Track: Lopez repeats in javelin as Sweet Home’s sole state medalist

Mason Lopez repeated as a medalist in the javelin Saturday, May 21, at the OSAA 4A State Track and Field Championships, held at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.

He was one of six Huskies who competed in the event – triple jumper Aiden Shamek and the 4×100 relay team of  freshman Conner Stevens, juniors Dakota Seiber and Taevon James, and senior Charley Crawford.

Shamek finished 11th and the short relay team was 13th.

“It went well,” Coach Nathan Whitfield said. “It wasn’t quite the outcome we wanted, but they performed right at or set new PRs in all three events.”

Philomath won the girls state title with 87 points, followed by Marist with 69, and Cascade in third with 57.

Marshfield was the boys winners with 57 points, followed by Henley (52) and Siuslaw 45. Philomath was the top OWC finisher, in seventh (37) followed by Newport (26 ½)

Sweet Home tied for 27th with Baker with four points.

Lopez, who was sixth at state last year as a sophomore, had his best throws in the preliminaries, with 166-10 on his first effort and then 167-3 – a lifetime best – on his third, after fouling on his second. His three throws in the final ranged from 155-3 to 162-5.

Colby Evans of Junction City was the winner, with a lifetime best of 189-6 on his last throw.

“Unfortunately for Mason, he PR’d but everybody else also PR’d,” Whitfield said.

Lopez, as did others, said he enjoyed the chance to compete at the newly reconstructed Hayward, which will host the Track and Field World Championships this summer. It was his first time in the stadium, he said.

“Hayward Field is, like, really cool,” Lopez said. “It’s new, it is big. Friday we just walked around and hung out a little bit. Explored.”

He said the underground javelin warm-up facility was “cool” as well.

Though he was nervous in front of the biggest crowd he’d ever experienced in competition, he said it was fun.

“I think the cheering was kind of, like, motivational,” Lopez said. “It was tough but it was really fun. I got a PR by 2 inches so I was happy with my performance.”

Shamek finished 11th with a jump of 39-8 , three inches short of the PR he posted at the district championships the week before and nine inches away from a medal. His first attempt was a foul and he followed up with his big jump of the day. His third attempt was 38-2¾.

Elisha Hayes of Henley won in 44-0¼

“I was almost at my PR,” Shamek said. “I was a little sad I didn’t make it to the finals, but honestly, just the experience of being on Hayward Field was enough to make me happy.

“‘Wow, I’m competing here. That is insane.’ Being on the ground, it’s like a whole ‘nother perspective. Everything’s big and fancy.

“Having all those people watching me kind of gave me an energy boost. The adrenaline just kicked in. I definitely felt like I ran faster (on the approach). I had to keep moving my mark back every jump.

The short relay team of Conner Stevens, Dakota Seiber, Von James and Charley Crawford finished 13th, in 46.04. Elmira won in 44.20. Woodburn, which the Huskies beat to win the district title in the event on May 14, finished 10th in 45.34.

Seiber said the race was “a really good experience, honestly.”

“I’ve never been to a college track or anything. It was crazy.”

He said Stevens gave them a good start and he was able to maintain position on the second leg, but other teams had more speed going around the curve and into the home stretch.

“I think that all our handoffs went really well. I think that made us go faster, going with faster teams.”

Seiber said that, with two juniors and a freshman coming back next year, “I just hope we can have some redemption from this year.”

Whitfield said the team didn’t quite match their PR, but they went in seeded 12th, with Woodburn 13th, and the Bulldogs, whom Sweet Home beat at districts, just ran a big PR to place 10th.

He said the season has gone “really well” with a young team, not just in age but in experience.

“Not having a lot of upperclassmen, a lot of underclassmen, it kind of went as expected,” he said. “We have a lot of building blocks for the future. I’m kind of excited about what we have going forward. The underclassmen have kind of gotten it figured out.”