay Field.

If anything, the Comets strengthened their bid to claim their first district title since 1984.

Buoyed by the 1-2 finish of Dan LeBel and Geoff Donaldson in the high jump, the Comets amassed 44 points to build a 19-point lead over Roseburg with their big performers yet to be turned loose.

So far, so good, Crater coach Hans Smith said. We got through the first day in great shape, but this thing is far from being settled. We've still got a lot of work to do Saturday.

LeBel, a senior who entered the meet with an SOC-best mark of 6-6 in the high jump, settled for 6-4 Thursday.

— My steps were perfect today, and I felt good, said LeBel, who was over the bar at 6-6 on his final attempt but knocked the bar off with his feet. It would have been nice to get a PR (personal record), but getting the win is more important.

Donaldson caught a break when Grants Pass' Wes Lathen, who entered the competition with a best of 6-4, failed to clear the opening height. Donaldson arched his back over the bar at 6 feet to take second and, like LeBel, earn a berth to next week's Class 4A state meet.

The top two finishers in each event qualify for state.

I'm really not surprised Geoff got second, Smith said. He's consistently gone 6 feet and 6-2 all year, and if you do that at this meet, you're usually in the mix.

Crater also obtained valuable points from Adam Goff, who tied for third in the pole vault; from Brandon Farey, who took third in the discus; and from sophomore Isaac Stoutenburgh, who broke a 22-year-old school record in the 3,000-meter run by clocking 8:54.16. Stoutenburgh finished third, trailing Klamath Union's Kevin Pellegrino (8:45.65) and Ashland's David Morgan (8:47.88).

Meanwhile, the Comets' two aces in the shorter races ' Jason James and Greg Dallaire ' moved through Thursday's qualifying rounds without difficulty. James posted the fastest times in the 100 (11.26) and 110 hurdles (14.96) and clocked the second-fastest time in the 300 hurdles (39.57). Dallaire recorded the second-fastest times in both 400 (50.27) and the 800 (1:59.93).

The upset of the day came in the pole vault, where Roseburg's Austin Shoptaw edged out Eagle Point's Robbie Johnston for the blue ribbon. Both vaulters negotiated 14-5, which was well under Johnson's state-leading mark of 16 feet and also under Shoptaw's best of 15-4, but Shoptaw got the win on fewer misses.

In the discus, North Medford's David Faaeteete launched an impressive throw of 173-9 for the win.

Teammate Dan O'Brien took second with a mark of 156-9, but he was breathing a sigh of relief after the competition. That's because O'Brien fell out of the ring and fouled his first two throws in the qualifying round. He barely stayed in the ring for his third and final qualifying throw that traveled 140 feet, earning him a ticket to the finals.

O'Brien launched his big throw on his next-to-last attempt.

I just told myself to stay in the ring, O'Brien said when asked what went through his head after fouling twice.

In Thursday's other boys final, South Medford's Tyler King claimed the long jump title for the second straight year with a mark of 21-6. King was seven inches off his lifetime best and walked away slightly disappointed, but South Medford jumps coach Mark Losinski noted that King had five jumps over 21 feet.

He was very consistent, Losinski said. He just never hit the big one. Hopefully, that will come next week at the state meet.

TEAM SCORES ' Crater 44, North Medford 40, Roseburg 25, South Medford 21 &

189; , Grants Pass 20 &

189; , Ashland 18 &

189; , Eagle Point 15 &

189; , Klamath Union 10.

DISCUS ' x-1, David Faaeteete, NM, 173-9; x-2, Dan O'Brien, NM, 156-9; 3, Brandon Farey, Cra, 151-4; 4, Steve Johnson, NM, 150-5; 5, Wes Lathen, GP, 146-11; 6, Jake Olson, EP, 141-0; 7, Dustin Posey, Cra, 131-3; 8, Todd Clement, SM, 127-2.

HIGH JUMP ' x-1, Dan LeBel, Cra, 6-4; x-2, Geoff Donaldson, Cra, 6-0; 3, Josh Bakke, NM, 5-10; 4, Isaiah Smith, Ros, 5-8; 5, Kyle Loomis, Ros, 5-8; 6, tie, Ryan Pittman, Ash, Jake Colley, EP, 5-8; 8, tie, Lenny Pierce, Cra, Spencer Fogelquist, GP, 5-8.

LONG JUMP ' x-1, Tyler King, SM, 21-6; x-2, Wes Lathen, GP, 21-2; 3, Josh Casebere, NM, 20-7; 4, Jesse Johnson, NM, 20-6 &

188; ; 5, Justin Weathers, Cra, 20-2 &

189; ; 6, Bret Hamilton, SM, 20-1 &

190; ; 7, Isaiah Smith, Ros, 20-1 &

190; ; 8, Tyler Brendle, SM, 19-7.

POLE VAULT ' x-1, Austin Shoptaw, Ros, 14-5; x-2, Robbie Johnston, EP, 14-5; 3, tie, Travis Ringo, South Medford, Adam Goff, Cra, 13-0; 5, Adam Brink, Ros, 12-0; 6, Kevin Hopper, GP, 11-6; 7, Tom Provost, EP, 11-0; 8, Spencer Fogelquist, GP, 11-0.

3,000 METERS

' x-1, Kevin Pellegrino, KU, 8:45.65; x-2, David Morgan, Ash, 8:47.88; 3, Isaac Stoutenburgh, Cra, 8:54.16; 4, Andy Wright, Ash, 8:56.86; 5, Trevor Hanlin, GP, 9:10.64; 6, Cameron Barleen, Ash, 9:19.98; 7, Sam Jacobson, Cra, 9:30.76; 8, Zach Harris, SM, 9:34.23.

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