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Phoenix fares well in Henley's shadow

ASHLAND ' The Phoenix track and field teams put forth their best effort at the Skyline Conference track and field meet, but it wasn't enough to challenge Henley.

And that's OK with Pirates coach Hans Voskes.

Our kids gave it a valiant effort, Voskes said. No one backed down at any point. Henley is so deep and has so many kids that they can keep others with fresh legs. It's just a great program.

Despite impressive days by both the Phoenix boys and girls teams, Henley won by 94 points over the Pirate boys, and by 51 over the Mazama and Phoenix girls.

One Pirate who was dominant in his own right was senior Kyle Gillette, who was untouchable in winning the 800- and 1,500-meter runs. Gillette led wire-to-wire in the 1,500, and 70 minutes later, he did the same in the 800.

— He'll go to the state meet Friday and Saturday in Eugene. The top two placers and those who met qualifying marks advance.

It felt good to get out and own the races, Gillette said. I was hoping someone would go with me and help push me along, but I just got out quick and cruised.

Gillette's dominance left the rest of the field fighting for second.

In the 1,500, Rogue River's Roman Newell and Henley's Josh Guest battled down the stretch for second, but with 10 meters to go, they bumped into each other, sending Guest falling to the ground. After two more runners finished, Guest crawled to the finish line.

The contact between Newell and Guest was ruled incidental and Newell will go on to state.

In the 800, Caleb Renno went from fourth to second in the final 20 meters to earn a state-meet bid.

Another impressive effort came from Rogue River's Shannon Jentzsch, who won the pole vault and 100 hurdles, placed second in the 300 hurdles and ran a leg on the Chieftains' 4x400 relay team.

Jentzsch broke her own district record in the pole vault with a mark of 11 feet, 9 inches, a half-foot higher than last year's winning mark.

I'm satisfied, but I'd prefer to go higher, Jentzsch said. But that's OK, I still have some time to get higher.

The Phoenix girls got a boost in the distances, where they will send three athletes in the three distance events.

The most impressive was sophomore Marci Klimek's win in the 800. Sidelined with a stress fracture in her lower left leg, Klimek stepped on a track for the first time in a month. She left it a winner in 2:26.77.

Klimek's training regimen had been confined to pool workouts at the Ashland YMCA.

Amanda Phillips won the 1,500 in 5:00.21 and will join her sister, Arika, who won the 3,000 on Friday, at the state meet.

Marci is so competitive and dedicated and strong-willed, Voskes said. That's just an amazing accomplishment to win that 800.

A less-than spectacular effort didn't bother North Valley's Jeremiah Lewman, who won the 300 hurdles in 39.87 and ran second in the 110 hurdles in 15.65.

I wasn't trying to set any records today or anything, said Lewman, the state-meet record holder in the 300 hurdles in 38.30. I just wanted to finish, get to state and not get hurt. I always run faster at state anyway.

Lewman and his teammates perked up when they learned their 4x100 relay team was heading to state despite finishing third.

Henley passed up Illinois Valley on the final leg, but because all three teams surpassed the automatic qualifying mark of 43.90, they all advance.

North Valley benefited from qualifying marks in the triple jump, where the top five finishers, including two Knights, will go to state.

Henley's Joel Matchett (44-7&

189; ) and Mark Warnick (43-11&

189; ) went 1-2, but NV's Steve Gaskin placed third at 43-8&

190; and teammate and long jump champion Mark Hiler leapt 43-0&

188; for fifth place.

In other races, Illinois Valley's Jesse Lorentz won the 100 in 11.21, a hundredth of a second ahead of Rogue River's Nick Waroff, who also ran second in the 200 (22.97). Jon Riley won the javelin for the Cougars in 174-9.

After leading the first day of competition, the Hidden Valley boys faded to fourth place, still a major improvement over last season's seventh-place mark. The Mustang girls went from last in 2003 to fifth.