Huskies Double Medals Haul at State Track Championships

Sweet Home finished with four medalists at the 4A State Track and Field Championships, held Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, at Hayward Field at the University in Oregon at Eugene.

That medals haul was twice the success the Huskies had last year, Head Coach Nathan Whitfield noted.

“Last year we came back with two events medaling,” Whitfield said. “This year we came back with four and we came close in a lot of the others. All of them were close to placing, except our vertical jumps. The level of  competition was tough this year.”

Medalists for Sweet Home were senior Colin Nicholson in the Triple Jump, junior Dylan Sharp in the Shot Put, senior Kyle Sieminski in the 300 Hurdles, and the 4×400 team of Sieminski, juniors Chase Cameron and Kasey Kast, and sophomore Dylan Davis.

Sharp got things rolling Friday in the shot by nearly matching his 2-foot PR from the district championships the week before, throwing 46-9, which was good for seventh place.

“He came in seeded No. 9,” Whitfield said. “Especially after a big PR the week before, sometimes it’s hard to replicate that. He handled the competition. He did great.

Sharp said he enjoyed the experience.

“A lot of people were saying that the size of the stadium could get to you, but I didn’t think it was too bad,” he said. “I saw the Shot Put ring and it was like any other Shot Put ring I’ve been in and I threw like I always have.

“It was a sunny day and I was feeling good and I feel like I warmed up pretty all right, and I was able to throw a couple inches under the PR I set (at districts). I was a little disappointed I got seventh – I think I could have gone higher, but I was happy I got on the podium.

“I think it’s been quite a while since somebody got on the podium (from Sweet Home’s boys in the shot). It was a fun experience. It was nice to able to go here. I’m excited to come back next year and hopefully do a little bit better. “

In the Triple Jump Friday, Nicholson was seeded 14th in a field of 15 competitors, but finished seventh with a best jump of 41-7¼, nearly a foot and a half farther than the PR he’d set the week before at the Oregon West district meet.

“I hadn’t practiced the triple much,” Nicholson said. “(The medal) was something I wasn’t expecting.

“It being my first year and all, I didn’t expect to make it there and to make it in two events and be district champion (in the High Jump) was pretty cool. I had never been to Hayward before.”

Whitfield said that it was a little bit of a surprise to see Nicholson make the podium.
“He had a pretty good series, a 1-foot PR. We knew he’d do well but didn’t necessarily expect him to place. That was awesome for him.”

In the 300 Hurdles, Sieminski ran the race for the fourth time ever in the prelims on Friday to qualify with a fourth-place finish overall in a roughly 2½-second PR of 40.95, then came back Saturday in the final to finish fifth in 41.20.

“That was kind of a surprise, but not a surprise with him doing it,” Whitfield said, noting the senior’s lack of experience in the event, in which he’d he’d given the race a first-time shot in the Senior Day home meet on April 30 and ran a head-turning time of 44.71.  “After having some more time to focus on it, we figured it would be a PR, but didn’t know how big. He went big.”

The 4×400 Relay Team finished things off Saturday with seventh place, running a second and a half faster than their district finish the week before to establish a new season’s best of 3:33.98.

That put them eighth among the 13 teams, but Baker, which was the first team to finish, was disqualified for, reportedly, spiking the baton at the finish line, which moved the Huskies up to seventh.

In the track preliminaries Friday, Kast just missed the finals in the 800, despite running a nearly 2-second PR to finish ninth in 2:02.50. The top eight make the final in distances under 1500 at state.

“Kasey’s 800 was as good as we could hope for,” said Assistant Coach Dave Martin. “He had a lifetime PR and he ran his last three 200s in almost exactly the same time. He competed well. He looked good. I wish he would have gotten into the finals, but other than that it was a really good day.”

Sieminski was 12th in the 400 prelims on Friday, finishing in 52.67 in a race won by Marshfield’s Bodey Lutes, who ran 48.71 and then finished on Saturday with a state-record 47.83, which is the fastest time run in the state at any level in that distance this year.

“He did good there,” Whitfield said of Sieminski. “He was right on his PR, just a little bit over. He ran a great race, but especially when they’re running as fast as the champion, the competition was really tough.”

In the 4×100 Relay on Saturday, Cameron, junior Tristan Spencer, Davis and Sieminski came up short of the medals stand, finishing 10th in 45.33, about half a second shy of the podium.

The vertical jumps on Saturday morning proved to be a obstacle for not only Sweet Home’s two qualifiers, but about half of the rest of the athletes in those two events as well.

In the girls Pole Vault, sophomore Delainie Pratt was unable to clear the opening height of 7-11¼, which was almost a foot higher than her PR. But she wasn’t the only one. There were only seven medalists because six other competitors also failed to clear the opening bar.

“We had some complications getting Delainie checked in, which may have added to her stress level going in.” said Martin, who coached Pratt in the event along with fellow assistant Spencer Hart. “Everything’s new here. She took three good vaults. She had better attempts than at least half the people (who also did not clear the bar). So she looked like a better vaulter.”

The experience, he said, was invaluable for the sophomore.

“Experience-wise, this was big-time,” Martin said. “ There’s nowhere to go but up. She’s gotta now feel ‘I belong here, I’m not as bad as I might have thought because I didn’t clear a height. There were other girls who didn’t. I got to get into this facility.’

“I think there’s a lot of positives that come from this. She’s ready to do some more vaulting in the summer and to keep working on her skills. We’re excited where she’s gonna end up.”

Across the field, Nicholson had a similar challenge in the boys High Jump, failing to clear the opening height of 5-11¼, He was one of seven competitors (of 15) who did not get over that bar.

“I could not get warmed up,” Nicholson said. “It’s something I’d jumped previously multiple times, but I should have warmed up better. I was surprised that a lot of guys couldn’t make it over that opening height.”

“The two vertical jumps were tough with the opening heights set by the OSAA,” Whitfield said. “The opening height in the girls Pole Vault was 2 inches below our school’s record.  I don’t remember it being this high before. Usually, the opening height is high, but doable.”

“I was pretty proud to have almost every single one of them, except the vertical jumps, to PR. That was awesome. I was really happy to get those guys on the podium.

“One thing that’s real exciting is that we only had two seniors competing in state this year. The rest of those guys will be back, and although I can’t say we can replace those seniors, we have some who will fill in. Hopefully , we will not lose too many steps there.”

Team-wise, the Huskies finished 21st in a filed of 17 teams with 10 points. Crook County won the boys title with 96 points, followed by Marshfield (46), Pendleton (45) and La Grande (42). Philomath was seventh with 30 points, and Newport was 10th with 27. Cascade finished 26th with 5.

On the girls side, Philomath was the top finisher with 74 points, followed by Cascade and North Bend, tied for second with 51 points, Scappoose  fourth with 43, and Molalla, La Grande and Mazama, tied for fifth with 41.

Next up for Sweet Home is its awards banquet, at 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 24.