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Usual suspects lining up as favorites.

Byline: Adam Jude The Register-Guard

The usual powers are again emerging as the favorites in the race for the Sky-Em League track and field championships.

Marist and Siuslaw went head-to-head during a four-team dual meet last week in Florence, offering an early preview of the district meet. The Siuslaw boys ran away with the victory and the Marist girls claimed the dual win, narrowly holding off the Vikings by two points.

"It was a little too close on the girls side," Marist co-coach Cathie Twomey Bellamy said. "It was a wake-up call for me."

The Spartans' girls team provides the league's best chance to hurdle Siuslaw's quest for a second straight sweep of the district meet, scheduled to begin May 11 at Elmira.

"Marist is the favorite right now on paper," Siuslaw coach Chris Johnson said. "But I think our girls will be right in there."

Twomey Bellamy and Pat Wagner, in their seventh season together as Marist coaches, have been flooded with young talent. Their roster features 113 athletes, including a strong contingent of girls that has the potential to score big points at the state meet.

Senior Emily Collins, a two-time state champion, highlights the Spartans' relay teams, which have clocked the state's best times this season.

"I think our boys and girls can make a run," Twomey Bellamy said. "We're making a quiet assault on regaining the title. We're taking care of business in each event each day."

Siuslaw returns the nucleus of the girls team that won the district title last season without an individual champion.

"To have no wins and still take the district title was one of the highlights of my coaching career," Johnson said. "We're going to try to continue to deliver in every area. ... The biggest difference (between Marist and Siuslaw) is that Marist has girls who will go to the state meet and score. We don't have a team made up of superstars."

Senior Damaris Tucker, the 2003 state high jump champion, headlines a Junction City squad that should steal some thunder from Marist and Siuslaw.

With four returning state qualifiers, La Pine has as much talent as any team, but probably won't have the depth to challenge for the team title.

Elmira junior Lauren Zaludek is the reigning state champ in the 3,000 and should contend in the 1,500 as well.

Pleasant Hill's hopes hinge on the return of senior star Danica Bates, a former state champion in the long jump and both hurdles races.

Bates missed the entire basketball season after a knee injury, then had orthoscopic surgery on March 14 to remove scar tissue. She may not be available until late in the season, if at all.

In the meantime, freshman Braidy Bates will try to fill her sister's shoes, competing in the sprints and high jumps. Braidy has already recorded the state's fastest time this season in the 100 (13.14) and the ninth-best time in the 200 (27.62).

Cottage Grove senior Whitney Harris, the district record-holder in the javelin, threw a personal-best 149 feet, 4 inches during an April 1 home meet, the second-best mark in the state this season behind North Bend's Ashley McCrea (157-2).

"This league is a killer," Creswell coach David Nickelson said.

The district meet may not be as close on the boys side. Siuslaw has won three consecutive titles - the past two in the Sky-Em and the other in the Far West League - and is the unanimous pick again.

"I'd be lying if I didn't think we were the favorite," Johnson said.

Losing standout Collin Cram hasn't slowed Siuslaw. Cram placed in the top five in four events at state last year and led the Vikings to second- and third-place finishes, respectively, at the past two state meets.

"Collin was a once-in-a-lifetime-type kid," Johnson said. "But we have some good hurdlers and jumpers, which should soften the blow."

The Vikings return five state qualifiers, including senior Adam Pino, who was second in the 3,000 and fourth in the 1,500 last season at Hayward Field.

Seniors Kyle Kotaich (800, 1,500), Jared Kriel (triple jump), Corbin McClanahan (javelin), Gabe Haberly (hurdles), Chris Voogd (pole vault) and Jordan Thomas-Dotson (discus) should also be among the league favorites in their events.

"We have a lot of seniors ... and those guys are accustomed to success," Johnson said. "I think they're confident, but they're probably hungry to go for the big title after finishing 2-3 at state the last two years."

At Cottage Grove, Troy Tocher, Cody Furrer and Jeremy Cantu anchor the Lions' 4x100 relay team, which finished second at state last season. Tocher and fellow senior Wyatt Naegle should also challenge for individual district titles.

"Our guys are really focused on the district championship," Cottage Grove coach Nathan Bridgens said. "If by the end of the season we have everyone healthy, we should be a strong contender. I'm already excited for districts."

With a hefty load of blossoming freshmen, Marist will certainly be a factor.

Depth should be the Spartans' biggest asset, but senior Eric Wood, the league's reigning champion in the shot put and discus, provides plenty of heavy-lifting at the top.

"We are so young and have so much talent," Twomey Bellamy said. "Our strength is our depth and enthusiasm and belief in their own abilities."

Junior Shay Black is the Spartans' best athlete; he was state qualifier in the 100, and he'll also compete in the 200, long jump, triple jump and both relays. Matt Frosland is one of the favorites in the high jump and Bryan Dibos should be favored in the distance races.

