Philomath High senior Janice Hellesto won three individual events and anchored the short relay at the district meet in Sweet Home. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

Philomath High’s girls track and field team simply dominated the Oregon West Conference Championships Friday and Saturday at Sweet Home. The Warriors scored points in all 17 events and will be sending several athletes to state after qualifying in 15 events.

“I have to look at all of the results from all of the districts but we’re definitely a contender for the state title,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said.

Sophomore Janice Hellesto had an exceptional meet in Sweet Home with three wins in individual events and as anchor of the winning 4-by-100 relay. Hellesto typically runs with the 4-by-400 relay and with her sprinting a leg at the recent Cottage Grove meet, Philomath recorded its fastest time and the second-best time in 4A this season.

Fulton decided to hold her out of the long relay at districts, however, with what appeared to be a favorable team scoring and state-qualifying situation if she competed in a third individual event. And he was right with Hellesto winning the 100 (12.80 seconds), 200 (26.41) and the long jump (17 feet, 6.5 inches). The 4-by-100 relay that also included junior Ellie Morton, sophomore Natalie Dunn and senior Ingrid Hellesto won in 50.38.

Athletes are limited to four events in a high school meet.

“Janice Hellesto just makes my life so difficult because she keeps doing incredible things, so we have to make a decision,” said Fulton, who heading into the conference meet had mentioned that she would return to the 4-by-400 at state and either drop the long jump or 100.

But Hellesto’s distance in the long jump might’ve changed his way of thinking. Her mark ranks second in 4A and was tops among any of the district meets. And in the sprints, she ranks third statewide in both the 100 and 200.

PHS senior Ingrid Hellesto clears a hurdle on her way to victory in the 100 hurdles. To her left is sophomore Petra Hernandez, who placed fifth. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

Factoring into the decision might be Ingrid Hellesto. She qualified for state in the 100-meter hurdles with second place (16.97) but came up one spot short in the 300 hurdles with third (49.94). With the energy-zapping 300 hurdles no longer on Ingrid Hellesto’s event card, Fulton believes she will be fresh for the meet-ending long relay, which might be needed if he decides not to run her younger sister on it.

In other winning performances on the track, Dunn took first in the 400 with a time of 1:00.33 and in the long distances, sophomore Adele Beckstead came from behind to beat Stayton rival Hope Bridge in a personal-best 10:49.09.

“Adele somehow managed to find a kick at the end — and Hope’s a good 800 runner — and she just tracked her down,” Fulton said. “Hope had taken off to a huge lead and then Adele slowly but surely caught up to her and then passed her. And then with 200 meters to go, Hope passed her and it looked like she was going to run away with it … but Adele found another gear down the final stretch and won by 1 second. It was very exciting.”

Adele Beckstead, right, and Ana Candanoza, center, both qualified for state in the 3,000. Also pictured from PHS is freshman Lucy King, who finished sixth. (Photo provided by Eddy Pausch)

Beckstead also qualified in the 1,500 with a time of 5:06.06. Freshman Ana Candanoza placed third in the 800 (2:30.27) and the 3,000 (11:12.82) but still qualified in both of those events as a wildcard entry.

Morton moves on to state with second in both the 100 (13.10) and long jump (17-0.75). In addition to the short relay, the Warriors also won the 4-by-400 with sophomore Brooke McDaniel, sophomore Melea Lattin, Ingrid Hellesto and Dunn with a time of 4:14.88.

“Natalie ran a brilliant anchor in the 4-by-4 with missing Janice,” Fulton said. “She brought us from behind and just ran away with it.”

Sophomore Anneka Steen cleared 5-3 in the high jump to take first place, a height that leads the state.

“She was trying 5-4 and she came down on her back on the bar and got a real nasty bruise across her back,” Fulton said. “I tried to hold her back but she went over and won the triple jump anyway. I wouldn’t let her run in the 4-by-4 and she was mad, but she’ll run it at state.”

Steen’s winning mark in the triple jump was 33-2.5.

PHS sophomore Anneka Steen cleared 5-3 to win the high jump. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

In addition to Steen’s wins, Philomath picked up another first-place performance in the javelin with junior Ahnika Tryon throwing 113-9. And the Warriors had a 1-2 finish in the pole vault with sophomore Aspen Russell in first with a PR of 7-11 and junior Madison Schaffer taking second after clearing 7-8. Junior Madison Juhl also qualified in the discus with a second-place finish (104-2).

Lattin, who finished third in the 1,500 (5:13.05) missed qualifying as a wildcard by about 1 second.

Others that turned in top four performances at the OWC meet included Morton in the high jump (third, 4-8), Dunn in the 200 (27.39), sophomore Hanna McDaniel in the 400 (third, 1:05.90), senior Abigail Brown in the shot put (third, 30-6), Russell in the triple jump (third, 31-6.75), Brooke McDaniel in the 400 (fourth, 1:05.92), freshman Maggie King in the 800 (fourth, 2:39.13), Juhl in the pole vault (6-11) and Steen in the long jump (15-6.5).

Philomath’s point totals added up to 272 to easily outdistance runner-up Cascade, which finished with 147.

The state meet runs Friday and Saturday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene.

Brad Fuqua

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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