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Stars shine at Crater Twilight meet

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South’s Walker breaks a pair of school records to lead Panthers’ strong start to season

CENTRAL POINT — Some of the Rogue Valley’s best track and field athletes took to Dutch Meyer Stadium on Thursday night, and they most definitely did not disappoint.

Whether it was South Medford’s Andrew Walker showing off his speed or Crater junior Tyrone Gorze leading the Comets’ distance-running charge, the Crater Twilight meet provided a glimpse into what those top athletes have to offer this spring.

Walker won the both the boys 100- and 200-meter dash, establishing new school records — and nearly setting new meet record times — in both events. Walker’s time in the 200 of 21.56 seconds was one-hundredth of a second off the meet record set in 2002, while his 10.74 mark in the 100 was one-tenth of a second from equaling the meet record set in 1977 by Bend’s Rick Gervais.

Both of Walker’s winning times were personal records.

Just for added measure, Walker — who showed off his blistering speed on the football field for South this past fall — also anchored the Panthers’ victorious 4x100 relay team that cruised to a win in 43.73 seconds, nearly two seconds ahead of second-place Crater (45.53).

“It was absolutely spectacular,” said South head coach David Kirkpatrick of Walker’s day.

“It comes with the preparation he put in during the offseason. He wanted to develop his drive, the first 20 or 30 meters in his races.”

Meanwhile, Gorze — the reigning Class 5A individual champion in cross-country — set a personal record in winning the boys 800 in 1 minute, 58.25 seconds. Gorze was also victorious in the boys 3,000, rolling to a win in 8:23.53, nearly seven seconds ahead of South’s Michael Maiorano.

Gorze had two of the Comets’ five event wins on the day, with Jeffrey Hellmann winning the boys 400 in 52.82 seconds and Gabriel Grant recording a personal record of 20 feet, 10 1/2 inches in the boys long jump. Carson Le Bel won the boys pole vault with a height of 12 feet.

Walker and Gorze weren’t the only ones to win with personal records Thursday.

South’s Asher Johnson won both of the boys hurdle events, capturing the 300 in a PR time of 42.36 and taking the 110 in 16.16. Like Walker, Johnson was a member of the Panthers 4x100 relay.

Madison Witt of Grants Pass won the girls 800 in a personal-record time of 2:25.72, while teammate Sophie Mock won the 100 hurdles in 16.84.

South Katie Clevenger won the girls 200 and 400 in 27.28 and 1:00.99, respectively.

“Asher, he’s been working a long time at the hurdles,” said Kirkpatrick. “He raced really well last year, but dealt with an injury so there wasn’t much known about him. We’ll continue to see him get some high places this season.”

“Katie has been out since December doing winter track with us,” continued Kirkpatrick. “She’s obviously a very talented two-sport athlete and an elite volleyball recruit. She’s just got a tremendous work ethic.”

In the throwing events, South’s Liam Hurley outdueled Ashland’s Raymond Hart to win the javelin. On his last throw, Hurley recorded a personal-best mark of 155-5, while Hart also recorded a PR at 147-11.

North Medford’s Jacquuelyn Aukusitino edged Grace Osborne of Grants Pass by a single inch to win the girls shot put with a personal-best throw of 35-7.

The Black Tornado’s David Fuiava also won the boys discus with a personal record, recording a throw of 132-6.

Ashland senior Grace Yaconelli, a third-place finisher at the Class 5A girls cross-country meet this past fall, won the 3,000 by nearly 56 seconds with a time of 10:44.81.

Cascade Christian’s lone individual win of the day came via Autumn Murray in the girls long jump (17-0).

“The kids have just been so resilient,” said Kirkpatrick. “It was great to see so many smiles and so many good performances. It’s been an amazing start to the season.”

BOYS

100 — 1, Andrew Walker, SM, 10.74; 200 — 1, Andrew Walker, SM, 21.56; 400 — 1, Jeffrey Hellmann, C, 52.82; 800 — 1, Tyrone Gorze, C, 1:58.25; 3,000 — 1, Tyrone Gorze, C, 8:23.53; 110 HURDLES — 1, Asher Johnson, SM, 16.16; 300 HURDLES — 1, Asher Johnson, SM, 42.36; 4X100 RELAY — 1, South Medford (Asher Johnson, Benjamin Krebs, Deacon Edgar, Andrew Walker), 43.73; 4X400 RELAY — 1, Ashland (Luke Seeley, Davidson Graham, Vincent Senn, Nathan Stein), 3:34.45.

SHOT PUT — 1, Parker Jarvis, GP, 46-10.5; DISCUS — 1, David Fuiava, NM, 132-6; JAVELIN — 1, Liam Hurley, SM, 155-5; HIGH JUMP — 1, Elijah Wytcherley, G, 6-7; POLE VAULT — 1, Carson Le Bel, C, 12-0; LONG JUMP — 1, Gabriel Grant, C, 20-10.5.

GIRLS

100 — 1, Karlee Touey, NV, 12.86; 200 — 1, Katie Clevenger, SM, 27.28; 400 — 1, Katie Clevenger, SM, 1:00.99; 800 — 1, Madison Witt, GP, 2:25.72; 3,000 — 1, Grace Yaconelli, A, 10:44.81; 100 HURDLES — 1, Sophie Mock, GP, 16.84; 300 HURDLES — 1, Karlee Touey, NM, 50.24; 4X100 RELAY — 1, Grants Pass (Zanai Vainuku-Johnson, Brooke Anderson, Adison Thorson, Sophie Mock), 52.19; 4X400 RELAY — 1, Grants Pass (Brooke Anderson, Madison Wilt, Callie Brandes, Sophie Mock), 4:22.16.

SHOT PUT — 1, Jacquuelyn Aukusitino, NM, 35-7; DISCUS — 1, Grace Osborne, GP, 109-7; JAVELIN — 1, Kailina Hamilton, GB, 104-11; HIGH JUMP — 1, Callie Branes, GP, 5-2; POLE VAULT — 1, Mackenzie Walker, StM, 11-6; LONG JUMP — 1, Autumn Murray, CC, 17-00.

Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRunners, including South Medford’s Andrew Walker, come out of the blocks during the start of the boys 100-meter dash at the Crater Twilight meet on Thursday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Liam Hurley launches his winning throw during the boys javelin at the Crater Twilight meet on Thursday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRunners come out of the blocks during the start of the girls 100-meter dash at the Crater Twilight meet on Thursday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneCascade Christian's Autumn Murray leaps into the sand winning the girls long jump at the Crater Twilight meet on Thursday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAshland's Grace Yaconelli is shown in the lead during the girls 3,000-meter race at the Crater Twilight meet on Thursday.