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Rowe's PR bests loaded field.

Byline: Chris Hansen The Register-Guard

Between sucking on a bloody finger and encouraging the sparse crowd in the west grandstand to clap, South Eugene's Brian Rowe nonchalantly leaped his way to the surprise victory of the afternoon on Thursday.

The Axemen senior, headed to UCLA next fall on a soccer scholarship, cleared 6 feet, 6 inches to win the high jump during the opening day of the Southwest Conference track and field meet at Hayward Field.

It was a three-inch personal record for Rowe and qualified him for the Class 6A state meet next week at Hayward.

"I'm just pretty much trying to go out there and have fun," said Rowe, an all-state goalkeeper in soccer who cut the middle finger on his right hand goofing around with teammates before the meet started.

Rowe was an unlikely winner in a field that included Sheldon's Barry Peiskee, Thursday's top seed at 6-6, and North Medford's Josh Pectol and Sheldon's DJ Wright, who had both cleared 6-4 this season.

But Peiskee and Wright could only clear 5-10 on Thursday and Pectol finished at 6-2. Rowe's teammate Ike Patton cleared 6-4 to finish second and qualify for state.

Rowe, who cleared 6-6 on his final attempt at that height, failed on three tries to get over 6-8. It's Rowe's first season in the high jump. He was the 2006 Midwestern League champion in the javelin and finished third in that event on Thursday.

"I definitely wasn't expecting (to clear 6-6) but I just went with it and got over," Rowe said. "I've been jumping 6-2, 6-3 all year and my coach keeps telling me I've got more than that."

South, which will head into Saturday's finals with 55 points - just two points behind first-place North Medford and 23 ahead of third-place Sheldon - also had a strong showing in the only final of the day on the track.

Led by Ryan Graebner, the Axemen claimed three of the top four spots in the 3,000 meters. Graebner won it all with a time of 9 minutes, 2.21 seconds, just ahead of South Medford's Joey Nelson, who was second in 9:02.72.

South's Zach Schneider-Lynch was third in 9:08.27, and Gino Gaddini was fourth in 9:23.33.

"Ryan ran brilliantly and gutty," South coach Jeff Hess said.

"There's a kid with absolutely no footspeed at all and his last lap today he ran 64 (seconds), which was his PR in the 400 a month ago. It was amazing to see him be able to run away from somebody at the end."

Wright, a Sheldon sophomore, was the winner in the long jump at 21-8 1/2 , an inch better than teammate Zack Todd (21-7 1/2 ), who finished second.

But the meet ended on a sour note for Wright, as he had to pull out of the high jump and high hurdles after aggravating a right hip flexor getting over the first hurdle in his preliminary race.

"It started hurting in the high jump," Wright said. "It feels good to win the long jump, but I wish I could be doing the hurdles on Saturday."

In the girls meet, Sheldon senior Casey Masterson, the 2006 MWL champ in the 800 and 1,500, won the 3,000 in 10:16.64.

South Medford's Piper Delaney was second in 10:18.20.

"It felt harder than what I was expecting," Masterson said. "But not too bad."

Sheldon junior Corinne McWilliams finished tied with North Medford's Ashley Chambers at 16-6 in the long jump. But Chambers was awarded the title by virtue of a better second-place mark. Both advanced to state.

The Irish are sitting in third place with 38 points behind North Medford (58 points) and Roseburg (42 1/2 ).

Nate Dillow cleared 13 feet, 5 inches to win the pole vault and Dustin Waldron captured the discus with a throw of 135-2 to lead the Marist boys to the first-day lead at the Sky-Em League district championships at La Pine.

Marist had 63 points on Thursday, Cottage Grove was second with 40 and Sisters was third with 29.

Nelson Zaludek of Elmira (9:31.7 in the 3,000), Bryant Sentman of Cottage Grove (6-1 in the high jump) and Cory McCaffrey of Sisters (21-10 in the long jump) were other first-day boys winners.

In the girls meet, Cottage Grove's Kallie Nowak won the shot put with a mark of 31-9 1/2 , winning a tie-breaker with second-place-finisher Jessica Jordt of La Pine based on a better second throw.

Jordan Brunetti won the javelin with a throw of 121-2 for the Lions, who took the early lead with 51 points.

Sisters was second with 44 points and Marist was third with 40.

Meghan Whalen (11:29.6 in the 3,000) and Kate Wilkins (16-7 3/4 in the long jump) of Marist and Cammy Jacobson of Sisters (9-1 in the pole vault) were the other first-day girls winners.

HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT MEETS

Midwestern League: Final day is today at Springfield High's Silke Field.

Southwest Conference: Final day is Saturday at Hayward Field.
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Title Annotation:Sports; The South Eugene senior clears 6-6 to win the SWC high jump title
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 11, 2007
Words:853
Previous Article:HAMMER TIME.
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