Holland makes history again
GRESHAM — EJ Holland didn’t run a perfect race.
But he was close.
The seemingly indomitable Ashland junior broke the Class 5A state championship meet record in the 3,000 meters for the second straight year and, as he did in the 1,500 last weekend, established one of the top times in the nation Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College.
Even the unflappable Holland was taken aback.
“I looked at the clock and I was like, no way,” he exclaimed.
The meet, typically held at Hayward Field, was moved as that fabled venue is rebuilt.
The setting didn’t seem to matter much to Holland, whose time of 8 minutes, 13.10 seconds bettered his personal record by 8 seconds and the meet record by more than 13.
As has been the case the past three years, Crater senior Jantz Tostenson was right there, helping drive the pace and threatening to steal Holland’s thunder — appropriate since a light rain graduated to a downpour as they splashed around the track.
It wasn’t until the final 200 meters that Holland beat back Tostenson’s do-or-die surge and charged up the final straight to the eye-popping time.
In other events, highlights included Crater senior Cody Le Bel living up to his top seeding with the school’s first pole vault championship in 38 years, and Eagle Point sophomore Austin Strawn, the defending champion, placing second in the 5A boys javelin.
The 6A and 5A meets are running simultaneously and end today.
Last year, Holland and Tostenson both bettered the previous meet record, with the former crossing the finish line first in 8:26.44.
Holland lowered that PR to 8:21.17 in a competition in early spring in Arcadia.
“I knew I could go faster, for sure,” he said. “I ran a poor race that day.”
And go faster he did.
Holland’s time Saturday ranks third for the prep outdoor season in the U.S., according to popular website athletic.net. Not every state uses the site.
Cole Sprout of Colorado has the fastest time of 8:10.31. Californian Nico Young is second at 8:11.02. Holland and Tostenson rank Nos. 3 and 4.
“I think we both push each other pretty hard every race,” said Tostenson, who didn’t fret too much about coming in second.
“That’s a 14-second PR, so I’m not going to hang my head,” said the Georgetown-bound Comet.
Familiarity with each other played a role in how the race evolved.
Holland likes to go hard at the start. True to form, he was in front for the first two 66-second laps.
“I like to front-run and put people through the hurt locker early on,” said Holland. “Sixty-five, 66 the first couple laps. It’s gonna hurt.”
With three laps left, it was down to the two Rogue Valley runners.
“With about 450 (meters) to go,” said Holland, “I’m, like, fresh. I can do this. You know the speed is there. I’ve done some great shorter workouts preparing, and I knew I was ready.”
He also knew his Midwestern League rival would be lurking.
As the bell sounded for the final lap, Holland peeked at the clock.
“It was going to be a fast one,” he noted.
Tostenson was crafting his own plan. It would be foolhardy to challenge Holland on a turn, so he waited until the back straight. With 250 meters to go, just like he did a week earlier when he overtook Holland in the MWL meet for a rare victory, Tostenson nudged ever so slightly in front.
“That took a lot,” said Tostenson, “because when you match somebody, they’re doing everything not to let you get around. So we’re sprinting. EJ, he responded well. I give him props for that.”
Holland knew the move was coming.
“Jantz, man, he’s crazy,” said the Grizzly.
“He came on me, and I said, ‘No, not today.’”
“Today I was determined,” said Holland. “It’s my day. I’m gonna defend my title.”
Not even the rain could spoil his day.
In fact, he rather enjoyed the elements.
“I could barely see,” said Holland. “I needed to have my glasses and get little windshield wipers on them, you know? I was just getting soaked. But I like running in the rain. It’s fun. It’s Oregon. You’ve got to run in the rain sometimes.”
Holland and Tostenson will hook up one last time in the 1,500 finals today. Holland is the defending champion, and his time of 3:50.42 at last week’s MWL meet — when Tostenson went out fast the first three laps before fading — tops athletic.net’s 1,500 national list.
Another Ashland runner had a strong showing in the 3,000. Sophomore Reed Pryor set a PR by 12 seconds, placing fifth in 8:40.83.
As much as Holland embraced the soggy weather, Le Bel did his best to fight through it in the pole vault.
Slippery shoes and slippery poles aren’t conducive to skyward launches.
Le Bel persevered, however, clearing 14-3 to win the Comets’ first title in the event since Rick King captured the 1981 crown at 14-6.
“It feels really great,” said Le Bel. “It feels really special to me.”
He was seeded first after soaring 15-3 the previous week to break his own school record.
“Yeah,” he said, “I felt a lot of pressure, watching these guys vault. They’re all really good.”
Crook County’s Noah Chaney didn’t have any misses until he got to 14-3 and missed on all three attempts. Le Bel cleared the height on his second try, giving him the title. He had the bar placed at 15-0 and tried a new, stiffer pole, which led to a scary outcome when he fell into the standard, scraping a knee.
He shook it off, but couldn’t make the height.
“I felt a little bit off,” said Le Bel. “But it’s just been a really bad day. The weather did not cooperate. It was cold, raining. I was soaking wet with all my shoes and stuff. It was just not the greatest day, but I still got first place, so ”
Strawn had similar concerns when throwing the javelin.
