By Jeremy McDonald
MT. ANGEL, Ore.– The headbands were in full-effect Thursday at John F. Kennedy High School for the Salem Academy 4×400 relay team.
Something starting during Wilson McLean’s freshman year, it became a fixture for the relay team that they still continue to this day.
“We started that tradition my freshman year,” said the junior McLean. “I bought a bunch of headbands for the fellas and ever since then we’ve been wearing the headbands for the 4×4 and the relays. It’s a fun little thing that we do to mess around with each other and build more partnership with each other.”
As the Headband Gang, the Ninja Turtles or whatever you want to call them start on their journey to end the PacWest-Tri-Rivers Meet began with JT Williamson, they knew the competition they had with those around them.
Kennedy and Jefferson in particular.
Williamson started strong and Sam Kenyon maintained that lead on the Crusaders second leg as Davis McHugh took over the third leg and increased that lead further to give them the cushion as McLean took over the final lap around the Kennedy track.
“It was very important because if I haven’t done good, I would’ve put Wilson in a rough spot and we had to battle and he was racing some very, very competitive racers,” said McHugh’s on his part of the relay.
Going against McLean were big names like Bishop Mitchell of Kennedy and Jefferson’s Ahmed Ibrahim, and McLean knew both those guys were legit, strong runners, but the junior showed no fear as they finished the relay in 3:43.76, a full 3.91 seconds over the Kennedy Trojans.
“It was really important that Davis go out like he did, he had a great leg,” said McLean. “It’s all a mental battle once I get the baton with that big of a lead because I know that he’s behind me and I know he has the potential of catching me.
“But that’s the thing about running the fourth, it keeps me honest and it was really great he got that lead for us.”
It was the first appearance of the 4×400 team in a meet all year as the team, minus McLean, scratched in last week’s crossover.
But the 4×100 team of Grant Webb, McLean, Kyle Haslebacher and Kenyon would go on to win their event Thursday as the speedster in Kenyon tore the sprint open as the senior sealed the 45.98, 0.3 second win over Kennedy over the Trojan speedster in Mitchell for the relay win.
For Kenyon, he admits that the nerves were there as he felt good about bringing home the win for the Crusaders.
“I was pretty nervous because Bishop is…he’s incredibly fast,” said Kenyon on Kennedy’s Bishop Mitchell. “He’s someone you definitely got to don’t want to run against you if you can help it. He might’ve had a off day, but it felt good.”
Kenyon’s younger sister Sarah was everywhere for the Salem Academy girls Thursday as the sophomore finished third in the 800 meters, 1500 meters, and 15th in the shotput as she juggles everything that she does during the meet.
“It’s just something you got to do, you spend half your practice running, the other half practice throwing,” said Sarah Kenyon with a smile after the 1500 meter race. “Then you just have to pay real careful attention to when your suppose to be out there running.”
There’s always something special about athletes that can do both throwing and running events and making both work.
Other notables were McHugh’s huge late push for the 1500 meter win over Chemawa’s Dyrrel Francisco, McLean’s dominate 300 meter hurdles win.
Kara Standridge took the High Jump with a leap of 4-foot-10-inches, Stacia Panther takes the Triple Jump with a jump of 32-feet-six-inches.
Morgan Strunk had a season record Javelin throw of 142-feet-11-inches and Long Jump (18-feet, 7.5-inches) as Gage Hazleton takes the High Jump (5-foot-four-inches) as Salem Academy finished one through three in the guys event
For full results, check out the results at Athletic.net here: https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/MeetResults.aspx?Meet=288615#103
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald