May 17, 2022 — The Viking track team competed at the Sky-Em League District Championships on May 13 and 14. Though Siuslaw lost the boys district title to Cottage Grove by a mere two points, the kids from Florence found solace in the fact 13 of them would advance to the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) 4A Track & Field State Championships.
Making it all the more exciting for those who qualified, this year the event returns to its proper home, historic Hayward Field in Eugene. Last year, Siuslaw hosted the 4A state championships, as Hayward Field was in the midst of major renovations.
This year’s Sky-Em District was hosted by Junction City High School. Weather often did not cooperate.
For the Vikings, two juniors and a senior qualified to compete in three events each next weekend at state: juniors Sam Ulrich and Hunter Petterson and senior Rylee Colton.
Ulrich had a great district meet. He won the 800 with a personal record time of 1:58.68. He finished second and PR’d in the 3000 with a time of 9:01.99. He also qualified as a member of the Siuslaw’s second -place 4x400 relay team.
“Sam isn’t really a 3000 guy,” said Chris Johnson, Siuslaw head coach. “He hasn’t run the 3000 a lot but he’s good at it. He has the range to kind of do anything. It was kind of risky to take him out of the 1500, seeing as that we were pretty sure he could win. [Note: athletes can only compete in two of the three distance races. Ulrich raced the 800 and 3000.] Sam ran great. The seventh best 800 in school history, so that’s cool.”
Petterson won the 200 (23.30), finished third and PR’d in the 400 (51.74a) and also qualified as part of the 4x400 relay.
“Hunter ran great for being a little banged up,” said Johnson. “He won the 200 and had to make a comeback to do it. He also got in on the 400 which is cool.”
Colton, in her final year running for Siuslaw, qualified in the 1500, 3000 and as a member of the 4x400 relay. Colton, reigning Sky-Em League cross country champ, kept up her district distance domination by winning the 3000. She won with a personal record time of 10:44.17a. She also finished third in the 1500 with a personal record time of 4:56.67a.
“Rylee is the heart and soul of our team,” said Johnson. “She ran a great 3000 to win and she battled and made a comeback to finish third in the 1500 to earn a wildcard spot.”
Senior Chad Hughes qualified for two events at Hayward. He finished second in the 1500 (4:16.44a) and third in the 3000 (9:03.7).
Junior Jonathon Rose had an amazing day in the throwing pits and was named Sky-Em League Thrower of the Year. Rose won the shot put (42’7.25) and the discus (138’) and will represent Siuslaw in both at state.
Rose was dealing with illness, making his performance all the more remarkable.
“Very proud of Jonathan, who was up all night with a sinus infection and almost didn’t make it to his district championship,” said his father, John Sr.
“Rose was great,” he said.
After starting the year with the Florence Street Vault in March, pole vaulting has been big for Siuslaw all season. Appropriately, the Vikings will send two vaulters to state.
Senior Camp Lacouture finished third in the event with a top vault of 13’10. Junior Kyle Hughes was tied for fourth with a 13’4 vault. Both will compete at Hayward, as the qualifying mark is 13’4.
Junior Noel Hernandez finished third in the 300 hurdles with a personal best time of 42.80a and earned a wildcard spot at state. According to Johnson, Hernandez is new to the hurdling game.
“Noel Hernandez starting hurdling three weeks ago,” said Johnson. “Hurdling is no fun. It’s a lot of technical work. And the hurdles are high. It’s just a tough event. I have to give the guy credit. When we finally convinced him to try hurdling, he just got better and better. For him to take third at district; yeah, that’s good.”
Other athletes who qualified for a trip to Hayward next weekend are freshman Wesley Nicholls and junior Jacob Blankenship, who will join Petterson and Ulrich in the 4x400. On the girls side, also in the 4x400, freshmen Maya Wells and Macali Lade will team up with sophomore Corduroy Holbrook and Colton to run the event at state.
The team standings race was a heartbreaker on the boys side for Siuslaw. Cottage Grove won the event with 146 points, edging the Vikings (144) by just two points.
“It’s frustrating we lost on the boys side,” conceded Johnson. “The silver lining is the boys who made the state meet, though. Obviously, we’re trying to win a championship every time, but we just had a few glitches here and there, which is totally typical in track and field. Cottage Grove was hitting on all cylinders, and they just outfoxed us. That’s fine. We’ll just come back next week and try again.”
The Viking girls scored 49 points to finish sixth. Marist of Eugene won the girls race with 175 points.
Next up for the Viks is the OSAA 4A Track & Field State Championships in Eugene on May 20 and 21.
“We’re going to get to compete at the greatest track and field facility in the world, which is just 60 miles from our back door,” said Johnson. “I’m just looking forward to seeing these guys compete in that environment. I feel confident we’re going to do well.”
The return of the state track and field championships to Hayward Field this year is a big deal and Johnson hopes the community takes the chance to take a break from the Rhody Days festivities to come watch his team in Eugene.
“I don’t know how many people really understand how special Hayward Field is,” said Johnson. “The old Hayward Field, which was there for the last 80 or 100 years, was pretty special. It’s a whole different level now. Every single person that lives in Oregon should go there once. If there’s people in Florence who have never been to a track meet before, they should go over and watch because visiting Hayward Field is like visiting the Carnegie Hall of track and field. We’re pumped.”
Tickets for the OSAA 4A Track & Field State Championships can be purchased here www.osaa.org/tickets. For results, go to www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/442174.