By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Not one, not two, not three or four…but seven.
Seven McKay Royal Scot Track and Field athletes are going to the Hallowed Grounds known as Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon located in the heart of Tracktown USA for the 6A State Championships.
Israel Garza, Andrea Fennimore, Zach Hammack, Avori Miranda, Damian Rios, Yaset Carlos and Caleb Grove.
Excitement is in the air, especially with Head Coach Curt Everetts who showed his excitement up to this point as his 4×100 team received an Wild Card spot to join Garza and Fennimore for the trip down to Eugene Friday and Saturday.
“We were on pins and needles waiting for it,” said Everetts on the Wild Card pick. “I was checking my phone probably every 10 minutes and as soon as it was updated, we were jumping.
“I was happen to be with my assistant coach and my daughters who are also assistant coaches, we were just high fiving each other so it was great. They deserved it, the blocks slipped in their race. They took third and they should’ve been there so we’ll get our revenge.”
For Garza, though he’s a member of that 4×100 relay team, he also automatically qualified for the 100 meter and 200 meter races in the Greater Valley Conference District Championships Friday in McMinnville.
That 100 meter race, said Garza, had West Salem’s Chase Lankin in the lead until the final 40 meters of the race; and in the 200 meters, Garza kicked into gear to beat McNary’s Brendan Van Voorhis.
Both races, Garza won by a combined 0.30 of a second!
“Excitement, excitement, excitement,” described Garza with a smile after his epic 100 meter win. “Once I finished that, it gave me more motivation to run the 200 (meters). I had a bad start, I was in sixth (place) at first then, as soon as I hit the corner, I kicked it in and did my best.”
With 2016 being his second go-around in the 100 meter dash and first in the 200 and the 4×100 meter relay, the sophomore is more confident entering this year’s festivities.
“Last year I was feeling it out, seeing what it was like,” said Garza. “And this year, going in I’m more focused and I’ll be ready.”
Fennimore, who competed in the State Tournament in the 4×100 race as a freshman, hopes to PR in her final appearance in the Big Show.
This time around in the Long Jump as she set forth a goal of going one more time before graduating here in a few weeks.
“I really wanted to make sure that I went again this year. (It’s) kind of like of a reunion, if you can do it your freshman year you can do it your senior year,” said Fennimore. “I’m not really nervous as much as I’m excited. I’m really, really excited. I think it’s a good ending to my senior year.”
As she hits 16-feet in practice, the senior qualified for State with a fourth-place finish with a leap of 17’7.25” jump.
Fennimore though, has a feeling that she’ll be grouped with those she competed with in McMinnville as she’s nervous about competing with them again outside of those from all over the State of Oregon.
“I’m more nervous to compete against the girls in my district again just because I know how they are and there’s really close competition where were right within an inch of each other,” she started.
“So it’ll be cool to compete against the other schools but I think I’m going to think more of it as another District Meet and there’s just more girls.”
As for the 4×100 unit, Garza knows that he cannot speak entirely for them, but he believes that they’re capable to shock some people beyond their ‘Wild Card’-tag.
“We’re going out there running a faster time than we did,” said Garza. “I definitely think we can run a faster time I think we’re capable of running fastest time than some of the people that are going into it.”
These seven, these Royaled Few, will be put to the test at Hayward Field Friday and Saturday in Eugene when it’s time to shine against Oregon’s Best.
“Considering last year we brought one, my goal at the start of the season was to bring as many as we can and brining seven exceeded my expectations a lot and we’re just building,” Everetts said.“We’re a small school, we don’t have numbers, but we’re building the program up.
“Hopefully next year we double that number, so I’m excited for them.”
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EXTRA PICTURES FROM MCKAY PRACTICE (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)