Warriors sophomore Janice Hellesto sprints the curve in the 200-meter dash during this year’s home invitational. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Eight tenths of a second and 5-1/2 inches. That’s all that kept the Philomath High School girls track and field team from qualifying in all 17 events for this week’s Class 4A State Championships in Eugene.

The two events in which the Warriors did not qualify were the 300 hurdles (0.78 of a second behind the runner-up) and shot put (5-1/2 inches away from second place). That’s not mentioned here to pick on anyone who came up short, but to illustrate exactly how dominant Philomath High’s girls track team was at last weekend’s district meet in Sweet Home.

The girls will be going for back-to-back state titles, something the school hasn’t pulled off since 1990-91 (two teams that were just recently honored at the PHS Hall of Fame induction ceremony — that story and photo gallery to be published soon).

La Grande and Scappoose will have something to say about Philomath trying to celebrate a second straight title and sixth in the school’s history. As Coach Joe Fulton said coming into the season, it won’t be easy with a lot of points from last year’s team graduating — namely Sage Kramer’s 25 points in three field events.

The boys didn’t do too bad at regionals either and should be in contention for a trophy. It might be a stretch to say that the Warrior boys could win the title. Marshfield, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Scappoose and Philomath are said to be the teams to watch, according to an OSAAtoday article published Tuesday.

Philomath’s boys qualified in 13 events — not making it in the 100 and three throwing events. The Warriors placed seventh last year.

The meet begins Friday morning at Hayward Field with sophomore Adele Beckstead, freshman Ana Candanoza and seniors Ben Hernandez and Mateo Candanoza competing for medals and points in the 3,000-meter run.

Philomath High’s Micah Matthews reacts to winning last year’s 110-meter high hurdles at the state meet. (File photo by Logan Hannigan-Downs/Philomath News)

In the field events, senior Micah Matthews competes in the first of his four individual events with the pole vault. Sophomore Anneka Steen in the high jump and junior Ahnika Tryon in the javelin will also compete Friday morning. In the early afternoon, senior Seth Arthurs and Steen both compete in the triple jump.

The rest of the Friday schedule features the prelims in the running events — sophomore Janice Hellesto and junior Ellie Morton in the 100; sophomores Natalie Dunn and Warwick Bushnell, and senior Nixon Mooney in the 400; senior Ingrid Hellesto in the 100 hurdles; Matthews in the 110 hurdles; Ana Candanoza and junior Simon King in the 800; Janice Hellesto and Bushnell in the 200; and Matthews in the 300 hurdles.

Finals in field events on Day 2 include sophomore Aspen Russell and junior Madison Schaffer in the pole vault; Matthews in the high jump; freshman CD Nuno, Janice Hellesto and Morton in the long jump; and junior Madison Juhl in the discus.

In addition to those who advance out of prelims, other finals in the running events on Saturday include the 1,500 with Beckstead and Hernandez and both the short and long relays. In the 4-by-100, Philomath has Morton, Dunn and the Hellesto sisters for the girls and Nuno, Mooney, senior Brody Bushnell and Warwick Bushnell for the boys. The 4-by-400 appears to be Steen, sophomore Melea Lattin, Ingrid Hellesto and Dunn for the girls and Nuno, King, Mooney and Warwick Bushnell for the boys.

From what I can see, Philomath’s girls have the talent to score in every one of their events and could have two or three individual champions plus they’ll be in the running in both relays. On the boys’ side, Matthews has a shot in a couple of his events and the 4-by-400 relay has the top time in the state heading in.

The weather forecast shows mostly sunny on Friday with a high of 78 and morning clouds and afternoon sun on Saturday with a high of 70.

I’m looking forward to covering the meet — hopefully Friday and definitely Saturday. If you haven’t been, the new and improved Hayward Field is a sight to see and it’s very, very cool that Oregon’s high school athletes get to compete in this world-class track and field facility.

PHS senior David Griffith pitches against North Marion on May 10. (File photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

State baseball, softball

For those who might be interested, the Oregon West Conference is down to one team in the Class 4A state baseball playoffs. Regular-season champion North Marion, the No. 4 seed, has reached the quarterfinals after winning in the first round over Junction City, 6-4. The Huskies will have a true challenge ahead to get past their next game with a matchup against La Grande, which is seeded fifth and beat Madras, 7-0, in the first round.

Stayton and Newport both advanced to the playoffs out of the play-in games. Stayton lost 7-3 to The Dalles and Newport was blanked by Pendleton, 8-0.

No. 1 Scappoose and No. 2 Gladstone are favored to meet in the championship.

By the way, Astoria, the team that beat Philomath in the play-in game and was seeded 14th, put up a pretty good fight against third-seeded Marist Catholic in a 3-1 first-round loss.

The Oregon West also has one team remaining in the 4A softball tournament. Stayton, seeded No. 3, is in the quarterfinals and will play Friday against Scappoose. The Eagles routed Ontario, 15-5, on the mercy rule in the first round.

Cascade and Sweet Home also made the playoffs but went down to defeat in the opening round. Cascade lost a 9-8 heartbreaker to Scappoose, 9-8, and Sweet Home had the challenge of playing No. 1 Henley and lost 12-1.

If seedings hold true, the Hornets and The Dalles would be favored to meet for the title.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

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.

Leave a comment