Willamina’s Cruz, Hughes Win District Titles And League Awards

By Jeremy McDonald


SALEM, Ore.–  Willamina’s Jose Cruz made the 1,500-meter race look so easy.  Going ahead from the start and slowly building to his lead, winning the event by seven seconds over Delphian’s London Withworth.  Picking up his second District Title of the Meet following his 3,000-meter race District Title that he picked up Friday.

“It’s my first-year going hard in Track so it’s a great accomplishment.  Hopefully next year I can keep destroying my own records.  I love it, I love it,” Cruz said.  “At the beginning (of the 1,500-meter) race, I was looking at the numbers.  I saw that they were pretty close, but not so close.  I was going for a pace that won’t wear me out, but enough to secure the win comfortably.  I think I did what I exactly needed to do to get it done just to get to first, go to State and that’s where I’m going to go all out and give it all I have left.”

For Cruz, he almost made it a three-for-three in the Meet when he came storming to the front of the 400-meter race.  Finishing second and qualifying for State in the one-lap race just 0.31 behind Delphian’s Lucas Curry.

The surge caught Cruz off guard as he had roughly ten minutes to rest up in between the 1,500-meter race and the 400-meter race Saturday afternoon at Blanchet Catholic.

“I couldn’t even tell you.  I was surprised that I was able to run it after the 15, it was only ten minutes of a rest. Kicking it in at the end was crazy, it just happened,” smilesCruz.  “I knew I was capable of doing it with a ten minute rest, now with State it’s going to be an hour rest, I’ll be for sure ready.  I’m excited.”

After picking up three District Titles in 3A in 2022, Willamina’s Hallee Hughes picked up another three District Titles in 2023 at Blanchet Catholic (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Cruz was named Male Athlete of the Year and Boys Athlete of the Meet.  Teammate Hallee Hughes was named Field Athlete of the Year, and showed why she deserved the honor with another three-peat in Discus, Shot Put and Discus.  Winning the three in 2A as she did in 3A last year.  Bringing her District Title Total to eight to close out her High School career.

“I really wanted to get up to the double-digits, that’s why I was pushing myself so hard.  (Eight) is pretty freaking awesome and coming back from an injury, I’m like  three-four months post-injury and I’m not even healed and that’s pretty good, almost hitting a PR with one-day of practice,” Hughes describes.  “I’m going to do some rehab next week, do a lot of throwing and lot of lifting, but mostly mentality preparing because mental is everything.”

Evelyn Anderson was sixth in the 100-meter dash, Pole Vault and in the 300-meter hurdles, Ethan Sabin was eighth in the 800-meters, Hope Stanton was fourth in the 1,500-meter race.  Kalena Clark was eighth in the 100-meter dash and was seventh in the 300-meter hurdles.  Zoie Sickles was fifth in the Discus, Michael Nolen and Kaleb Cruickshank went second and seventh in the Javelin.  Alexis Wertz went seventh in the Javelin as well.  Dylan Grham was fifth in the High Jump, Nichole Goodwin was eighth in the Triple Jump

Photos By Jeremy McDonald


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