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Jaxon gets in on action, wins discus title

EUGENE ' Less than two weeks ago, Jaxon Williams harbored doubts that he would qualify for the Class 4A State Track and Field Championships.

Friday at Hayward Field, the Ashland High senior stood on the top rung of the awards platform, celebrating a state discus title.

Such is the beauty and the unpredictability of high school sports.

Williams launched the discus 166 feet on his first throw of the preliminary round, and it stood up for the win.

Two days before district, I couldn't even break 145 feet, Williams said. My confidence was low. It felt like I was getting worse instead of better.

— I knew I was going to have to step it up just to make it to the state meet.

He did, hitting a 10-foot personal record of 156-11 at district. Williams extended his lifetime best by another 9 feet, — inch Friday.

That's 19 feet of improvement in back-to-back meets.

It's kind of hard to believe, isn't it? a grinning Williams said.

Williams credited his late-season improvement to two changes in his technique. Prior to the district meet, he began holding the discus higher and away from his body during his windup, which allowed him to create more power during his throws.

Friday, he generated even more energy by keeping his drive leg on the surface of the ring longer.

I had a really good week of practice, said Williams, who at 6 feet and 175 pounds is smallish for a discus thrower. I just kept getting better and better. Getting my plant foot down early was a big key today. I think that's what added the extra 9 or 10 feet.

Mother Nature was also on Williams' side. He launched his big throw on his first attempt. the time the preliminary round ended and the final round began, a huge downpour flooded the ring and made it difficult for anyone to improve their throws.

I didn't mind seeing the rain, Williams said.

The state title was the second in a month for Williams. On April 30, he won a classical guitar state championship for the second straight year.

This one was tougher to win, said Williams, meaning the discus. I've been playing the guitar for a lot longer than I've been out for track.

The Grizzlies nearly crowned another state champion Friday, but Natalie Hemphill settled for second place in the 4A girls 3,000-meter run.

Hemphill and Claire Michel of Clackamas battled for supremacy over the final five laps of the 7&

189; -lap race, but Michel built a small lead with a couple laps remaining and pulled away at the end to win in 10:05.17. Hemphill was clocked in 10:09.08, which was a lifetime best by about five seconds.

She (Michel) took off (from the rest of the field) with five laps to go and I said, 'Oh, my God, I don't know if I can stay with her, Hemphill said. But I came up here to win, and so I gutted it up and went with her.

I didn't win, but I gave everything I had and that's what matters, Hemphill added.

In the 4A boys 3,000, Crater's Isaac Stoutenburgh was expected to duel Central Catholic's Kenny Klotz for top honors. Stoutenburgh blazed through the first mile in 4:27 and had the lead, but Klotz took control with three laps remaining and triumphed in a lifetime best of 8:18.35.

Century's Jerhoemee Murray also passed up Stoutenburgh and recorded a 20-second PR, hitting the tape in 8:24.15. Stoutenburgh, who faded badly over the final two laps, was third in 8:36.45.

Crater's Jake Keyser registered a seven-second PR and finished fourth in 8:42.37.

I was feeling OK at the mile mark, but I just didn't have it the last two laps, Stoutenburgh said. It's disappointing.

Roseburg's Adam Brink, meanwhile, emerged as the 4A boys state pole vault champion for the second straight year.

Brink, who's been nursing a foot injury for the past month, cleared 15 feet. He then made three unsuccessful attempts at what would have been a school-record 15-5.

He was struggling to get into the air today, and so we cut his approach from 95 feet to 75 feet, Roseburg coach Jim Moyer said. His foot's OK now but he's had to take some practice time off and it's been a mental struggle for him. But Adam showed today what kind of a competitor he is.

Other state placers in the 4A meet from the SOC were Eagle Point's Alyssa McClellan, who was sixth in the girls javelin (129-6), and North Medford's Irene Kendig, who was seventh in the girls long jump (16-7&

190; ).

West Salem emerged as the 4A boys scoring leader with 18 points, while Hermiston leads the 4A girls team scoring with 17 points.

Henley freshman Taylor Wallace was Friday's bright light in the 3A meet from the Skyline Conference as she won the girls 3,000 in 10:07.03. Phoenix senior Marci Klimek placed fourth in 10:33.8.

Illinois Valley's Emily Dudley was the runner-up in the girls javelin (127-3).

Phoenix freshman Elliot Jantzer ran a lifetime best of 8:59.75 to finish fifth in the boys 3,000.

Hidden Valley's Jordan Hayter took third in the boys pole vault (13-6), and Ryan VanCleave claimed fourth in the boys long jump (21-5&

188; ).

Estacada, with 18 points, and Astoria, with 23, paced the 3A boys and 3A girls team scoring, respectively, after Day 1.

The meet continues today at 10 a.m., with the first running events, the 4x100 relays, set to begin at — p.m.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail Jaxon gets in on action, wins discus title"dhunt@mailtribune.com.