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Faaeteete finds redemption at state meet

EUGENE ' It was redemption time for North Medford High senior David Faaeteete Friday afternoon at Hayward Field.

One year after scratching on all three of his preliminary throws and bowing out of the discus competition at the Class 4A state track and field meet, Faaeteete stood on the top row of the awards podium, a state championship in hand.

This has been in the back on my mind for a long time, said Faaeteete, meaning last year's failed effort. It feels good to come back here and prove to myself and everyone else that I can win the big meet.

Faaeteete launched the platter 168 feet, 4 inches on his first attempt of the preliminary round and it held to the finish.

What made Faaeteete's victory doubly sweet for the Black Tornado was that its other entrant, senior Dan O'Brien, claimed second place with a throw of 156-3.

— The 1-2 finish by the North Medford strongmen left the Tornado leading the 4A boys meet with 18 points.

The Southern Oregon Conference crowned another champion Friday when Eagle Point senior Robbie Johnston soared over the pole vault bar at 15-9.

A nasty rain shower pounded the discus throwers during warmups, but it didn't seem to faze Faaeteete, who had three throws over 162 feet and two others beyond 156.

The rain didn't really bother me at all, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Faaeteete said. The ring here has good traction. It was just a matter of believing in myself and staying focused.

O'Brien, who also went three scratch throws and out at the state meet last year, scratched on his first attempt Friday but then nailed his big throw. He had another scratch throw that sailed past the 160-foot marker.

I think it really helped these guys to be here last year and get a taste of the competition, North Medford throws coach Mike Schaan said. They've both been throwing well the past three or four weeks.

I know they wanted PRs (personal records), but it's like I told them, you went 1-2 at the state meet and you're going home with medals you'll have for the rest of your life.

Johnston, meanwhile, also had to contend with rainy conditions in the vault. The competition was delayed twice for a total of 20 minutes but Johnston, who normally doesn't vault well in cold weather, persevered.

I put my jacket on between vaults and kept running around to stay warm, said Johnston, who missed just one jump on his way to 15-9 before failing three times to clear what would have been a lifetime best of 16-1. The conditions were bad, but I was determined to win.

I finally got out of Skipper's shadow.

Johnston was referring to Tommy Skipper, the former Sandy High and current University of Oregon standout who won three state titles and set a national high school record last year with a leap of 18-5&

189; . Johnston finished second to Skipper at the state meet last year and he was third in 2002.

Roseburg's Austin Shoptaw, who beat Johnston at last week's SOC district meet, cleared 14-3 and finished fourth.

In other 4A boys finals Friday, Barlow's Jacob Smith won the high jump (6-7), Hillsboro's Grant Dean claimed the long jump (22-5&

188; ) and Central Catholic standout Galen Rupp cruised to his second straight 3,000-meter title in 8:22.

South Medford senior Tyler King managed eighth in the long jump with a mark of 20-11&

190; .

On the track, hurdlers Jason James of Crater and Ryan Neuenschwander of South Medford each won heats in the 110 and 300 hurdles while posting the fastest times of the day. James ran 14.83 in the high hurdles and 38.95 in the intermediates, while Neuenschwander clocked 15.03 and 39.62 in less-than-ideal conditions.

James also ran a zippy leg on the 4x400 relay, helping Crater to the finals with a season's best time of 3:23.5.

In the 4A girls meet, North Medford got off to a somewhat bumpy start in its quest to take home a trophy (top four) for the second straight year.

Senior Danielle Jordan led the 3,000 for the first 2&

189; laps but fell back to fourth by the finish line. Tualatin's Meghan Armstrong used her killer kick to overtake Cleveland's Olivia Bender and South Eugene's Sarah Pearson and triumph in 9:53.21.

Jordan's time was 10:07.69. Crater junior Kendel Nelson took sixth in 10:20.43 and broke her own school record in the process.

I felt great all week in practice but I didn't have much bounce in my step today, said Jordan, who was seven seconds off her lifetime best. I went out and pushed it early but I couldn't maintain it.

North Medford's only other points Friday came from senior Stephanie Jensen, who took sixth in the javelin with a throw of 128-6. Newberg's Rachel Yurkovich won the event with a state meet record toss of 148-4.

The Tornado girls had an up-and-down day during the qualifying rounds on the track. Senior sprinter Brittany Hodges advanced to the finals of the 400, senior hurdler Jenna Siebenlist made it to the finals of the 100 hurdles and the North Medford 4x400 relay squad moved on, but freshman sprinter Justine Lawson failed to qualify in the 200 and 400 and the Tornado's 4x100 relay team failed to make the finals for the first time in five years.

The short relay was the disappointment of the day, winced North Medford coach Mark Hodges. They just didn't get it done.

The Tornado almost failed to qualify in the long relay, but Brittany Hodges ran a 57.5-second anchor split to pull the team through to today's final.

In other 4A girls finals Friday, Crescent Valley's Joan Casey won the long jump (17-10&

188; ) and Gresham's Emily Stout bagged the shot put (46-2&

190; ).

South Medford's Kaylyn Knutson wound up fifth in the long jump at 17-2&

188; .

Hidden Valley's Ryan Musselman had designs of winning the 3A boys pole vault, but landed in the box on his first attempt and never quite recovered. Musselman, who soared to a lifetime best of 15-4 at the Skyline Conference district meet, managed just 14 feet Friday and finished fourth.

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