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Sheldon's district a super sweep.

Byline: Jeff Smith The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - The suspense ended early.

Before a race had even been run on the track, Sheldon had secured first-place finishes in the high jump and javelin.

Then came the 4x100 relay, which the Irish won in thrilling fashion to open the running events and send a buzz through the Silke Field crowd.

By the time the day was over, members of the Sheldon girls track and field team were posing for pictures with the championship trophy after winning the Midwestern League district meet Friday with 168 points.

Defending champion South Eugene was second with 144 1/2 , followed by Marshfield (100 1/2 ) and Thurston (76).

Sheldon coach Roger Herbert believed it to be the Irish's first girls district title since 1968, which was a year before Herbert's first season on the job.

"It's been a long time for our girls," said Herbert, in his 34th year with Sheldon.

"We've had a lot of good teams but never won it. We were pretty optimistic about this meet. We knew we were pretty well-balanced."

Sheldon's depth was on display throughout the sun-baked afternoon as the Irish scored in every event and qualified nine individuals plus a relay team to the Class 4A state meet at Hayward Field on May 30-31.

The Irish entered the day holding a one-point edge over South Eugene and Marshfield. That margin was soon extended with victories from Niki Dentel in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and Ashley Bevens in the javelin (128-6).

"That was really important to help my team get off to a good start," said Dentel, whose PR jump put her ahead of South Eugene's Chelsey Augustyniak (5-0). "When you do well, you want other people on the team to do well, too."

The one person who everybody expected to do well didn't disappoint.

Sheldon senior Paige Ford won district titles in the 100-meter dash (12.36) and 100 hurdles (15.51), took second in the 200 (26.07) and ran the anchor leg of the winning 4x100 relay team (50.18) that edged Thurston (50.23) thanks to Ford's sprint to the finish.

"What more can you say about Paige?" Herbert said.

Ford was winded after a long day of events, but still had plenty of energy to celebrate afterward with her team. She said the highlight of the meet was "definitely the (4x100) relay."

"That was such a close race," said Ford, who set PRs in the 100 and 200. "I really don't remember thinking anything except just run hard. I didn't hear the crowd until after the race, and then I could tell how loud it was."

The one race Ford didn't win was one of the two that Marshfield's Leah Worthen did. Worthen won the 200 (25.51) and 400 (58.41), and also anchored the Pirates' winning 4x400 relay team (4:09.32) in her first district meet after missing last year's due to a hip injury.

"It was a nice day for me," Worthen said. "The 200 is my favorite, and it felt good coming off the corner, so I was pretty stoked about that. Now we have to stay calm and focused for next week."

The Axemen hung tough thanks to wins from Sarah Pearson in the 1,500 (4:44.08) and Lexie Viggiano (37- 1/2 ) in the triple jump.

Pearson said the heat bothered her a little, but it wasn't enough to keep her from finishing ahead of Churchill's Jessica Schoepke and South Eugene's Erin Gray to grab her first district title.

"I was expecting to go faster, but it still felt good to win," Pearson said. "I really wanted to be under 4:40, and I'm ready to do that at state."

For Viggiano, who finished second to Ford in the 100, her winning leap was a personal best and capped a week in which she also posted a PR to win Wednesday's long jump final.

"Winning three events would have been exciting, but Paige ran an incredibly fast time," Viggiano said. "My goal all year was to jump 18 in the long jump and 37 in the triple jump, and I got them both."

Other district titles decided Friday were Schoepke in the 800 (2:19.68), Amanda Santana of North Eugene in the 300 hurdles (44.54) and Stacey Coyle of Marshfield in the shot put (39-9).

But in the end, the story was the Irish and the end of their 35-year district title drought.

"Our school has done so well this season in a lot of sports, and it's fun to add to it," Ford said. "Some people usually forget about Sheldon in the spring, so it's exciting to win."

CAPTION(S):

Paige Ford (right) ran the anchor leg of Sheldon's winning 4x100 relay to cap a day in which she won district titles in the 100 and 100 hurdles. Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard Marshfield's Leah Worthen (left) crosses the finish line to win the 400, and she added a win later in the day in the 200. Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard Bold text and this is light text and this is more light text Girls: Wins by Dentel, Bevens set tone Continued from Page D1
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Title Annotation:Drama makes an early exit as girls end title drought; Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 24, 2003
Words:873
Previous Article:Sheldon's district a super sweep.
Next Article:Prep Scoreboard.


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