PHS senior Micah Matthews had a career-best time in the 110 high hurdles at the OWC Championships. (Photo provided by Leo Pausch)

The Philomath High School boys track and field team qualified in 13 events for state with a series of exceptional performances Friday and Saturday at the Oregon West Conference Championships in Sweet Home.

The Warriors won the meet as a team with 178 points to beat out runner-up Newport (126.5) and third-place Cascade (117).

“The boys had a good day, you know, they scored more points than we expected,” PHS coach Joe Fulton said. “We’ll score a few points at state — not enough to challenge … Marshfield’s got that wrapped up.”

But even without the overall depth to challenge for the state title, the Philomath boys still have plenty to work with to create a little noise next weekend at Hayward Field. For starters, senior Micah Matthews could be a major point-producing athlete after qualifying in all four of his events — the 110 high hurdles, 300 hurdles, high jump and pole vault.

Fulton was relieved to see how Matthews came through at the district meet.

“I’ve been concerned throughout the season because he’s struggled with a few little nagging injuries and he got beat here and there or he didn’t compete,” Fulton said. “But then you get to the big stage and he comes through.”

Senior Micah Matthews won the high jump at a height of 6 feet. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

In the 110 hurdles, Matthews had a career-best time of 15.34 seconds to edge Cascade senior Ethan Newton, who was right behind him at 15.46.

“That’s his best time ever and he got pushed, but he’s really competitive,” Fulton said. “Then he came back and qualified in the 300 hurdles.”

Matthews finished the 300 hurdles in 42.97 for second place behind Newton. In his field events, Matthews cleared 6 feet even to win the high jump and went 11-8 in the pole vault for second place.

Another senior leaving his mark on PHS track history is Ben Hernandez, who took first place in Sweet Home in both the 3,000 and 1,500. Fulton said Hernandez “had an incredible meet” with a personal-best time of 9:01.76 to win the 3,000 Friday and came back to take the 1,500 Saturday in a season-best 4:11.11.

Philomath senior Ben Hernandez won both the 3,000 and 1,500 at districts. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

With junior Simon King winning the 800 in 2:02.97, the Warriors swept the three distance events. Senior Mateo Candanoza qualified on a wild-card spot after placing third in the 3,000 (9:20.14). He just missed getting in through that same method in the 1,500 after finishing third in 4:17.55.

In the sprints, sophomore Warwick Bushnell took first in the 400 with a personal-best time of 51.38. He just edged senior teammate Nixon Mooney, who had a 51.88 and also qualified for state. Bushnell was second in the 200 in 23.01.

Freshman CD Nuno placed second in the long jump (19-10.25) and senior Seth Arthurs jumped to second in the triple jump (40-7.5) to round out the team’s state qualifier list in the individual events.

Sophomore Warwick Bushnell, right, and senior Nixon Mooney finished 1-2 in the 400. (Photo provided by Shelly Matthews)

Both relays will head to Eugene as well with winning performances at Sweet Home. The 4-by-100 relay of Nuno, Mooney, senior Brody Bushnell and Warwick Bushnell took first in 44.35 in a close race. Nuno, King, Mooney and Warwick Bushnell ran the 4-by-400 in 3:34.16 to beat out runner-up Cascade.

Other PHS competitors with top-four finishes at districts included junior Lukas Dunn in the 800 (third, 2:06.23), Nuno in the 400 (fourth, 54.45) and freshman Josiah Peters in the javelin (fourth, 146-8).

The 4A state meet runs this coming Friday and Saturday at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

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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