Kragness shines at state track meet

Sweet Home’s Huskies sent two representatives to the state meet Friday and Saturday, Jake Dahlenburg in the pole vault and Matt Kragness in the 100M, 200M and 400M.

It was Dahlenburg’s first trip to Hayward Field as a competitor and Kragness’ second. Both would score with Kragness setting a new state record in the 400M, winning the 200M and finishing third in the 100M.

Day 1

Dahlenburg was first up for the Huskies.

“Jake easily negotiated the opening height of 12’0″ which five others failed to clear,” Coach Billy Snow said. “At 12’6″ Jake ran into trouble. His first attempt was great except he nicked the bar with his legs and knocked it off. His second attempt was not good because he lacked penetration and did not get deep enough into the pit to clear the bar.”

On his third attempt, Dahlenburg had a good plant but rushed his bar clearance and caught the bar on the way down and was out.

“We that at the time that he had finished out of the placings, but at 12’6″ two other vaulters failed to clear their opening height,” Coach Snow said. “Since Jake had cleared 1-00 on his first try, he and two others ended up in a three-way tie for seventh.”

Coach Snow said Dahlenburg was understandably disappointed that he did not vault better, unless hitting his PR.

“My goal for Jake was to have a good time, clear any height, hit his PR and then place, all in that order,” Coach Snow said. “We didn’t get them all but we got enough. Jake had some great accomplishments this year though. He leaves Sweet Home as our No. 4 vaulter in school history at 13-00. Jake never lost to a Capital Conference opponent all year. He was our first district champion in the vault since Vern Malone in 1988. He also kept alive a streak of sorts by placing at state. He is our fifth vaulter to qualify for state and all have placed there.”

On the track, Kragness had as good of a day as Coach Snow could have asked for.

“We expected Matt to make finals in all events and wanted him to expend as little energy and effort as possible,” Coach Snow said. “In his first race, Matt was lined up against the odds-on favorite, Brandon Roosevelt of Wilsonville. Matt had a terrible start and was last out of the blocks. However, Matt was able to power his way to a second place finish of 11.13, behind only Roosevelt’s 10.94. Two other runners had faster times in the second heat and Matt ended up with lane six for the finals on Saturday.”

In the 400M, Coach Snow said he wanted Kragness to win his heat and guarantee him lane four or five in the finals.

Kragness ran an aggressive 200M and came through the halfway mark at around 24 seconds. Down the homestretch, he pulled away from the field and was able to ease off at the end. In the process, Kragness beat John Millson from Mac-Hi who came in with the leading 3A time.

“Matt’s final time of 49.93 beat his old school record time of 50.0 set earlier in the season. Two runners in heat two ran faster than Matt but really worked hard to get there,” Coach Snow said.

In his final race, Coach Snow said he again wanted Kragness to win his heat so he would end up in lane four, five or three.

“Matt ran a hard fast corner and came off the turn in front and then powered through the line,” Coach Snow said. “His final time of 22.26 was wind aided and was the second fastest of the three heat winners, bettered only by Roosevelt’s 21.99 wind aided time. It was also his second school record of the day and earned him lane five for Saturday’s finals.”

Day two…

In a series of races that were a once-in-a-lifetime showing, Kragness had a tremendous day to close out his high school career.

“We were a bit worried about Matt because he was as nervous as we had ever seen him before a race,” Coach Snow said. “As we found out, Matt just had his game face on for the day.”

In his opening race, Kragness had an excellent start and got off the line in good shape, Coach Snow said. Brandon Roosevelt opened up a slight lead by 50M and held that to the end, running 11.04 for the win. Tony Machado of Madras was second at 11.15 and Kragness was third at 11.24, 1/100th of a second ahead of Andy Ford of Marist.

“It wasn’t just one guy but all the guys were off by about a tenth of a second from the previous day for whatever reason,” Coach Snow said. “Perhaps it was the nerves for the finals. For most of them, it was their first race of the day and perhaps they were just shaking out the cobwebs from the previous day. Whatever it was, everyone was off a bit. Still, Matt became Sweet Home’s second male placer ever in the 100M at state. Chris Vassar was second in 1996.”

Just 20 minutes later, Kragness was back at the line to start the 400M finals.

“That was a race we had been pointing towards since last year’s state finals in which Matt was fourth,” Coach Snow said. “We thought Matt stood a great chance of winning if he ran his own race. But as we know all too well, anything can happen at the state meet.”

Kragness got out hard and ran a good opening 200M, Coach Snow said, coming through the 200M mark right at 24 seconds.

He had made up the stagger on all the runners outside him but a sophomore from Reedsport, Nathan Baumgartner, was inside of Kragness had made up the stagger by the start of the second turn.

“That’s where Matt made a great move and as Baumgartner started to go around, Matt went with him and wouldn’t let him pass,” Coach Snow said. “As they came off the corner, Matt was just in front and pulled ahead as they sprinted down the homestretch.”

Kragness cross the line in 49.13, ahead of Derek Strubel of Lakeview, 49.41. Baumgartner faded slightly to third in 49.44 and John Milleson of Mac Hi was fourth in 50.23.

“Matt’s time was another school record and just missed the all-time list for the state 3A level by .01 of a second,” Coach Snow said. “Winning that race really took a lot of pressure off Matt and set him up for his last race.”

Coach Snow said he talked with Kragness briefly after the 400M and he said he had to get his legs back. With his next race looming in just 40 minutes, Coach Snow had Kragness get his legs rubbed down at the massage tent, stay out of the sun and force down as much fluid as possible.

Brandon Roosevelt was again the odds-on favorite in the 200M. He had won the race last year, setting the state meet record in the process and had the fastest qualifying time in the prelims, a wind-aided 21.99.

“Matt got a great start and ran a hard corner,” Coach Snow said. “At the top of the home stretch, Roosevelt was just off Matt’s shoulder and coming down the last 75M, the two were running stride for stride. Matt was able to hold off Roosevelt and came through the line in another school record, closing out an unbelievable state meet for him.”

Coach Snow said the 200M win came out of the blue. “We had focused so hard on the 400M that the 200M was almost an after thought,” Coach Snow said. “His time ranks him No. 3 on the 3A state list. It was an incredible performance and really put an exclamation point on Matt’s high school career.”

“Talking to Matt afterwards, I was curious as to what was going through his mind,” Coach Snow said. “Apparently, Roosevelt had said some things prior to the start of the race that got under Matt’s skin and Matt said to himself that Roosevelt wasn’t going to pass him. Whatever it was, it worked because the 200M win really caught us all by surprise.”

For the meet, Kragness scored 26 points and was the top point earner at the 3A boys level.

“It was a performance unmatched in SHHS history,” Coach Snow said.

For his accomplishments, Kragness was recognized by the OSAA as the top male athlete at the 3A level and was honored on Sunday at the opening of the Prefontaine Meet along with others from various class levels.

“All this came from a kid who couldn’t even qualify for a final event at districts his sophomore year and never won an individual district title until his senior year,” Coach Snow said. “Matt’s accomplishments, like Jake’s, are a testament to hard work and an attitude of not give up.”

In team scoring, Dahlenburg and Kragness ended up with 27 points, a tie for 10th place with Estacada.

Seaside was the 3A winner with 48.5 points, Philomath was second at 46. Due to Kragness’ win in the 200M, Wilsonville lost two points and finished third with 45.