Our Thoughts…1A Boys Track

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John L. Braese

EOS takes the effort to look ahead in 1A track and field action.

There was muffled applause from across the state as Adrian’s Jace Martin, Jesse Walker, Carter Bayes and Robert Garza walked across the stage for graduation. State track teams took relief in knowing Martin would be running at the track at Cadet Field House in Colorado Springs, not Hayward Field next year. Graduation took a big swing at the state champion Antelope boys looking towards next season. Incoming sophomores Silvestre Rico and Chase Franklin will be the “old men” on the squad.

Before you write off the Lopes to the history books forever, it was not that many years ago the Shira brothers graduated and skeptics believed the Antelopes would never recover (yes, the same Shira that is back as a teacher and now a state championship coach in Adrian). The name may not be Martin or Shira, but somewhere in Adrian is two brothers right now playing t-ball or gearing up in tiny pads ready to be the next state champions.

The state meet ended with Imbler only 10 points behind the champion Adrian team. If there is an heir apparent, the Panthers are the squad. Losing no seniors, Imbler is back with a ton of experience including the current 110-meter hurdle champion Trevor Treat and this year’s second place state teams in both the 4-by-100 and 4-by-400 relays. 2024 could well be the year the Panthers return home as state champions.

Continuing to show the strength of eastern Oregon, Union finished third at the state meet. Although not to the extent of Adrian, graduation hurts the Bobcats’ chances next season. Bo Ledbetter is off to run track at Eastern Oregon University and Caleb Later will also not return. Returning athletes in the field events will help Union.

After finishing just outside the top five in sixth, Joseph will return 3000-meter state champion Jett Leavitt back as a junior. He will be joined in the distance events by Jonah Lyman and Jenning Schiefelbein. The one area lacking is sprint personnel. State champion Kale Ferguson will be gone to graduation so the Eagles will need someone to step up in the field events.

Cove will return Eli Williams back to distance events with a shot at an individual state title in possibly two races. After placing eighth at the recent state meet, current sophomore Nathaniel O’Reilly needs a top five finish in the 3000 meters and to crack the top 10 in the pole vault. Senior Taylor Fox is lost to graduation.

Trout Lake will return incoming junior Sawyer Dean back in the pole vault and presently, no one is within two feet of taking away his present state championship. The Mustangs lose graduate Landon Heberling to back up Dean along with the high jump and 100 meters. After finishing ninth in the team standings, Trout Lake would be helped if Ezra Sharp, Dean and Gael Fuentes could step up in the individual sprint events for a few points.

Graduation hurts Prairie City after placing 12th in the team scores. Senior Eli Wright will be gone after placing top six in four events at state and along with Cole Teel, the 4-by-100 relay team is also hurt. Panthers need some younger team members to step up.

Like many of the teams above, graduation hurts Pine Eagle. Cole Martin is gone as is state champion Cooper Gover in the 800. Gideon Tubbs will return as a senior in the 3000 looking for a top five and Gabriel Brown and Trace Gover will be back as juniors.

Condon goes into next season better than many teams. Grady Greenwood is back as the state champion in the 1500 meters and will again battle Joseph’s Leavitt in the 3000 after placing second this year. Picking up a few points in a field event or sprint race would boost Condon from this year’s 15th place showing.

One spot behind Condon was Crane and like a broken record, saying goodbyes to seniors hurt. Kelton Dunten and Taylor Krueger will be gone. Incoming junior Tyson Ballard is a top five finisher in the high jump and teammate Brady Otley should jump into the top five in the pole vault. Mustangs need a distance runner.

Mitchell-Spray picked up a top 20 finish but with Carter Boise and Nate Clark graduating, repeating the finish may be difficult.

Elgin could rise from this year’s 23rd showing as seniors are few and returnees will have state experience. Joe Lathrop, a top five in javelin, graduates but incoming seniors Ty McLaughlin and Parker Caldwell were a part of a top five 4-by-100 relay team. To break the top 20 in team scores, find one or two in the field events and McLaughlin and Caldwell need to shine in the individual sprint events.

Sherman had decent numbers this year, pushing to a 26th place finish in the team scores. Luke Fritts returns next season as a top 10 discus thrower and Henry Poirier is back as a top 10 shot put competitor. Due to graduation, Sherman will need to rebuild two relay teams, both top eight.

Kellen Gronquist, the lone representative for Arlington, tied with Sherman for 26th. Gronquist makes the graduation walk.

Klickitat finished the state meet in 31st thanks to Austin Fink. Finishing third in the shot put, Fink should compete for a state title next year and make improvements in the discus event where he finished just outside the top 10.

Field events carried South Wasco County to a 36th placement at the state meet and the team should perform higher next year. Incoming senior Joey Holloway, currently top five in discus, should compete for an individual title and a current top 10 in javelin should also rise. One track athlete to go with the field events would help the team standings.

This state meet marked a first for Nixyaawii competing on their own (thank you Stanger family for clarifying this for EOS). Previously in a co-op with Pilot Rock, the Golden Eagles will need a few years to build a top 10 squad on their own.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS YEAR – Unlike the girls’ side, track and field athletes wearing caps and gowns instead of jerseys will have a large impact next season as teams have lost top 10 finishers to graduation. Eastern Oregon finished this season with a team title and placed three of the top five and six of the top ten teams.

Imbler appears experienced and ready to make a run. Finishes for other teams depends on the speed coaches can bring along younger members with little or no state experience. Unlike girls who tend to make an immediate mark on a school’s team showing, boys tend to need a few years before the discussion begins of an individual state title.

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