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Gray continues learning curve with Track City discus title.

Byline: Curtis Anderson The Register-Guard

Javan Gray has only been throwing the discus for two years, but that hasn't stopped the 12-year-old seventh-grader at Thurston Middle School from dominating the competition this season.

Gray, who competes for the Emerald Valley Track Club, remained unbeaten in the Midget Boys (11-12) age division on Friday with a convincing victory at the 28th annual Track City International Classic at Hayward Field.

The 5-foot-8, 130-pound Gray bettered his PR on three occasions as he captured the title with a throw of 120 feet, 11 inches. The next-best effort came from Brandon Hill of Oakland's 3M Track Club at 95-2.

`I felt really good today,' said Gray, one of four Emerald Valley athletes who will travel to Indianapolis later this month for the National Junior Olympic Championships. `My best event is the discus, but I also do the shot put and javelin. It took me a while to get that spin down. Sometimes I would lose my balance.'

Hill would get a measure of revenge later in the meet, winning the Midget Boys javelin with a toss of 129-1. Gray settled for fifth at 109-1.

There were two other local winners Friday.

In the Youth Boys (13-14) high jump, James LaCoste, of the Track City Track Club, finished in a tie with Justin Graff, of the Spokane Mercury,

at 5-8, but LaCoste earned the victory based on fewer misses.

The foursome of Nora Wilson, Rachel Parker, Calli Dowdy and Colleen Walsh hit the tape in a time of 11 minutes, 24.91 seconds to capture first place in the Midget Girls (11-12) 4x800 relay.

One of the day's most competitive events was the Young Women's (17-18) shot put.

Jaleesa Jeffery, of 3M Track Club, edged Jaclyn Espinoza, a two-time Class 2A state champion from Regis High School in Stayton, by three inches with a winning mark of 41-6.

Jeffery, who struggled a bit in the first round, took the lead with a throw of 41-5 on her fourth attempt. Espinoza battled back with her best mark of the competition at 41-3, but that was as close as she would get.

`Every time I come to Oregon I compete against her,' said Jeffery, who will be a senior at James Logan High School in Oakland, Calif. `The first round didn't go as well as I hoped, but I made it into the finals and did a lot better.'

Some of the best marks were posted in the 400 hurdles.

Kevin Pabst won the Young Men's (17-18) title with a time of 54.73, well ahead of runner-up Justin Hardersen, who competed unattached. Avery White, of Tracey Flyers, captured the Intermediate Boys (15-16) crown at 58.13.

Alyssa Rife, of Beaverton Track Club, won the Intermediate Girls (15-16) title with a 1:07.56 clocking, and Falesha Ankton, of V-Town Track Club, took first in the Young Women's (17-18) event at 1:05.01.

The three-day meet, which includes hundreds of athletes from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, Nevada and Canada, continues at 8 a.m. today with the finals of the 3,000 for both Midget Boys and Girls.

Those races will be followed by the opening ceremonies at 10:15 a.m. featuring the traditional Parade of Athletes.

CAPTION(S):

Javan Gray of Thurston Middle School won the Midget Boys discus competition at the Track City International Classic on Friday.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Thurston Middle School student is one of three local winners on the opening day of the Track City International Classic
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 16, 2005
Words:564
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