By Jeremy McDonald
SPRINGFIELD, Ore.—It was time to empty the tank, finish the Summer off right.
For the last time, just the fourth-time this summer on Thursday evening, the Oregon Track Club held an All-Comers Meet. With the uncertainty of tomorrow, it was all about today to leave it on the track just in case.
Cascade’s Emma Gates was coming off two weeks away from competition, missing the third meet due to work two weeks ago and the no meet last week, was looking to end her Summer slate off right and strongly in the 100- and 200-meter races.
The Cougar Junior sprinter and high jumper PR’d in the 100 (12.81) and 200 (26.57), finishing fifth and third-respectively in the meet.
“It’s great because this might be the last meet. I was feeling so good today and it was great,” said Gates. “I just think taking a break from working out and focusing on stretching and the little things, really helped me perform (today) than even the week before.
“I’m just going to be really motivated (moving forward) and hoping we’ll have a season this year and hoping for a Senior Season. I’m going to keep trying and keep working.”
Her third-place finish in the 200-meter and her fifth-place finish in the 100-meter dash Thursday was her best finishes in the three meets she took part in.
Over the past four weeks, South Salem’s Evan Gonzalez has nabbed victories in the 400-, 800-meters the first two weeks. Top 5 finish in the 200 and a third-place finish weeks ago in the 800-meter was his resume this summer as he went out at a blazing pace to start the 400.
“Come through with a 54, with how hard that was I was glad I finished the race. It was definitely rough but I enjoyed every minute of it,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez teammate Elias Hunter, who finished second and sixth in the 800-meter the last two meets, noticed his teammate’s hot pace as the incoming Senior in Hunter finished 13th in a stacked 800-meter race field on this evening. A field that featured members from the Lane Community College team making the drive over from Eugene to Springfield.
“I came around the first lap pretty fast today too, I knew I was close to him so I knew I just had to hang on that second lap,” said Hunter. “I’ve felt pretty solid about today. I had about a week where I had a couple of speed trainings and built on up. It’s a little slow than I’ve done in previous track seasons but I’m definitely happy with what I can do even though I’ve done a lot of cross-country training.”
Gonzalez paced slowed dramatically in the second lap, but still finished with a time of 1:58.31. He had won the heat as he collapsed to the track, good enough for second overall. Outdueling Titan runner Joel Yasin and Clackamas’ Abin Ibrahim, who finished third and fourth, by a second and was a second off the winning pace by Southern Utah’s George Espino (1:57.04).
“I just love competing in general, that’s my favorite part of the sport actually,” starts Gonzalez. “I love coming to these meets, running against someone or not being able to show my talent and then pull everyone else up too, giving them high-spirits…that’s what it’s all about here.”
West Salem’s Evan Henkel, who finished fifth in the 6A 800-meter race as a Sophomore in 2019, made his lone appearance at the All-Comers Meet on Wednesday. The Titan Senior had overcame a slow start due to a strong head-wind to finish second in the race with a time of 54.79, a PR for the West Salem mid-distance runner.
“The beginning was just tough. The (head) wind wasn’t very nice, so I was just trying to pace myself to finish strong and it worked out. I think I did pretty well,” said Henkel of the run. “I wasn’t really nervous going into the race and I wasn’t really nervous racing or after the race, I was just kind of out here to run a 400 and see how it went.”
Salem Academy’s TJ Lee was fifth in the 400-meter run and 17th in the 800-meter run, PR-ing with a time of 2:27.39.
Mazama’s Aidan Kindt won the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Mia Brahe-Pedersen of Lake Oswego Middle School won the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Allen Kyle Goecks won the 400. Pacific Crest Middle School’s Kate Cheldelin won the girls 400 meter and Isabella Kansala from Lane Community College won the 800-meter run on the girls side.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald