By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– Walking out for their 3,000 meter race at the start of the 3A State Track and Field Meet, you could sense the nerves with Hallie Baker and Sarah Kenyon.
“Well, I’ve never been to State for track before, so I didn’t know what I was getting into, that was kind of nerve-racking,” said Kenyon. “I didn’t know how fast these other girls would be, I just want to try to beat them.”
Baker’s been here before over the past two years, but the junior still gets the butterflies as they lined up for the race.
“Yeah it’s definitely a big stadium and there’s a lot of adrenaline running through you, a lot of nerves, a lot of competition here,” Baker said. “But it’s a good nervous.”
In that race, Baker finished tenth in a season record effort, Kenyon 12th, and the experience for Kenyon is something she’ll be able to use moving into her junior season of Track and Field.
“Definitely I make sure I’ll work with my teammate and not just run by myself and find someone to push me,” said Kenyon.
On the field side of things, Morgan Strunk, man this kid has came a long way since his devastating knee injury during his sophomore season that knocked him out of Track following a very successful freshman season.
Fast Forward two-years and two of his State events later, Strunk is just as strong physically and more so mentally at this point after the injury that sidelined him a few years ago.
“Freshman year it was phenomenal, came in and jumped really well in the long jump. The next year, I mean just blew my knee up, ‘Oh what am I going to do? This sucks’,” starts Strunk. “So God was like, giving me a plan heat and showed me all the other throws and that’s how I’m here today.
“And then he threw in the extra bit about, ‘hey I’m going to make you do Long Jump again’ and I was like, ‘Ok’ and I’m so stoked, that jump today was a season PR for me and it was 20-feet-2-and-three-quarters, finishing fourth and that’s what I got my freshman year. Super Happy about that, it just feels really good.”
Strunk threw 46-feet-9.5-inches in his fourth-place performance Thursday afternoon.
With two more events Friday, the Discus and Javelin there’s a good chance that Strunk could bring home more hardware and possible help put the Crusaders into the State Title Talks; and Strunk, well let’s say that this jump added more confidence to the already confident senior entering the final day of the season.
“After that jump, I could say, ‘ok, I’m definitely ready to go take some good places in the throws tomorrow, carry it over, get a good nights rest and focus on it,” he said.
So, if Strunk has the strength of Thor or The Hulk, does that make Wilson McLean The Flash?
McLean made it look way to easy in winning the heats for the 200 and 300 meter hurdles in getting back to the spot where he was last year as a sophomore.
“I felt beyond incredible,” said McLean. “I mean, go out there and PR in the 200. Barely inch that guy out, which was pretty nice, then come in, be dominate in the 300 Hurdles, that was a real confidence booster.
“I’m really excited for tomorrow, but it’s going to be a rough one. I’m just going to be mentally preparing tonight and hopefully I’ll be feeling good.”
What’s to come for McLean is the finals for the 200 meter dash, the 300 meter hurdles and the 4×100 and 4×400 relay races.
“I’m just going to be mentally preparing myself for what is ahead,” said Wilson. “I’m going to be giving my all in that 4×1 and then it’s all mental preparation. Just getting ready for the 200, come back around, get refreshed, get hydrated again.
“Go back out for the 300’s and hopefully, bring back some low times.”
Senior Davis McHugh finished ninth in the 3,000 meter race in 9:40.88. JuniorKrista Mulkey finished the 400 meter dash in 1:05.10. JT Williamson will join McLean in the 300 meter hurdles.
Williamson and Grant Webb both will be competing in the 110 meter Hurdle finals as well. McHugh will be lacing it up again for the 1,500 meter race as well.
Day 2 of the 3A State Championships start at 4pm at Hayward Field.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald