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Ex-baseball player spears an SOC title

Prep Notebook

One of the best things about a district track meet is that someone virtually always emerges from obscurity to leave their footprint on the proceedings.

Saturday in Roseburg, that someone was South Medford High's Glenn Pennington, who launched the javelin a lifetime best of 171 feet, 11 inches to secure a berth to the Class 4A state meet this weekend in Eugene.

Pennington had always played baseball in the spring and summer months, but after breaking three bones in his right hand during a snowboarding accident last January, that sport was off-limits this season.

And so the 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior took up the javelin, which wasn't nearly as hard on his hand as throwing a baseball.

Pennington chucked the spear just 131-5 at his first meet.

— I was a nobody, he said.

But Pennington, who is a straight-A student, learned how to throw the implement quickly. He launched two throws over 165 feet early this month, including a 166-10 effort at Eagle Point on May 4. That was his best mark prior to the Southern Oregon Conference district meet.

I finally got my speed and footwork down, said Pennington, who beat everyone except Panther teammate Alan Phillips, who won the competition with a throw of 174-8. And I was pretty relaxed. I really had nothing to lose, and that allowed me to go out there with a clear focus.

Pennington launched one throw about 175 feet Saturday, but scratched.

CRATER RUNNER Geoff Donaldson was another underdog who fooled the form charts at the SOC meet.

The junior middle-distance performer came into the meet with only the 10th-fastest time in the 800 meters at 2:03.4, but he clocked 1:58.87 Saturday to take second behind teammate Greg Dallaire (1:58.07).

Donaldson raised some eyebrows two days earlier when he ran his qualifying heat in 1:59.65, shaving nearly four seconds off his previous lifetime best.

Geoff has really been focused the last month or so, Crater distance coach Justin Loftis said. He's cranked up his work ethic, and I've been able to throw more interval work at him.

It's amazing what kids can do when they really get motivated.

Loftus knew Donaldson had a good chance of finishing among the top two and earning a trip to the state meet after watching his qualifying run.

He lost to the Roseburg kid (Gavin Weaver), but he beat a couple of other good runners, and I really liked the way he fought, Loftus said.

Along with the 800, Donaldson also qualified for state in the high jump and the 4x400 relay.

ST. MARY'S HIGH filled its football coaching vacancy this week with the hiring of Robert Metcalf.

Metcalf, 30, was a standout offensive lineman and hammer thrower at Southern Oregon University during the late 1990s and has been coaching football and track at SOU during the past school year.

He's a very enthusiastic young coach, St. Mary's athletic director James Joy said. If he could, he would start working here tomorrow.

Metcalf coached the SOU tight ends and helped with game preparation last fall. This spring he's been tutoring the Raider throwers in track.

St. Mary's has a great tradition in football and I'd like to build up the program to the level it was during its glory days, said Metcalf, who grew up in LaPine. I'm a firm believer in hard work, team chemistry and building a program that the school and parents can be proud of.

Metcalf will put St. Mary's into the SOU team camp and will conduct weight-training sessions throughout the summer.

St. Mary's posted a 4-5 record last season under Tim Pflug.

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