He also had to contend with North Bend’s Ty Hampton, the national leader in the event.
The senior Hampton won with a mark of 213-11, breaking the meet record of another Eagle Point thrower, Garrett Snow. Snow’s mark was 205-8 in 2012.
Strawn’s best throw was 191-11, but most attempts were in the 187-foot range.
“So all my throws were pretty close together,” he said. “Normally, once it comes to the finals, I start throwing a little farther, but it started raining real hard. It’s really hard to throw a big throw when there’s puddles at your feet and your jav is wet.”
Other local athletes to medal were Ashland’s Alexa Hague in the 5A girls 3,000 and Crater’s Cody Fisher in the 5A boys shot put.
Hague, a senior, passed four runners on the final lap to make sure she hit the podium, clocking a personal-best 10:30.83.
The senior Fisher placed sixth with a throw of 49 feet, 6 1/4 inches.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TEAM SCORES: Sherwood 16, Central Catholic 15, Bend 13.5, South Eugene 13, Sheldon 13, Lake Oswego 13, Tualatin 10, Franklin 10, Forest Grove 10, Beaverton 10, Roseburg 9, McMinnville 8, Barlow 8, Roosevelt 6, Century 6, Sunset 5, Wilson 4.5, Oregon City 4, Westview 4, Jesuit 4, Grants Pass 4, Canby 3, Summit 3, Sandy 2, Clackamas 1.
3,000 — 1, Charlie Robertson, Franklin, 8:32.08; 8, Daniel Beckstead, Grants Pass, 8:37.94; 10, Michael Maiorano, 8:45.26.
SHOT PUT — 1, Kis Mariano, Tualatin, 557-11.
JAVELIN — 1, Joseph Nizich, Central Catholic, 209-3; 12, Colby Neron, North Medford, 152-9.
POLE VAULT — 1, Simon Seung Park, South Eugene, 16-6; 8, Kolby Bautista, Grants Pass, 13-6; 15, Turner Nye, North Medford, 12-6.
TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Nathan Reed, Beaverton, 44-10; 7, Luke Lambson, Grants Pass, 44-0.5.
TEAM SCORES: Westview 18, Summit 18, Mountain View 14, Centennial 12, St. Mary’s Academy 10, Jesuit 8, Sunset 8, Lincoln 7, Benson 6, Bend 6, West Linn 6, Gresham 5, Grant 5, West Salem 4, South Salem 4, Franklin 4, Tualatin 4, Beaverton 3.5, Madison 3.5, McKay 3, Sheldon 3, Lake Oswego 2, Oregon City 1, Glencoe 1.
3,000 — 1, Fiona Max, Summit, 9:43.91; 13, Emma Schmerbach, South Medford, 10:39.07.
JAVELIN — 1, Isabelle Esler, St. Mary’s Academy, 136-6; 2, 10, Mackenzie Van Ess, Grants Pass, 118-7; 11, Kamaile Kaeo, North Medford, 116-9.
HIGH JUMP — 1, Madison McHone, Centennial, 5-6.
LONG JUMP — 1, Colleen Uzoekwe, Westview, 18-4.5.
TEAM SCORES: Churchill 26.5, North Bend 24.5, Silverton 22, Crater 21, Crook County 19, Ashland 14, Pendleton 13, Hood River Valley 10, Eagle Point 8, West Albany 6, Parkrose 6, South Albany 5, Scappoose 4, Hillsboro 3, Dallas 3, North Eugene 3, Redmond 2, La Salle Prep 1.5, The Dalles 1.5, Crescent Valley 1, North Salem 1.
3,000 — 1, Evan Holland, Ashland, 8:13.1; 2, Jantz Tostenson, Crater, 8:15.01; 5, Reed Pryor, Ashland, 8:40.83.
SHOT PUT — 1, Henry Buckles, Hood River Valley, 59-5.5; 6, Cody Fisher, Crater, 49-6.25.
JAVELIN — 1, Ty Hampton, North Bend, 213-11; Austin Strawn, Eagle Point, 191-11.
POLE VAULT — 1, Cody Le Bel, Crater, 14-3.
TRIPLE JUMP — 1, Elijah Fields, Churchill, 45-3.25.
TEAM SCORES: Silverton 20, North Salem 15.5, Hood River Valley 15, North Bend 14, La Salle Prep 14, Putnam 11, Corvallis 9, Central 9, Crescent Valley 8, North Eugene 8, West Albany 8, Milwaukie 6, Springfield 6, Ashland 4, Crook County 3, St. Helens 3, Hillsboro 1.5, Pendleton 1.
3,000 — 1, Frances Dickinson, Hood River Valley, 10:12.83; 5, Alexa Hague, Ashland, 10:30.83.
JAVELIN — 1, Riley Traeger, Silverton, 138-9.
HIGH JUMP — 1, Savannah Reilly, Silverton, 5-4; 10, Andrea Flores, Eagle Point, 4-10.
LONG JUMP — 1, Chelsea Howard, North Bend, 17-11.75.