Lady Outlaws are district champs
Last updated 6/6/2023 at 2:19pm
The Outlaws girls track team scored in 16 of 17 events to rack up 137.5 points on the way to clinching a 3A Special District 4 Championship at Siuslaw High School May 18-19.
In addition, the Outlaws will be sending athletes in nine events to the OSAA 3A State Championships set for May 25-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene.
Athletes qualify for State by finishing in the top two or meeting a qualifying standard. In addition, one "wild card" entry is added for each event based on the best third-place mark among all district meets.
On the first day of competition, Gracie Vohs notched the first district title for the Outlaws on her way to winning the high jump at 4 feet 10-inches. Kathryn Buller joined her on the podium in third place.
Mae Roth punched her ticket to State with a second-place finish in the pole vault (8 feet-11 inches), while teammates Kiara Martin and Buller placed fourth and fifth respectively at 8 feet-5 inches.
In the only running final on Thursday, Ella Bartlett raced to a huge personal best in a very close 3,000 meters and finished second in 10:43.15.
Three Outlaw girls scored in the long jump, led by Lilly Sundstrom who placed fifth (14 feet-10.5 inches). Kathryn Buller (13 feet-10) and Brook Duey (13 feet-7) finished seventh and eighth respectively. Mackenzie French earned a podium spot by placing fifth in the shot put with a toss of 29 feet 1.25 inches.
Coach Jonathan Kelly pointed to the team's camaraderie as a key factor to success. "After a long day of competition on Thursday, we went to the beach and it was heartwarming to take a step back and just watch the entire team have fun with each other playing football, spikeball, dipping their toes in the water, and searching for shells. I think that camaraderie and positivity really helped us this season."
The second day of competition included podium finishes for the Outlaws in every event contested.
Freshman Brooke Duey showed her athleticism by placing second in the triple jump in her very first competition in the event and only missed winning the event by half an inch.
Molly Meyer earned a medal in the discus, placing seventh with a mark of 79 feet-5 inches.
Once the running events began the Outlaws continued to pad their team lead.
The 4x100 team of Delaney McAfee, Ila Reid, Lilly Sundstrom, and Nevaeh McAfee narrowly missed an automatic State qualification with a third-place finish, just .15 seconds out of second place with time of 53.32.
Ella Bartlett completed a strong double in the distance races by meeting the qualifying standard in a fast 1,500 where she placed third in a personal best of 5:02.76.
"Ella's performance cemented her place among the best in the 3A ranks," said Distance Coach Sarah Thorsett. "All the distance kids, girls and boys, gave it their best."
Delaney McAfee ran a personal record in the 100 (13.55) where she finished fifth, while Nevaeh McAfee placed seventh (13.79).
Gracie Vohs needed every inch of the 400 meters to claim the district title in the 400 meters, setting a new personal best to win by .09 seconds in 1:01.21 over Dakota Hyland of Pleasant Hill.
The next event produced another district champion for the Outlaws as Lilly Sundstrom blasted to a new personal best of 16.66 seconds in the 100 hurdles. Just over an hour later she picked up a second title in the 300 hurdles as she and Duey battled for the top spot. Sundstrom prevailed in 48.51 seconds, while Duey crossed in 49.70, both earning a trip to State in the event.
Freshman Teagen Welsh placed sixth in the 100 hurdles in 19.56.
Hurdles coach Dennis Dempsey says he couldn't have asked more from the girls hurdlers. "The kids all did an outstanding job advancing out of the prelims and then performed tremendously well when time came for the finals. Lilly is certainly peaking at the right time.
Danish exchange student Freja Pedersen picked up points for the team with a seventh-place finish in the 800 (2:47.12), a day after setting a big personal best (2:42) to make the final.
"It was special for Freja to make the final because her parents arrived from Denmark in time to watch her on Friday," said Kelly.
The only hiccup in the Outlaws' march to the district title came in the 200 meters when Vohs, the top qualifier, false started and was disqualified.
Redemption came in the 4x400 relay as Vohs anchored the winning team of Delaney McAfee, Reid, and Duey with a time of 4:17.22.
To top off the day for the Outlaw girls, Sundstrom was named the female Track Athlete of the Meet at the awards ceremony.
The Outlaws' 137.5 points easily outdistanced runner-up Siuslaw (94) for the team title. Other scores included Elmira (85), Sutherlin (84.5), Pleasant Hill (84), Creswell (77), La Pine (73), and Glide (24).
Coach Jonathan Kelly said, "Our girls team have had a lot of fun this season, and they really showed up at the district meet, led by our juniors and seniors. After the first day of competition I was a bit nervous, as we didn't score as many points as expected in the long jump, but we ended up qualifying more sprinters than expected for finals and made up the difference there."
The OSAA 1A/2A/3A Championships take place May 25-26, while the 4A/5A/6A Championships are May 26 and 27, all at Hayward Field. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.osaa.org/shop/tickets.