Eagles take fast track to the finish

Rodriguez breaks 27-year school record as HRV track and field chases CRC titles

In a format that rewards saving the best for last, Hood River Valley High School track and field athletes are preparing for what is essentially the only contest that really matters since the beginning of the season.

The Columbia River Conference championship meet is set for Friday and Saturday of this week (at HRVHS) and is the sole determiner of who advances to the state meet – the top two in each event — and who is done for the season – everyone else.

As a good measure of how results will shake out later this week, the Eagles traveled to Hermiston last Friday for the annual Last Chance Meet between all four CRC teams. With 100-degree temperatures and no place to hide, athletes battled the heat and their biggest league rivals to jockey for confidence and mental positioning going into the biggest meet of the season.

“It was a great final tune up for us, despite the heat,” Coach Donnie Herniesen commented. “Many kids were running some events they won’t be doing at the District Championships this week, and many of our younger kids put up some big marks to get them into the District Meet for us. This meet also gives us our final clue as to what some of the athletes from other schools will be competing in at Districts. Everyone is trying to get as many athletes as they can to qualify for Eugene, so this is the first move in the chess match.”

Columbia River Conference meet

HRVHS hosts the 2013 CRC championships May 17-18. Prelims Friday start at 3:30 p.m., Saturday’s events will run from 11 a.m. to about 4 p.m. The top two in each event qualify for the state meet in Eugene.

As a sign of exciting things to come, one school record was broken and another was tied at the meet. For sprinter Cesar Rodriguez, his first-place 100 meter dash time of 11.0 broke the longstanding record of 11.04 sent by Jack Tomlinson in 1986. Rodriguez, Wyatt Webber, Parker Kennedy and Parker Irusta also tied the boys’ 4x100 meter relay record of 43.62 set in 2011. Both marks are the highest set in the conference this season and, for the relay team, is tied for the top time in the state.

“With six school-record breaking performances already, we very excited about what the end of the season will bring,” Herniesen said. “The HRV coaching staff is extremely proud of how well our team has competed and battled through adversity this season.”

Other event winners Friday were Jestena Mattson in the 200 meters, Anna Schlosser in the 400 meters, Lydia Gildehaus in the 800 meters, Parker Irusta in the 400 meters Ricardo Castillo in the 3,000 meters, the boys 4x400 team (Irusta, Kennedy, Webber, Rodriguez) and Patrick Crompton in the pole vault. From the looks of the other events, the Eagles will have to battle hard against Hermiston for many of the state positions.

“While Hermiston seems to have a pretty tight grip on the team titles on both sides, we have some epic battles brewing in the individual events which will make this a very exciting track meet to watch,” Herniesen said.

Among the many battles to watch will be Rodriguez and Pendleton’s Jacob Rickman in the 100-meter dash. The two have battled back and forth all year, with Rickman winning early and Rodriguez posting the faster times in the last two match-ups, but just barely. Expect a tight race in the same event on the girls side, between HRV’s defending state champion, sophomore Jestena Mattson, and Hermiston’s standout freshman Jansen Edmiston. Edmiston has the fastest season time, but Mattson hasn’t lost a 100-meter contest this year, including her only head-to-head matchup with Edmiston earlier this season.

“In the distance races, look for HRV senior Lydia Gildehaus to throw down with Hermiston’s Katie Markwick in the 800 run, as well as with Maggie Coleman, also from Hermiston, in the 1500m,” Herniesen added. “Both races will be won in the final meters. In the boy’s throws, HRV’s senior school record holder Eli Fults looks to repeat as CRC Champion in the shot put in a match up with The Dalles’ Lio Tunai, while in the discus HRV freshman (and also school record holder) Sebastian Barajas will also go throw-for-throw with Hermiston’s David Barnett, as well as Tunai. The CRC currently has four of the top six discus throwers in the 5A division in all of Oregon, but only two will make it to Eugene.”

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