Pleasant Hill features senior Ryan Drake, who took second in the high jump at state last year.

Alex Nystrom and David Benson were members of Junction City's two state-qualifying relay teams, and J.J. McCool looms for the Tigers as a threat in the distance events.

Creswell's A.J. O'Connell holds the state's best mark in the high jump this season after clearing 6-6.


Returning boys state qualifiers: Troy Tocher, sr., Cottage Grove (3rd district 300 hurdles, 5th at state). Wyatt Naegle, sr., Cottage Grove (3rd district high jump, 10th at state; 3rd district 110 hurdles, did not qualify for final at state). A.J. O'Connell, sr., Creswell (2nd district high jump, 9th at state). Kenny Thissell, sr., La Pine (2nd district 3,000, 6th at state. 2nd district 1,500, 15th at state). Eric Wood, sr., Marist (1st district shot put, 5th at state. 1st district discus, 7th at state). Shay Black, jr., Marist (3rd district 100, did not qualify for final at state). Matt Frosland, jr., Marist (6th district high jump, no height at state). Ryan Drake, sr., Pleasant Hill (1st district high jump, 3rd at state; 2nd district javelin, 9th at state). Eric Geeting, jr., Siuslaw (2nd district 100, did not qualify for final at state). Kyle Kotaich, sr., Siuslaw (2nd district 800, 5th at state). Adam Pino, sr., Siuslaw (1st district 3,000, 2nd at state; 1st district 1,500, 4th at state). Jared Kriel, sr., Siuslaw (2nd district triple jump, 10th at state). Corbin McClanahan, sr., Siuslaw (3rd district javelin, 15th at state).

Returning girls state qualifiers: Whitney Harris, sr., Cottage Grove (1st district javelin, 2nd at state; 2nd district 200, did not qualify for final at state). Lauren Zaludek, jr., Elmira (1st district 3,000, state champion; 1st district 1,500, 10th at state). Margo Meyer, sr., Elmira (1st district 200, 8th at state). Damaris Tucker, sr., Junction City (1st district long jump, 2nd at state; 1st district high jump, 2nd at state). Angela Rear, sr., Junction City (2nd district 100 hurdles, 8th at state). Jamie Burg, jr., Junction City (2nd district 800, 7th at state). Chelsea Russell, sr., La Pine (1st district pole vault, 2nd at state). Emily Pick, jr., La Pine (1st district discus, 5th at state; 1st district shot put, 12th at state). Erika Pajunen, sr., La Pine (2nd district triple jump, 10th at state). Emily Collins, sr., Marist (1st district 800, state champion.). Emily Gillespie, jr., Marist (1st district triple jump, 8th at state; 2nd district high jump, 7th at state. 2nd district 300 hurdles, 8th at state); Laundrea da Silva, jr., Marist (2nd district 100, 3rd at state). Danica Bates, sr., Pleasant Hill (1st district 100 hurdles, 2nd at state; 1st district 300 hurdles, 2nd at state; 1st district 100, 5th at state; 2nd district long jump, 1st at state). Brenda Valenzuela, sr., Pleasant Hill (2nd district discus, 14th at state). Molly Sedlacek, jr., Siuslaw (2nd district javelin, 17th at state).

Notes: Cottage Grove introduced Kelli Renfro as its new distance coach. She previously coached at Henley. ... The newest additions to the Sky-Em include Marist transfers Ben Hollander and Matt Hollander (Roseburg), Junction City's Bryan Harper (Summit) and Creswell junior Paul Shrives (from Montana). ... Notable freshmen on the girls side include Pleasant Hill's Braidy Bates, Marist's Elena Collins, Kate Wilkins and Meghan Whalen, Siuslaw's Gretchen Dunning, Jessica Hensley and Jennifer Hague, Junction City's Kayla Rauschert and Leah Mancino, and Cottage Grove's Kallie Nowak. ... The top freshmen boys include Elmira's Trevor Henson, Siuslaw's Kody Reavis, Cottage Grove's Robert Foster, and Marist's Kyle Jackson, Conner Kerns and Michael Bellamy.

Dates to remember: The district track meet is May 11 and 14 at Elmira High School. The state meet is May 20-21 at Hayward Field.


Siuslaw's Adam Pino signals victory in the 3,000 meters at last year's Sky-Em district championships. "Quote and quote and quote and quote and quote." - NAME, TITLE OR SUPLEMENTARY INFO HERE S k y - E m L e a g u e t r a c k a n d f i e l d Kevin Clark / The Register-Guard Marist's Emily Collins (913) and Elmira's Lauren Zaludek (785) are two of the Sky-Em League's state-champion distance runners. Collins, now a senior, won the Class 3A 800, and Zaludek claimed the 3,000-meter title last spring as a sophomore.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Siuslaw boys, Viking and Marist girls draw early nods as teams to beat come district time
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 12, 2005
Previous Article:Girls make gains since last season.
Next Article:Boys catching up with Irish.

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