The Athletics East Running Club made program history last weekend at the USATF State Championships held at Western Oregon University, with the girls claiming their first-ever first-place trophy while the boys clinched second place.
Because of their top-5 finishes, all Athletics East runners qualified for regionals, as a team and individually. Regionals took place Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.
“It was an excellent run for each and every athlete,” AE head coach Angela Hanson said. “At this level, as always, the competition is fierce and after so many strong performances on the state level, regionals will be very exciting. We’re ready.”
In order to advance, runners needed to place within the top-35 as an individual, and the top-5 teams in the standings advance.
The girls had six of their runners finish within the top-6, led by Jordyn Murphy (Pendleton), who claimed runner-up status following a time of 21 minutes and 28 seconds.
Right behind Murphy with a third-place mark of 21:36 was Emily Johnson (The Dalles). Kallyn Wilkins (Condon) picked up fourth in 22:03, Caitie Wring (The Dalles) added a 22:43 to secure fifth, Kylie Boor (Heppner) wound up sixth with a time of 23:07, and Hannah Finch (Heppner) timed out in 26:12 for a top-15 outcome.
Those times and places paved the way for a combined team score of 36, placing first for AE’s first state trophy.
Racing in the 15-to-16-year-old boys classification were Juan Diego Contreras, Joseph Sherman and Spencer Coburn, with Contreras (The Dalles) showing his mettle to score third place after his solid mark of 16:41.
Sherman (Heppner) chalked up seventh place with his 18:01, and Coburn (The Dalles) crossed the finish line ninth overall in a respectable 18:56.
In the 17-to-18-year-old division, AE veteran Friedrich Stelzer (Dufur) raced to a third-place outcome at 16:52, teammate Sisay Hurty (Stanfield) placed fourth in 17:23, and Rafael Orozco (Stanfield) was good for sixth place with his 18:30.
The AE boys tallied 39 points to grab second place, just six points off first place.
Out of 78 11-to-12-year-old girls, Lily Nichols (Heppner) earned 29th place with her run of 12:45, clinching her bid for regionals, while the 13-to-14-year-old boys had Trevor Nichols (Heppner) and Andrew Wring (The Dalles) making their marks.
Trevor Nichols had the best time of 14:03 to take eighth place, which vaulted him to a regionals qualification, and Wring wound up with a 20:01 in his first try making the switch from a 3k distance to 4k.
At last year’s USATF Junior Olympic Regional Meet in Yakima, Wash., five individuals qualified for nationals and the five-person boys’ 15-18-year-old squad claimed a win.
Six athletes end up in the top-20, as the top-30 individuals and the top-5 teams moved their way into the Junior Olympic Nationals.
“They have worked so hard for this,” Hanson said. “I know our AE athletes will look to make the bid for a chance at the national stage.”