News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Outlaws girls track fourth at state

Up and downs, surprises, and close calls marked the two days of competition for the Sisters girls and boys at the OSAA State 3A Championships held May 16-17 at Hayward Field in Eugene.

When all was said and done, the girls had a fourth place team trophy to bring home for their efforts.

Day one of the competition on Thursday began with two Outlaws in the high jump, senior Gracie Vohs and freshman Althea Crabtree. Vohs entered the competition with the second-best season mark among 3A athletes at 5-feet-2-inches, while Crabtree owned a best of five feet even, putting both in a good position to get points on the scoreboard.

As things turned out, nearly all the entries struggled, and once the bar got to 4 feet 10.5 inches, only three jumpers remained, including Crabtree who ultimately cleared 4 feet 11.75 inches to place third. Vohs had to settle for a four-way tie for fifth place, but the Outlaws were on the board.

Ella Bartlett put together her best strategic race of the season and picked up five points with her fourth place finish in the 3,000 in a time of 11:03.32. Freshman Audrey Corcoran picked up a point for the team by placing eighth in the long jump with a mark of 15 feet 6.25 inches on a day that also included her qualifying for the finals in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

Vohs also navigated the prelims successfully, making the finals in both the 200 and 400 meters. Freshman Josie Ryan squeaked into the finals in the 800 meters as well with a time of 2:27.62, nearly equaling her best ever.

Crabtree missed making the finals in the 100 hurdles by the narrowest of margins - just .02 seconds - with a time of 17.00.

On Friday the two pole vaulters for the Outlaws, Katie Buller and Crabtree struggled a bit. Buller, with a personal best of 9 feet 9 inches earlier in the season, eventually cleared 8 feet 4 inches to place eighth, while Crabtree, with a season best of 9 feet .5 inch didn't clear a height. Regan Krantz of Coquille won the event by clearing a lifetime best of 11 feet 7 inches.

The rest of the day belonged to running events and the Outlaws started to rack up points right away.

Ella Bartlett picked up two in the 1,500 with a season best time of 5:03.47 for seventh place. Corcoran then came up with a stellar performance in the 100 meters, finishing third in 12.63 for six team points.

Gracie Vohs stepped to the line in the 400 meters as the defending state champion knowing that Sam Shepard of Westside Christian had been dominating the event all season with three races under 58 seconds, while Vohs had yet to break the minute mark. From the gun Shepard took command, but Vohs ran her own race and produced a lifetime best of 59.82 seconds to finish second, giving the Outlaws eight more points. Shepard clocked 57.82 for the win.

In the 800 Josie Ryan picked up a point with her eighth place finish in 2:35.91.

The 200 meters put the newcomer Corcoran up against the state leader, Ella Bulkley of Catlin Gabel, but the freshman was undaunted, pushing Bulkley all the way to the finish. Bulkley won the race in 25.46 to Corcoran's 25.86, a personal record.

Vohs finished ninth in the race in 26.83.

By the time the 4x400 meter relay was set to begin, the Outlaws had secured a top-four finish in the team race, so a trophy was certain. The Outlaws trailed Banks 43-40 for third place, meaning to move into third, Sisters would need to win the race and Banks finish third or lower. As the defending state champions the Outlaws had a lot to run for.

The race was a barn-burner from the outset as Josie Ryan led off for the team and came through to the hand-off in sixth place. Brooke Duey ran a blazing second leg putting the Outlaws back into contention entering the third leg, where Corcoran awaited. The speedy frosh did her job to perfection and the Outlaws were neck and neck with Banks and well ahead of the other teams, setting up the anchor leg between Vohs and 800-meter champion Sophie Schoolmeester. Vohs gained a short lead through the first half of the race and held off Schoolmeester through most of the final corner. The Banks sophomore, who also won the 1500, pulled away to secure the win for the Braves in 4:05.26. The Outlaws finished in 4:06.93.

The Outlaws finished with 48 points. Coquille won the meet with a whopping 84.5 points, followed by Catlin Gabel (66) and Banks (53).

Two boys qualified for the state meet as wild cards and both just missed making the podium. Sophomore Reid Woodson made the finals in the triple jump 40 feet .75 inches, which was just two inches shy of a medal. John Berg competing in the 400 ran 53.10, the ninth best time in the prelims.

Head coach Jonathan Kelly, in his second year at the helm, said, "I'm really proud of our girls - finishing fourth with only 8 girls is quite a feat.

"I'm also really excited that Audrey, Althea, Josie, and Devon (Stevens) got to go to the state meet as freshmen - that'll be an invaluable experience for them the next three years."

He added some final thoughts about the seniors on the team. "It's given me a lot of joy to coach this group, especially the senior girls," he said. "I'm really going to miss them. Ella raced well for place in both of her distance events. Katie vaulted well and has had such a wonderful season. I'm excited for both of them to continue their track careers next year. Gracie had a great finish in the 400, and I think it speaks to her experience that she finished second in the final despite three or four other girls running faster times in the prelims."

He concluded, "All of our seniors this season have such a knack for mentorship and strike a great balance between staying focused in order to rise to the occasion and race well while having fun along the way. If the 4x400 was based on how much the team laughed while getting ready, we would have won easily."


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