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Milhollin wins high jump battle

South Medford's Josh Milhollin jogged from one end of the stadium to the other.

He had already taken the lead in the high jump finals with a leap of 6 feet, 6 inches, and his chief rival, state-leader Josh Pecktol of North Medford, had missed twice and had one last try to make the same height.

But Milhollin couldn't stay and watch. He was due up for another throw in the javelin.

In a surreal moment, Milhollin and Pecktol faced each other from opposite ends of North Medford High's Bowerman Field Thursday. They started their approaches at the same time. They flexed at the same time, Milhollin to throw and Pecktol to jump. To be sure, it was a present-day joust, punctuated seconds later when the spear planted and the bar fell to the ground.

The symbolism was evident, but to say Milhollin stuck it to Pecktol would belie their friendship.

Milhollin "watched over there" for as long as he could, he said. With a personal best in the javelin already under his belt, he likely was more interested in the high-jump happenings.

Pecktol had gone 6-10 early in the season and shares the state lead. Milhollin's best is 6-7, a mark he made at the Grants Pass Rotary meet the same day Pecktol's team was in California. As soon as Pecktol heard Milhollin got over the 6-4 hump he'd been at all season, the Black Tornado senior sent congratulations.

"He was stoked," recalled Milhollin, a junior who has the state's third-best mark. "He sent me a message on MySpace. It was awesome. Josh is a great guy."

And he was the favorite on the first day of the two-day meet, which resumes Saturday, with field events at 12:30 p.m. and running events at 2.

"I like being the underdog, coming in under the radar," said Milhollin. "It pushes me to compete even harder knowing what he can do and what I have to do to surpass it."

Their performances were indicative of strong showings by North Medford and South Medford in the Day 1 finals.

The Panthers got a SWC-record effort from Daniel Kinney in the boys javelin and a win from Piper Delaney in the girls 3,000 meters.

North Medford got victories from Mychal DeSoto in the boys shot put and from Kim Gomez in the girls javelin. Drew Jordan of the Black Tornado placed second in the 3,000, an event in which he had the top-seeded time. Finals were also held in the long jump.

The top two individuals and those who meet qualifying standards advance to the Class 6A state meet next week at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Sheldon leads the boys team race with 47 points. South Eugene (41), North Medford (25) and South Medford (23) follow.

Sheldon also tops the girls team standings with 44 points, followed by South Medford (36) and North Medford (31).

Milhollin cleared 6-6 on his first attempt and said when that happens, jumpers feel like they can go another couple inches because of the energy they conserve. However, being in two events proved a double-edged sword. In the javelin, which he took up this year and hadn't practiced in five weeks, he PR'd 4 feet and gained valuable team points and self-assuredness.

"I think it gave me confidence to do what I did in the javelin," said Milhollin.

But trotting back-and-forth on a sunny day also sapped some of his strength. He tried three times to clear 6-8, but only the second, when he kicked the bar with his heels, was close.

"It was Josh's day, it wasn't mine," said Pecktol. "That's what it came down to. He's a great jumper and I'm a great jumper. He had more jump in his legs today. All props to him."

Kinney broke his own school record in the javelin with a launch of 194-1, bettering his 188-5 throw at the Crater Rotary Classic last month. The old meet record was 181-0 by North Medford's Brock Bennett last year.

The South Medford senior, who had two other throws in the 170 range, saw a big one coming.

"Yes definitely," he said. "My goal all season was to get over 190. I just had to put my steps and arm together and get a good throw."

DeSoto was in a "three-horse race," he said, with runner-up Justin Fabrick of South Eugene and third-place Stephen Adams of South Medford. All three were within 14 inches of each other entering the meet, with Fabrick the best at 50-41/2.

DeSoto is a junior, the others seniors.

Jordan led most of the 3,000, but Sammy Kirtner of South Eugene caught him on the final stretch and triumphed in 8:59.14. Jordan's time was 8:59.88. Kirtner nipped Jordan at the end in last year's district 3,000, and Jordan won the state cross country title last fall ahead of his rival.

The Black Tornado had a couple boys shine in preliminary races. Jon McUne ran the second-fastest 110 hurdles race in school history, clocking 14.98 seconds to advance. Tom Workman, a senior who played baseball until this year, had the fastest 400 (50.59) and was No. 2 in the 200 (22.82).

The South Medford boys got strong hurdle races from Brandon Hooper and Micah Diaz, each making the finals in both events. Mitch Singler ran season bests in the 200 (22.79) and 400 (50.62), and Perry Ryan set a personal best 9:05.03 in placing fourth in the 3,000.

Gomez, a sophomore who went to state last year in the discus, was the SWC leader entering the javelin but didn't feel pressure.

