PREP TRACK: Ashland's Holland runs fastest time in nation
CENTRAL POINT — EJ Holland doesn’t lose many high school foot races.
When he did on Thursday in the 3,000-meter finals at the Midwestern League championships, it left the Ashland junior talking to himself.
“I kind of reflected,” said Holland. “I needed to refocus. It was a good chance to say, ‘Hey, look, I dropped my hand. I didn’t play my cards right.’ But I went home and said I’m not going to let that race define me. I’m not going to make that the definition of the rest of my season.”
He returned to the track on Saturday for the final day of the meet, and that race might serve as a defining moment.
Holland ran the nation’s fastest high school 1,500, according to athletic.net, clocking 3 minutes, 50.42 seconds. No. 2 on the list is Carter Storm of Kingwood, Texas, with a 3:51.96. Not all states utilize the track website.
The performance came against Jantz Tostenson, the Crater senior who defeated him on Thursday and has served as a challenging opponent the past couple years in track and cross country.
Holland improved significantly on his previous best of 3:53.71, established at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays two weeks ago, and broke the 42-year-old school record. Jon Pentland set the former standard of 3:50.5 in 1977.
Holland didn’t know the breadth of his achievement until after the meet and results were posted.
But he had an inkling.
“I’m in the shape to go 3:50 or faster, and I knew that,” he said immediately after the race. “So I just had to execute.”
In the 3,000 two days earlier, Holland said he made a tactical error by pushing the pace with 1,000 meters to go. Tostenson didn’t go away; much the contrary. He won by about 9 seconds.
“I messed up,” said Holland. “I played to my weakness.”
When the intriguing rematch arrived, Tostenson asserted himself, setting a fast pace through the first three laps.
“Jantz really helped me on that third lap,” said Holland. “I was tightening up a little, so I said, all right, let him take that third lap and get to the bell and see what I can do. Then I said, all right, it’s my turn.”
When the clanging sounded for the last lap, Holland surged. He quickly put distance between him and Tostenson, who was second in 3:57.07.
Holland has won three state championships in track and cross country. Tostenson, who is headed to Georgetown on a track scholarship, was right behind him for two of them.
“He’s an awesome runner, and that win on Thursday, he deserved that,” said Holland.
The two will hook up at the state meet Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
The top two in each event qualified, as did those who met qualifying standards. Others will get in as wild cards.
“Now we’re even, right,” said Holland. “Going to state, one district title for you, one for me. So anything can happen.”
In the team race, North Bend captured the boys title with 124.7 points, and Ashland was second with 110.5.
North Bend claimed the girls championship with 124 points.
The only other Ashland boy winner was sprinter Anthony Smith, who took the 200 in 22.33 seconds.
Crater had three victors, including Cody Le Bel, who set the pole vault school record.
Le Bel cleared 15 feet for the first time in competition, going 15-3 and breaking his Comets mark of 14-9.
The senior came into the season with a best of 14-0, achieved during an indoor meet in January.
He attributed the foot-plus jump to “practicing every day and relaxing and having a lot of fun.”
Le Bel also went to a stiffer pole Saturday.
“There’s always different poles for everybody,” he said. “I changed because with all the fun you’re having here today, you have a lot of adrenalin going through you.
“I was surprised when I jumped 15-3. I had a feeling I was going to get 15-0, but the weather started kicking up, so I was happy.”
Other Crater boy winners were Ryland McCullough in the 800, clocking 2:00.59; and Chase Sherer in the high jump, going 6-0.
Runners-up who qualified for state included Ashland’s Arlo Davis (800, 2:00.62), Nolan Rinefort (high jump, 5-8) and its 4x100 relay (Gabriel Ekwall, Austin Harris, Eriq Rodriguez and Benjamin Spillman, 43.50); and Crater’s Cody Fisher (discus, 154-7.5) and its 4x400 relay (Cole Ryerson, Noah Cline, JC Herring and Matthew Schenk, 3:35.70).
In the girls meet, Ashland’s Alexa Hague added to her sterling district showing, winning the 1,500 in 4:53.91. She captured the 3,000 on Thursday.
The senior was third in both events last season and missed out on state after qualifying as a sophomore in the 1,500.
“I feel amazing,” she said. “This is my senior year so, like, this is spectacular. I’ve been wanting this for a long time, so being able to get district champion in both my events made me thrilled.”
She went out fast, opening a 10-meter lead in no time. This from one who used to be a slow starter.
“Now I have to work on not going out too hard,” said Hague. “That might have been a little too hard for me, but still it was a good pace.”
Even though she didn’t finish as strongly as she preferred, she wasn’t threatened. Runner-up Abigail Raven of Thurston was 5 seconds back.
Eagle Point sophomore MaLayni Stovall accounted for another local girls victory. She captured the 400 in 1:00.61.
Girls who finished second to earn a state berth included Eagle Point’s Andrea Flores (high jump, 5-1) and its 4x100 relay (Kathryn Devitt, Flores, Nasya Hall and Makenna Maldenado, 51.16), and Crater’s Jade Hopkins (800, 2:25.88).
TEAM SCORES: North Bend 124.7, Ashland 110.5, Churchill 108.9, Crater 103.2, Willamette 89.7, Thurston 38, Eagle Point 35.5, Springfield 30, North Eugene 22.5..
100 — 1, Jonathan Chilcote, NB,10.73; 200 — 1, Anthony Smith, Ash, 22.33; 400 — 1, John Efraimson, NB, 51.09; 800 — 1, Ryland McCullough, Cra, 2:00.59; 1,500 — 1, EJ Holland, Ash, 3:50.42; 110 HURDLES — 1, Dylan Murray, Wil, 13.93; 300 HURDLES — 1, Dylan Murray, Wil, 38.26; 4X100 RELAY — 1, North Bend (Teron Catanzaro, Jonathan Chilcote, John Efraimson, Martin Godinez), 43.43; 4X400 RELAY — 1, Willamette (Dylan Murray, Joshua Sawyer, Dakota Mason, Joe Brown), 3:30.99.
DISCUS — 1, Ty Hampton, NB, 169-5.5; HIGH JUMP — 1, Chase Sherer, Cra, 6-0; POLE VAULT — 1, Cody Le Bel, Cra; 15-3; TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Elijah Fields, Chu, 45-2.5.
TEAM SCORES: North Bend 124, Churchill 116.5, Thurston 87, Willamette 78, Springfield 59.5, North Eugene 52, Crater 52, Ashland 51, Eagle Point 41 .
100 — 1, Nina Richardson, NE, 12.15; 200 — 1, Nina Richardson, NE, 25.65; 400 — 1, MaLayni Stovall, EP, 1:01.61; 800 — 1, Celeste Sinko, NB, 2:25.86; 1,500 — 1, Alexa Hague, Ash, 4:53.91; 100 HURDLES — 1, Adael Scatena, Thu, 14.47; 300 HURDLES — 1, Adael Scatena, Thu, 44.60; 4X100 RELAY — 1, Thurston (Taryne Gormley, Megan Miller, Adael Scatena, Rhianna Brown), 50.51; 4X400 RELAY — 1, Thurston (Megan Miller, Abigail Raven, Rhianna Brown, Adael Scatena), 4:12.28.
DISCUS — 1, Natalie Willoughby, Wil, 120-10; HIGH JUMP — 1, Haley Snelgrove, NB, 5-2; TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Chelsea Howard, NB, 37-7.5.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org