May 25, 2022 — Two Mapleton seniors qualified to compete at the OSAA 1A State Track and Field State Championships, Opal Burruss and Joe Shepard. Burruss had a prior athletic commitment and did not compete in the meet. That left Shepard as the lone representative of his school at Hayward Field in Eugene, site of this year’s state meet.
With a school enrollment of less than 30, Shepard is used to being part of a small track and field team — but this is the first meet this year he’d be alone.
If Shepard felt pressure, he didn’t show it.
First, on Thursday, May 19, the first morning of the competition, Shepard competed in the high jump.
At district, Shepard had qualified as a wild card after jumping 5'8 to finish tied for second with two other high jumpers.
With a big crowd cheering him on, Shepard tied his personal record 5'8 on his second try. Next, they raised the bar to 5'10. On his third and final try, the Sailor cleared the bar — setting a new PR.
Shepard made three attempts at 6' but could not clear.
The winner of the event was Elijah Wytcherley of Glendale, who cleared 6’6. Mitch Dumford of Triangle Lake also jumped 5’10. Shepard finished sixth.
Later that night, Shepard would return to the region to claim the King of Coast title at the 115th Rhododendron Festival Rhody Court Coronation.
His busy weekend was not over.
The next evening, Friday, May 20, Shepard competed in the triple jump, where hopes were high as he came in as district champion.
Last week, at the district competition in McKenzie, Shepard jumped 41’1, which, at the time, was his personal record. He knew to compete for a state title he’d have to do even better than that.
All season, Shepard has had his eye on the 42-year-old Mapleton triple jump record — T. Bones, 42’4, 1980 — and knew it would probably take a school record-setting jump to win state.
After fouling on his second jump, on the third try Shepard broke his own personal record by six inches when he jumped 41’7. Nathan Imbler had already bested that with a 42’8.25 jump, so he knew to win he’d have to jump even farther if he had a chance to win.
After a 40’7 jump and a foul, it came down to Shepard’s final jump.
Shepard raced down the runway and jumped once, twice, then a third time to launch himself an extreme 43’1, besting his district-winning jump by two feet and setting a new Mapleton High School triple jump record.
Reece Nelson pulled off a 43’7.25 jump to win the event, but Shepard’s record-setting jump was good enough for a second place medal.
Shepard’s two events earned Mapleton 11 points, enough for the one-man team to finish 20th at state. The winner, on the boys side, was Adrian with 74 points. Damascus Christian was the girls 1A champ with 105.5 points.
For full results for the OSAA 1A Track & Field State Championships, go to www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/meet/442459/results/all.