By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore– The blonde speedster in Wilson McLean was on a tear last year. He remembered the pain from his sophomore season and having to be replaced in his races due to him being sick.
Last year, his junior season, was almost like redemeption as was on a tear as he averaged first or second in most of his races as he brought home the State Title in the 300 meter hurdles (PR Time of 40.17) and a second-place finish in the 200 meter dash (22.72) before helping The Headband Gang to second place finishes in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
“I mean that could be all I could ever ask for in that year,” “I mean going through the entire junior year, that was all in the forefront in my mind. I mean that’s what kept me motivated through the hard practices, through the cold days through everything.
“Just wanting to get back to get back to that position and just wanting to experience what was…I guess you could say taken from me. Just being so helpless, I didn’t want to feel like that anymore and so I just wanted to go out there and blow it up.”
For White Lighting, this year is going to be unique as he’s going to be going to a meet at West Salem, going up to Spokane for some competition. All to make himself better entering his senior season.
“I’m just trying to make the most out of every opportunity that’s going to be put in front of me,” “I’m going to take every advantage, taking every opportunity I can and make the most of every practice and every decision.”
This year is going to be a little different for McLean and the boys crew. JT Williamson transferred out to California, Sam Kenyon and Grant Webb both graduated. Gage Hazleton did not return, leaving McLean and Dawson Patton (State Winner in the Triple Jump with a leap of 42-feet-9.5-inches) to lead the way.
“This year is going to be different than it was last year. We didn’t have as many guys coming out, I mean the only returners from the State team…we graduated all of them except for me and Dawson (Patton) and Gage isn’t coming out this year so that’s going to hurt a little bit,” said McLean. “We have such a small group this year. I mean our boys team is super small but it’s all freshman.
“So it’ll be good for us to get some teaching in and that’s what really needs to happen, we need to step up and help guide this young group and hopefully can do better in the future but I’m just really excited to see what we can do. But I’m always excited for new blood and I’m just ready for this season and it’s what it all comes down too. Not doing football and all of swim season and this is what it all comes down too.”
Head Coach Casey Haslebacher is also expecting Morgan Strunk’s younger brother Mason to step up as the younger Strunk is looking to break the records his older brother and dad made in the past several years.
On the girls side, they graduated Stacia Panther who finished fifth in the Triple Jump at State as a senior last year (34-feet-9.25-inch jump). But they are returning State Qualifying Distance Runners in Sarah Kenyon and Halle Baker as well as Krista Mulkey who finished 11th in the 400 meter dash as a junior.
Baker and Mulkey however, are still playing basketball for the Crusaders who are preparing for Coos Bay and the Elite 8. Also too, Lauren Kendall too has returned as the junior finished third in the 800 meter dash at the PacWest Conference District Race and was part of the 4×400 meter relay team that finished third as well at Districts last season.
For the quiet Kenyon, last year was fun and all but this year it’s all about just trying to be a leader and doing their best.
“I think it was fun, working with our team there but it’ll be a lot different with a lot of people gone,” said Kenyon. “Just be a leader and come together as a team and doing our best.”