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Callier leaves her mark on 4A meet.

Byline: Ron Bellamy / The Register-Guard

She did all she could do, and afterward, the four gold medals around her neck clinked together as she walked, a victorious melody.

On an afternoon that the Benson girls were denied a piece of track and field history, a Benson girl made her own history.

Sara Callier, the tall senior who won the long jump on Friday, won the triple jump, the 100 meters and 200 on Saturday afternoon, before 7,671 in the OSAA track and field championships at Hayward Field.

That accounted for 40 points of the 53 scored by the Portland school. Not enough to stop Marshfield, with 58.

Not enough to preserve the remarkable Benson winning streak in the Class 4A girls championships, which ends at six straight, one short of matching the seven straight titles by the South Eugene boys team from 1971 through 1977.

But enough to make you think that you'd seen something special.

"She's been that kind of competitor all year," Benson coach Leon McKenzie said. "This was her playground today."

Callier became the first girl to win four individual events in the 4A meet. At the 2A level, Maranda Brownson of Yoncalla won four individual titles for four straight years, from 1998 through 2001; at the 3A level, Ellannee Richardson of Gladstone won four individual titles in 1998.

"I made history," Callier said. "It's overwhelming. I can't believe it. It's crazy."

She was aware of history, too. This would be her last meet running for McKenzie, whom she's known since she was 8 or 9, and McKenzie had hinted that it could be his last state meet, too, because ongoing heart problems at age 52 may force him away from the job after leading Benson to four state boys titles and seven girls titles in 21 years.

"He's kind of like my second dad," she said. "He's always been there for me. I'm like a daughter to him, and any time I can help him out, I want to show him I'm grateful for whatever he's done for me. "

On top of that, Callier figured that McKenzie could use some good news Saturday. The Benson boys 4x400 relay team had been disqualified after Friday's prelims because of a uniform violation - three of the runners wore body suits, one didn't - and then the boys 4x100 was DQ'd for running out of its lane Saturday.

McKenzie was steamed about the former.

"I had a real hard time with it," he said. "It wasn't called by the meet referee. It was three other schools that went down and lobbied for us to be disqualified, and I just think that's shabby for adults at another school to want their team to do well by disqualifying us on a rule that was nebulous and questionable at best.

"It angers me. I'm trying to stay positive. I would never do that to a coach. You want to win something, win it on the track, not on some technicality."

McKenzie said the "dirty pool" makes him want to come back for another year, while the end of the girls streak "motivates me now" to start another.

"We knew that all good things at some point come to an end, but the kids competed well," he said. "Sara competed like a Big Dog. We tried, but we would have had to be perfect because Marshfield performed greatly. I give them great respect."

And to Callier, too, who came into the meet knowing that for Benson to win she'd have to run the table. In past years, she'd been only too happy to play a lesser role on the Benson team, in the shadow of athletes like Deborah Jones and Brandi Probasco-Canda.

"When they left last year, it was like `Kids, our mom has just left us at the mall by ourselves, what do we do now?' ' Callier said.

What she did was become a team leader, and get herself a full-ride scholarship to compete at Kansas State; Oregon, where her cousin Michael was a linebacker, wanted to wait for her SAT score, she said, and she wanted to sign early.

At K-State, she'll focus on the triple jump, the event in which she set a state record last weekend, 40 feet, 7 1/4 inches.

Coming to Hayward Field, Callier said, she thought "it's time to get off the back burner and let everybody know that Sara was here. To get out and show my stuff and what I have and what I can accomplish."

Saturday, she won the triple jump in 38-4 3/4 ; she had the best five jumps in the field. She followed that by winning the 100 in 12.05 seconds, surprising herself, because it's not her favorite event. Then she defended her only previous state title, winning the 200 in 24.70.

"In the blocks before all my races, I said `This is for 'Kenzie, do this for 'Kenzie,' ' she said. "I hope I made him proud."

She did, and did herself proud, too.


Benson's Sara Callier (right) celebrates after successfully defending her state championship in the 200 meters Saturday at Hayward Field.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:May 22, 2005
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