Hidle, Paul perform great, blaze to state

GRESHAM — All season long, it appeared that Anna Hidle was holding something back.

The HRV sophomore knew she had what it would take to win the 400-meter district championship, but she seemed to be waiting for something — or perhaps someone — to push her.

Hidle was also confident she could crack the one-minute plateau and catch No. 1 seed Ashley Quay of David Douglas in Wednesday’s district final at Mt. Hood Community College.

And if the track were about one yard longer, she may just have.

But despite smashing her personal record and making up 20 yards on Quay down the final stretch, Hidle was forced to settle for second place by a scant 13 hundredths of a second.

“That was the race of my life,” said Hidle, whose time of 60.17 seconds also earned her a berth in the state meet May 24-26 in Eugene.

“Hopefully it won’t be (my best race) once state rolls around. I’ve got one more chance to catch Quay,” she said.

Hidle also qualified for state in the high jump with a personal-best jump of 5 feet, 2 inches. But the highlight of the night was watching her make up 50-plus yards in the final stretch of the 400.

Although Quay burst out to a big early lead, Hidle paced herself well and began to separate herself from the pack shortly after the 200-meter mark. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she matched Quay stride for stride, and almost wrestled away the blue ribbon.

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Hidle will be joined at state by junior distance runner Christy Paul, who won district titles in both of her two events, the 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

Neither race was close, as Paul seized the pole position from the start and never looked back.

“What I usually try to do is start fast and keep it fast,” said Paul, the 2001 state cross-country champion who set team and personal records in both events at district (10:10 in the 3,000; 4:45.77 in the 1,500).

“It’s nice to win both races, but I was much happier after the 3,000. That was a huge PR for me, and I feel like I have some unfinished business in that event,” she said.

Paul entered the 2001 state track meet as the favorite in the 3,000, but fell off her pace and wound up taking second place. She said she is more focused this year, but also realizes that all she can do is focus on herself.

“I try not to pay too much attention to the other names in the competition,” she said. “It can make you really nervous if you think about everyone who’s there. I’m just going to focus on my own races and try to stay confident.”

Two more HRV athletes hoping to cruise to state this year were seniors Nate Armerding and Scott Becker. But although both turned in spirited performances at district, they will have to wait until the college track season to compete again.

“My goal this year was to qualify for state,” said Armerding, whose vault of 13 feet, 6 inches earned him a third-place district finish but fell short of the 14’6” state qualifying height. “It’s been a great run, though. And I’ve had fun watching my teammates improve.”

Armerding, who will compete in track and basketball at Wheaton College in Illinois next year, said he was happy with a third-place finish, but really wanted to surpass the 13’6” PR he set earlier this season.

“Coach (Shawn) Meyle and I have worked really hard the past couple seasons and, in my mind, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be a 15-foot vaulter. I guess I needed to spend even more time with it,” he said.

Becker came into the district meet with the same high expectations for himself, although he was focused on reaching new heights in the 3,000 and 1,500 meter races.

The senior cross-country star was confident that he hadn’t yet reached the standards he set in the fal,l and sought to prove it at district.

Seeded close to No. 30 in his best event, the 3,000, Becker was considered a long shot to place in the top eight. But he showed no fear and surged to a sixth-place finish, beating his PR by nearly 40 seconds at 9:20.59.

“I felt awesome for the 3,000,” said Becker, who is pondering a college running career somewhere in Oregon. “I had a great workout five days before and plenty of recovery time. As a senior, that’s not a bad way to go out. I’d say it was a good day.”

Becker didn’t finish as well in the 1,500, but was more concerned with his performance in the 3,000. Freshman teammate Alex Jimenez also ran in the finals of the 1,500 and 3,000, and set PR’s in both events (4:27.93 in the 1,500; 9:41.71 in the 3,000).

Another HRV senior, Lindsay Benjamin, catapulted her way into eighth place and tied a PR in the pole vault with a jump of 8 feet.

“Of all my events, this was the one I least expected to place,” she said. “It was kind of a nice surprise for me.”

Fellow seniors Mickie Halliday and Meghan Merz were also able to place in their final district meets. Halliday won seventh in the triple jump (32’01”), while Merz took sixth in discus (107’10”).

Junior Eric Avila rounded out the individual highlights with a fifth-place finish in the 400 meters (52.60).

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