By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– During the chaos around them from the people in the stands, the teammates on the sidelines and the hectic scene on the track, North Salem’s Madison Willhoft waits for the hand-off from teammate Aaliyah Fitzke as the 4×400 Viking squad tries to climb back into contention to win.
Hopping around before the race out of excitment, the sophomore got the hand-off as she tries to close the gap with the front group with a look of determination.
Willhoft managed to close the gap when she hands the baton to the speedster in Rebekah Miller as she takes off like The Flash from the comic books
“She closes the gap and gets me in range of the other runners, enough range to where I can keep pace with them and pass them in the 100 meters,” said Miller on the Willhoft-Miller Connection. “Coach always tells me to turn it into a 100 meter race cause he knows that’s what I can beat them.
“So she pushes me to as close as I can and I do the rest.”
Though they were in the back of the pack when Willhoft took over on Lap 3, by the end of the race when Miller crossed the line, the North Salem Lady Runners were fourth with a 4:18.13 time, just 0.16 of a second behind Central for third-place.
Not bad for a team still recovering from their performances against West Salem and McMinnville Wednesday.
“Our first two girls are just learning how to get into the 4×4,” said Willhoft. “We got our freshman Abi (Swain), then Aaliyah she’s always running four events so she’s always tired; so I know our time could drop and we were still tired from the West Salem meet.
“But the way we just power through it cause we know we’re pretty strong, our hand-offs are really good. We practice those pretty well and that’s just makes us strong, we still celebrate even if we don’t get the win.”
Willhoft helped the Distance Medley Relay team to a fourth-place finish in the race as Miller took the 100 meter race, Triple Jump and the Long Jump, Fitzke took the 300 meter hurdle race. Kiara Ballard also was a winner, taking the Javelin with a throw of 115-feet-1-inch as the Lady Viks finished third in the meet with 86.5 points.
In the North Salem 4×400 Guys Relay team, Alex Vasquez helped set the pace in the first heat of the relays, the squad finished second in that particular relay race.
“It was definitely big,” said Vasquez. “You don’t always have to be first, but we have a good start, have good hand-offs, give the person your hand-off a good start to come back and take first.
“I think we did good, our hand-offs look pretty good, we all worked hard, never gave up. Even when we knew we’re going to take second, our guys kept pushing the whole way, trying to get the best time we could take.”
Vasquez finished 12th in the 100 meter race and helped the 4×200 relay team to a sixth-place finish.
Isaiah O’Connell won the Triple Jump with a leap of 43-feet-0.50-inches. Quillie Bonner finished second in the Discus with a throw of 134-feet-10-inches, Michael Bolen too finished second in the Javelin (155-feet-3-inches) as Adam Foreman took third in the 300 meter hurdles.
For Full Results, visit: https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/MeetResults.aspx?Meet=278860#271
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