By Jeremy McDonald
MOUNT ANGEL, Ore.– A lot of pressure was on Salem Academy’s Celia James coming down the stretch of her 400-meter race in the 2A Special District 2 District Race Saturday afternoon. The freshman encountered a strong breeze on the backstretch, not as bad as the wind had been in prior days thankfully, but presented a challenge to racers nonetheless competing in it.
Santiam’s Avarie Peterson and Kennedy’s Haley Kline were creeping up fast behind her. More so the junior in Kline who overcame the Wolverines freshman Peterson coming around for the final hundred-meters, nipping at the heels of James coming to the finish line.
“It was pretty hard because there was wind on the back-stretch and I was like ‘just keep pushing. Just keep pushing’ and then after that I gutted it out and went 110-percent. If someone was behind me, I wasn’t going to give it up,” James said. “I’m just going to keep running. I was just looking at the finish line, ‘I’m almost there. I’m almost there. I’m doing this for God, my friends and for my family. I just want that medal.’ I just wanted to be done.”
James would take the District Title over Kline by 0.46 of a second, 1:04.36 to Kline’s 1:04.82. James came off the track, sat down to recollect her thoughts. Teammate Posi Olofin came over to embrace her friend and teammate after the win as the two shared a few words following James’ win.
“I was in shock, but after that I was like ‘wow. I did it’. I could just relax…Another week. I’m happy, but now I’m looking forward to the next week,” James said.
James joins Abby Halladay (second-place 100-meter hurdles), Malena Robnett (shot put), Annabelle Bralwy (Javelin District WInner), Olofin (Triple Jump District Runner-Up) and helped the 4×100 meter relay team qualify for State on the girls side.
On the boy’s side, an interesting twist of fate happened. Luck maybe or an example of the shear athleticism of Chase Brown that was front-and-center. It was something Brown did chuckle about when he thought about it after the fact. In his third time doing Triple Jump, Brown broke the school record with a jump of 43-feet-3.5-inches to win the District Title. One of three events, along with High Jump (fourth-place) and 110-meter hurdles (District Runner-Up), that Brown has qualified for State for.
“I can’t believe it at all. I really can’t believe I did that,” smiled Brown of the record and his overall Meet. “It feels amazing. It feels like I should need more preparation, like if I did it my sophomore and junior year I’ll be a little higher this year. But I’m doing as well as I’m doing right now and I’m so happy about it.”
Brown went to Hayward as a spectator when oldest sister Sydney went a few years ago, but now it’s his turn to partake in the dream that is to compete at Hayward Field.
“I felt the nerves watching her do it. I know I’m going to be nervous for State, but I’m going to do as hard as I can,” Brown said.
Caleb McGraw won the District Meet in the Shot Put and Discus. Aden Dardis was third in the shot put, also qualifying.for the State Meet.