By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.–The first jump of his long jump hurt his back, but he was able to gain a sizable lead on the field with that first jump.
As the field progressed and Morgan Strunk sat on the bench nursing the injury, Blanchet Catholic’s Zion Steiner up’d the ante by seizing the lead with his final leap at 20-feet-one-and-a-half-inches, a PR for the senior Cavalier.
As Kirk Gibson did in the 1988 World Series to help win the LA Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s; Strunk, probably as cold as Gibson was on his homerun shot, stood up from the horizon and lined up for his final attempt.
“Crazy, my first jump, I jumped and I twisted my back kind of funny and I didn’t jump because I didn’t want to hurt it for tomorrow, but then Zion comes in, he had a huge PR so I had to throw something out there,” said Strunk.
Strunk, needing to beat Steiner’s 20’1.5″ jump, needed a great jump as he took his starting spot.
“I just walked up and said, ‘I’m going to do my best, Lord you got the rest’, and shook it out and got shook out all the coldness and just let it rip, just let it go,” Strunk described the walk-up to the line.
He runs down the runaway, jumps and land.
The result comes in:
20-feet-two-and-a-half-inches, good enough for first place and for his second District Title on the day.
“I don’t know, its un-describable, I was just able to pull my feet up just get a little bit farther. I just walked away from that jump, I did a fist in the air and ‘yeah’,” said Strunk of the winning jump.
His other title, a 46-feet-seven-inches shot-put throw in the rain, six-feet-seven-inches further than his next closest opponent.
“I had a ok shotput today,” said Strunk. “It turned out to be good, even in this weather. I’m just glad to be out here and giving Glory to God.”
In another field event involving a Crusader, Kara Standridge had to go to ‘Overtime’ with Jefferson’s Meriah Oien after both jumpers finished with a leap of four-feet-eight-inches, but the junior was up to the challenge ahead.
“It was definitely a challenge, but I was definitely up to it,” said Standridge. “I really worked hard.”
She would win the ‘jumpoff’ over Oienm but she knew that the challenge that Oien gave Thursday will help her come State when she’ll face similar competition.
“It was great, it was a tough competition, (Oien) was really good,” said Standridge. “She definitely gave me a good competition.
In the running events, Salem Academy finished 1,2 in the 3,000 meter races on the girls side with Hallie Baker winning the event in 12:27.46 and Sarah Kenyon was second at 13:04.05.
Baker was excited in winning her first High School 3K as she makes her third trip to the State race, but was equally excited to see her and Kenyon go together to Eugene.
“It feels great, this is the first time I’ve won a 3K in High School,” said Baker. “It’s just really cool having someone there with you and it’s definitely like support, someone to keep training with, to warm up with and cool down with; it’s just nice knowing a face in the crowd.”
“It’s pretty amazing, I didn’t think I would make it,” said Kenyon, who led the first lap-plus of the race before Baker took over the lead. “I’m really glad Hallie made it too, so we can push each other at State.”
Kenyon had to hold off a charging Caliee Johnson from the Cavaliers in a 13:07 PR effort and three seconds behind Kenyon, to qualify for the State race.
“I didn’t know she was so close,” said Kenyon with a smile about Johnson’s late charge.
Another distance runner who made it was Davis McHugh, the senior finished second to the Lions Abdi Ibrahim, made it five on the day for Salem Academy runners as McHugh finished the race with a 9:45.86 time.
And the feeling for McHugh was great after how last season ended with him missing out of a State bid by about five seconds when he ran a 9:59.32 as a junior.
He came back to the race this year and slowly saw that time drop. 9:52, 9:48. PR-ing at 9:30.33 and now Thursday as the senior enters State with so much happiness and confidence.
“I just kept seeing the 3K (time) going down and I was like, ‘that’s going to be my race’ and it’s awesome to know I’m going to State and run, I’m pretty excited,” he said. “At the beginning of the year I didn’t know I was going to be able to run that (fast). Last meet I ran l was at a 9:30 and I didn’t know I could do that.
“And so it’s crazy to see all that 3K time going down for me.”
For Day 2, the finals for the 100, 200, 400 and 800 will happen to name a few as the 1,500 and the 4×100 and 4×400 relays will take part as well Friday at Scio High School.
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Photos By Jeremy McDonald