"I'm friendly with the girls I'm competing against," she said. "We're all pretty even and we all brought it today, so I feel good."

She brought home the gold with a throw of 123-11, just 21/2 feet off her personal best. It took her awhile to get her rhythm, however.

"At the beginning, I was a little slow and nervous," she said. "My steps were a little off."

Then she hit a 120 throw to finish the prelims and get herself "pumped up."

"I wanted more," she said, referring to her goal of 130, "but I didn't get it."

Delaney repeated as the SWC champion, clocking 10:39.08. Her teammate, freshman Blair Shanklin-Rice, was second in 11:04.36.

North Medford's Baylee Hearns had the top qualifying times in the 100, 200 and 400, and teammate Amber Black knocked more than two seconds off her PR in the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.31.

SWC District Track & Field

At Bowerman Field, North Medford High

Thursday's Finals

GIRLS

TEAM SCORES — Sheldon 47, South Eugene 41, North Medford 25, South Medford 23, Roseburg 19, Grants Pass 14.

3,000 — 1, Delaney, Piper, SM, 10:39.08. 2, Shanklin-Rice, Blair, SM, 11:04.36. 3, Helmick, Amelia, SE, 11:12.20. 4, Pyper, Breanna, NM, 11:23.49. 5, Zhu, Jennifer, NM, 11:29.58. 6, Kelly, Ali, SM, 11:43.90.

HIGH JUMP — 1, Shivers, Jessica, SE, 5-1. 2, Parker, Gabbi, S, 4-11. 3, Edgar, Annie, GP, J4-11. 4, Murphy, Mikayla, NM, J4-11. 4, McGhehey, Kelli, S, J4-11. 6, Zottola, Mikaela, GP, 4-10.

LONG JUMP — 1, Clark, Kristin, S, 16-9.50. 2, Applegate, Shay, SE, 16-6.50. 3, Smith, Courtney, GP, 15-10.50. 4, Sandling, Jenna, R, 15-10. 5, Butler, Tori, SE, 15-9.50. 6, Chambers, Sarah, NM, 15-9.25.

SHOT PUT — 1, Froehlich, Amy, S, 39-9. 2, Calhoun, Kallie, SE, 39-6.75. 3, Boring, Natalie, S, 35-4.25. 4, Fultz, Ty, R, 34-6.50. 5, Swayne, Amber, SE, 34-4. 6, Brennan, Grace, SM, 33-11.50.

JAVELIN — 1, Gomez, Kim, NM, 123-11. 2, Head, Gabby, S, 119-4. 3, Hutchins, Courtney, R, 118-0. 4, Fultz, Ty, R, 115-10. 5, Houck, Tessa, NM, 105-9. 6, Butler, Tori, SE, 101-3.

BOYS

TEAM SCORES — Sheldon 44, South Medford 36, North Medford 31, South Eugene 24, Grants Pass 21, Roseburg 13.

3,000 — 1, Kirtner, Sammy, SE, 8:59.14. 2, Jordan, Drew, NM, 8:59.88. 3, Melancon, Matthew, S, 9:03.66. 4, Perry, Ryan, SM, 9:05.03. 5, Randall, Hayden, S, 9:35.49. 6, Huddleston, David, NM, 9:40.33.

HIGH JUMP — 1, Milhollin, Josh, SM, 6-6. 2, Pecktol, Josh, NM, 6-4. 3, Juilfs, JJ, S, 6-2. 4, Skeele, Ryan, S, 6-0. 5, Robbins, Michael, GP, 5-10. 6, Jones, Stephen, GP, J5-10.

LONG JUMP — 1, Wright, DJ, S, 22-11.75. 2, Jagelski, Tyrell, S, 22-5.50. 3, Ritchie, Brandon, GP, 22-2.50. 4, Cervantes, Dalton, GP, 21-9. 5, Richardson, Matthew, GP, 21-3.50. 6, Clark, Brennon, NM, 20-7.25.

SHOT PUT — 1, Desoto, Mychal, NM, 48-3.25. 2, Fabrick, Justin, SE, 47-6. 3, Adams, Stephen, SM, 47-1.75. 4, Miner, Drew, S, 47-1.25. 5, Pinkerton, Tim, GP, 45-0.75. 6, Cutting, Luke, SM, 44-2.

JAVELIN — 1, Kinney, Daniel, SM, 194-1. 2, Hutchins III, Selmar, R, 174-4. 3, Haines, Dustin, SE, 173-9. 4, Brookbank, Tyler, R, 166-11. 5, Milhollin, Josh, SM, 165-0. 6, Faulhaber, Max, S, 161-8.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

South Medford’s Josh Milhollin soars to a win in the high jump at the Southwest Conference district meet on Thursday. - Jamie Lusch