“There's no question that we had a great week, but her performance was definitely the highlight,” said coach and Athletic Director Chris Johnson of Andrea Osbon’s performance at Tuesday’s (April 27) track meet at Cottage Grove.
The Vikings performed very well at the meet, with the boys coming in first over Cottage Grove and Junction City while also picking up 39 total personal records (PRs), and the girls finishing third with 13 PRs.
Osbon had two of the girls’ team’s PRs, winning both the shot put (39-06) and discus (115-01).
“Her shot put is the number 5 all-time and her discus is the number 8 of all time,” said Johnson. “We’ve had some pretty good throwers over the years, especially in the shot put for girls, so for her to get in the top five is awesome.
“I hate to talk about milestone marks,” admitted Johnson, “but 40 feet is kind of a big deal for a female in the shot put. She's knocking at the door for sure.”
Osbon also placed first in the javelin after clearing 95-07.
“She got some good attempts and had a good series,” said Johnson.
This week, members of the boys’ team pushed themselves to try out new events, which proved to work in their favor overall.
“We have a lot of kids on the boys’ team,” said Johnson. “We have some depth and we had a few events we didn't have a lot of kids participating in. The way track and field works, the events that are sometimes more difficult to pull off athletically are the ones people don't gravitate toward.”
As an example, Johnson said every track coach has a hard time getting kids to do the high hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. “The high hurdles for the boys are 39 inches; that's tough to navigate, especially if you’re not tall. And then the 300 hurdles — it’s just really grueling. So, it’s hard to get kids to do those things.”
In addition to the increased difficulty of certain events such as hurdles, some of the events stand out for the reason that they require specialized techniques that would otherwise not be learned naturally by an athlete in any other sport.
“The triple jump is not anything you do on the playground when you’re a little kid,” noted Johnson. “Everybody runs and jumps — like the long jump — and everybody throws things. But the triple jump is something that you don’t really do athletically.”
On Monday, Johnson spoke with the boys team about how it has a chance to be competitive enough to win the district championship. But to do that requires an all-hands-on-deck type of approach, with athletes doing events that wouldn’t normally do.
“Coach Ulrich, Coach Perry and I just said, ‘We’ve won league championships before, and we’ll win again. But this is your guys’ only chance and, if we’re going to win, it’s going to take people to volunteer to do things that are outside their comfort zone.’”
Triple jump was one such event that the Vikings had nobody compete in prior to Tuesday; however, the league currently has no standout athletes in this competition.
“So, we challenged the boys [and said], ‘You need to learn how to triple jump today, let’s go!’” explained Johnson. “Six boys did it, and Camp Lacouture jumped first place with a 37-11, and James Smith got third jumping 35-01. That’s from never doing it before, trying it one day and the next day coming into the meet and attempting it.
“Little things like that make us way more competitive as a team, so hats off to the guys that tried.”
Rhys Fleming, Liam McClellan, Owen Garneau and Talin Loomis were among the other athletes who competed in the triple jump to help their team set new records, each coming away with a PR. Meanwhile, Lucian Murphy competed in the 110HH and the 300-meter hurdles, setting a PR for the 110HH at 21.79a.
“Coaches have a vision,” said Johnson, “and sometimes it’s hard to get 15-year-old kids to understand what that vision is. But on Tuesday, we definitely felt like the boys were dialed into the process and were willing to do what they could do to make us more competitive. It was a great day.”
Also setting PRs and placing first for the boys were Jaxson Jensen in the 400 meters (54.86a) and Samuel Ulrich in the 1500 meters (4:20.16a)
On the track, the girls had some very notable performances as well. Brea Blankenship won the 1500 Meters with a time of 5:07.73.
“Brea had a great meet,” said Johnson. “It’s such a short season and with COVID restrictions. We’re used to going to these meets with 25 teams, but now we’re going to meets with three teams. And for distance runners, there’s a short window of time when they’re fit enough to run fast.”
But as Johnson pointed out, many are coming off of a state championship cross country season rather than basketball — so they're in great shape. Still, to transition from a 5K to an 800-meter run is not easy.
“We haven’t done a ton of 800-meters specific work yet, which it’s Brea’s specialty. So, she jumped into the 1500 with really nobody else to run with — and she just ran lights out.”
In addition to Blankenship, Gracie Freudenthal took first in the 400-meter race with a PR of 1:04.54a, and Rylee Colton took second in the 800 meters.
The girls also took first place in the 4x400 relay, with Blankenship, Colton, Jane Lacouture and Freudenthal finishing with a time of 4:35.66a.
The Vikings held the Sky-Em League Showcase meet at home on yesterday (After press deadlines). Their next meet is Tuesday (May 4) at Newport High School, where they will compete against Newport and Philomath starting at 3:30 p.m.