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North Medford’s Faust brings home gold in long jump

EUGENE — Kaison Faust enjoyed a bit of redemption at the Class 6A track and field state championships Friday at Hayward Field.

The multi-talented North Medford senior captured the long jump title, adding another impressive accomplishment to a decorated prep career.

“This caps off my high school, really, and it’s just a really, really nice way to cap it off,” he said.

Faust uncorked a jump of 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches on his first attempt, and no one else in the field came close to threatening the mark. Runner-up Jake Follett of Oregon City went 22-6 1/4.

Faust was a local highlight on the first day of the two-day meet. Competition concludes Saturday.

Emma Schmerbach, a South Medford freshman, came on strong on the final lap to place fourth in the 6A girls 3,000 meters.

A smattering of other Rogue Valley athletes hit the medals podium as a handful of finals events were held in each division.

Faust’s winning jump matched his career best, achieved last week when he set the Southwest Conference district meet record.

He entered state with the best seed mark.

It was the same as in 2017, when he failed to make the finals.

“Last year, I was really kind of disappointed in what I did,” said Faust.

“Nerves got to me,” he added. “It was my first time ever jumping at Hayward, and I wasn’t mentally prepared. The coaches really taught me to stay mentally prepared, stay warm, loose, and it paid off in the end.”

At the district meet, Faust popped his biggest jump on the fifth of sixth attempts.

This time, he got it out of the way early.

He had another attempt a smidge over 23 feet.

“My preparation was good, so I felt pretty confident,” said Faust. “I felt relaxed. My (event) coach (Jeremiah Griffin) is always telling me I’m going to point you in the right direction, then get out of your way because you already know what you’re doing. You have the athleticism to do whatever you want, so go out and be you.”

The result was a gold medal.

In college, Faust will do another sport that requires jumping: basketball. Bound for Oregon Tech, he was SWC player of the year and all-state this past winter.

It’s possible he’ll compete in track for the Owls, he said.

Schmerbach needed a little extra oomph at the end of her race to claim fourth. She picked off a couple foes on the last lap with a nice surge, but needed one last lunge to hang on to her spot at the finish.

Schmerbach set a personal record of 10 minutes, 12.32 seconds, beating by 7 seconds her prior best.

She edged out South Salem’s Anna Chau, who was 2/100ths of a second behind.

Jesuit’s Makenna Schumacher won in 9:57.99, and Sunset’s Lucy Huelskamp was second in 10:01.69.

The pace of the finals wasn’t what Schmerbach expected.

“I have a feeling the person who was ranked first (Huelskamp) didn’t really want to lead,” said Schmerbach. “So she slowed down so someone else could take the lead, and it took a while for everyone to get the pace.

“I thought it would be way quicker in the state championships. It was really surprising and confusing.”

Schmerbach hung just behind the top four in the early going, but she began to fade with a couple laps to go.

“I definitely didn’t like the place I was heading into,” she said. “My goal was to catch my breath and try to pick off as many people as I could at the end.”

Other locals to earn medals were North Medford’s Jane Ersepke, South Medford’s Cole Boster, Crater’s Cody Fisher and Ariana Marks and Eagle Point’s Andrea Flores.

Ersepke placed seventh in the 6A girls long jump with a mark of 17-3 1/4.

Fisher was seventh in the 5A boys discus at 150-2.

Boster placed eighth in the 6A boys discus with a mark of 142-9.

Marks was eighth in the 5A girls 3,000 in 10:42.03.

Flores high-jumped 5-0 to tie for eighth in the 5A girls competition.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com

Andy Atkinson/ Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Kaison Faust prepares to land his first jump at 23 feet, 5 inches, winning the boys 6A long jump.