The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

By Scott Swanson
Of The New Era 

Bethany Gingerich leads Huskies at state with three medals


May 24, 2016

GIRLS 4X100 RELAY TEAM members, from left, Bethany Gingerich, Josie Knight, Natasha Rasmussen and Sarah Dunkley, are all smiles after learning they’ve placed in the state championships.

Sweet Home’s track and field teams had their ups and downs Friday and Saturday, May 21-22, at the state track and field championships at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

The girls finished in a three-way tie for 15th, with 11 points – nearly all of those coming from Bethany Gingerich, who placed fourth in the 400, eighth in the 800 and anchored the 4x100 relay team to sixth place. Dana Hiett added more points with a seventh-place finish in the triple jump.

“We had a little bit more ups than downs,” Coach Allyson Bodenbach said.

Astoria ran away with the girls title – literally, with big scorers in the short sprints and the throws, to total 109.5 points, ahead of Siuslaw (72), Marshfield (63.5) and Molalla (49). The Fishermen’s Darian Hageman swept the long, high and triple jumps. Sisters was the Sky-Em’s top team, ninth with 28 points.

The Husky boys had a particularly disappointing day on Friday, with no athletes reaching the finals in their events, which would have put them in scoring position.

Their four team points, from Garrison Whitfield’s fifth-place finish in the javelin on Saturday, left them 28th in the team race, won by Henley with 83.5, ahead of Newport (59.5), Tillamook (47) and North Bend (44.5). The Sky-Em’s Cottage Grove was fifth with 36 and Junction City was seventh (29).

Whitfield, a senior in his first appearance at state, took a few throws to get comfortable. He nailed a 171-2 effort on his third attempt, to make the finals and then threw 178-1, 20 inches short of his personal best, on his last effort.

“It was a really good experience,” he said afterward. “I really enjoyed it.”

He said it took him a while to get settled down in the big-meet atmosphere, with multiple events occurring simultaneously and literally yards away from each other, a large crowd, and near-constant announcements over the PA system.

“There was a lot of stuff going on. It was pretty chaotic, but once I got my head clear, on my last throws, I threw far.”

Friday was a disappointing day for Sweet Home’s boys.

“We had a little rough start at the beginning,” Bodenbach said.

Senior TJ Baham and junior Dillon Stutzman, both of whom had cleared 12-8 at the district meet to go 1-2 in the pole vault, did not clear the 12-6 opening height and failed to score. That wasn’t necessarily unexpected, Bodenbach said, since the two would have basically had to jump their PR’s coming out of the gate to get into the competition.

“About the best we thought we could hope for was that they would clear the opening height,” she said. “But it was a good experience for them.”

Junior Trey Reed, who came into state with the fifth-best 400 time in the field from districts, fell back midway through his preliminary race and couldn’t make up the gap, and wound up 12th in what his slowest time since the second week of the season.

“Obviously, it was disappointing,” Bodenbach said. “My heart broke a little bit for him. He hasn’t had that opportunity yet to get to finals. Everything was there for him to succeed, but he was not mentally there yet – not that he doesn’t want it. It was just unfortunate.

“Hopefully, next year we can get him in the right place, get him feeling better mentally. It had nothing to do with training.”

Senior Egan Shamek, seeded fourth, scratched his first two long jumps and then managed just 19-10½ on his third effort in the prelims, almost two feet shorter than what he’d jumped in the district meet. That left him 12th, out of the final. The top four competitors finished bunched within an inch of winner Dylan Castle of Henley, who jumped 21-2½.

Saturday started off on a more positive note as the girls 4x100 relay team of Gingerich, Josie Knight, Sara Dunkley and Natasha Rasmussen, which had struggled with handoffs all year, put together a good sequence with the baton and finished sixth out of 16 teams with a 51.16. That was a big improvement over the 51.80 they ran at district.

Knight, a senior, who was jumping back and forth from the shot put competition, said the relay went “really well.”

“I was pretty confident,” she said. “Every year when we run here, our relay runs better at state. It’s an awesome atmosphere to run in.”

Gingerich, a sophomore who ran the anchor leg, said she “had some doubts” about the Huskies’ chances, “but I thought that if we had good handoffs, we did have speed.”

Then she saw Rasmussen going by people in the third leg and

“she just handed it off to me and I went from there,” Gingerich said.

Bodenbach was pleased with the way things came together for them.

“When you put four girls together who are not all state qualifiers and they work really well together like that, I think that shows a lot about those girls – the type of character and team they’ve built together.

“My kids know you can’t get anywhere by yourself. You have to do it as a team.”

That relay success set the table for Gingerich to finish the day with two more, individual, medals – the first a fourth place in the 400 in a personal-best 59.69, her second straight day of breaking a minute.

“Her goal was to break one minute and she did that twice,” Bodenbach noted. “You can’t walk away and be unhappy with that.”

Then, visibly fatigued, Gingerich pulled out eighth place in the 200 – in 26.67, three-tenths of a second off her personal best set the week before in the district prelims, but still fast.

She had spent much of the week volunteering at the Foster Outdoor Camp (see page 10), supervising fifth- and sixth-graders, and was feeling it on the weekend.

“I’m fatigued,” she said after collecting her third medal of the day. “I’m extremely tired, but my last weekend of track finished up very well.”

In the 400, Gingerich, who was seeded sixth overall and third in her prelim on Friday, won that race in 59.74, leading nearly the whole way. On Saturday she trailed only North Valley freshman Baylee Touey, who also won the 200 and was second in the 100, and Scappoose senior Lucy Davidson coming down the home stretch, before getting passed just before the finish line by Valley Catholic’s Julia Clark.

Those were big improvement over her 11th-place finish (in 1:03.10) as a freshman at state, and her 14th-place finish in the 200 (27.99).

Bodenbach said fatigue is the name of the game at this stage of the season.

“Everybody’s feeling beat down at this point,” she said. “She held her composure really well. She gave herself an opportunity to win and compete. She did the best she could with what she had.

Knight had trouble settling down in the shot, finishing 13th with a best of 32-9¼ – on her third throw, about 18 inches short of her district best and nearly five feet short of her season’s best of 37-4.

“It wasn’t good,” she said. “It was the same time as the relay. I checked into the shot, then did my warmups, then checked into the relay, then threw once, then ran the relay, then went to get the award, then I had two more throws. It was really hard.”

In the girls triple jump on Saturday, Hiett, a junior, placed seventh with a leap of 33-6½, which came on her final attempt, and was three-quarters of an inch off her personal best.

“Like I was at districts, I was a little bit disappointed with my finish,” Hiett said. “I was hoping for something better.”

She scratched on her first attempt and said she got some encouragement from her brother Jakob in the stands, a multiple state placewinner in the distances for Sweet Home.

“My brother came out and started yelling at me to warm up,” she said. “That helped me.”

The state meet was the eighth time Hiett had competed in the event, all this year, and the junior is still figuring it out.

GARRISON WHITFIELD throws the javelin.

“A lot of it is just a toss-up – good jumps and bad jumps. I need to learn not to panic when things don’t go well. It was awesome to come out here and compete.”

Saturday ended up being a good day for the Huskies, Bodenbach said.

“All around, it was a really great day,” she said. “You’re going to have disappointments at the state meet. It’s unfortunate that it has to happen, but it is what it is.

“But a lot of those kids were able to walk out with hardware.”


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