GRESHAM – Surviving a torrential downpour for most of the weekend, The Dalles senior Reed Twidwell didn’t worry about his times or where he placed, he savored his final days as a Riverhawk with his track and field teammates.
Twidwell, Justin Conklin and Emma Mullins each had podium efforts in their final campaigns, and the girls long relay and Steven Stanley also earned top-8 status for podium trips at the 5A OSAA State Track and Field Championships this past weekend at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham.
“It was an insane experience,” Twidwell said of the rainy weather. “We had this downpour for seven of the nine hours we were here today (Saturday), so running in soaking wet clothes made it that much better. To end my senior year, I get to run with my friends, my family and I get to pour all my heart into this. The experience was just amazing today. It was very fun, and I am glad we had the chance to share this together.”
As a senior veteran in her final state appearance, Mullins reeled off a first-place time of two minutes and 19.85 seconds in her 800-meter preliminary race, a personal record.
In the finals, the district champion timed out in 2:20.79 for third place, tied for her second-best mark of her illustrious career. She wraps up her high school marks as the third-rank 5A runner.
Not only did Mullins earn a state spot in the 800, she joined Liz Tapia, Jenna Miller and Elena Cardosi for the 4x400-mter relay event and the quartet hit for a season-best 4:14.60 for eighth place, nearly three seconds better than the time they put up at Ward Rhoden Field in Prineville during Intermountain Conference District action on May 18 (4:17.06).
Mullins, who was the district long jump runner-up (15-7.25), ended up 13th overall with her distance of 14-3.75.
“I am happy for everyone on this team who made it to state, especially Emma, because she put so much work into it,” fellow senior Kristine Carter said. “I think for all of us seniors, we wanted to finish the best way possible, regardless of the rain or the conditions. From the first day of practice, we all set our goals and worked hard to achieve them, so there is nothing more rewarding than to see it all pay off the way it did.”
Carter racked up 20 top-5 outcomes in five different events in her first season as a senior, including six victories and three seconds.
She was part of the 4x100-meter relay team with Miller, Cardosi and Adams.
At the IMC meet a week ago, that group had a final second-place tally of 50.78 and turned in a 51.39 at state for 10th place.
“This season has been so amazing. I can’t put it into words,” Carter said. “These girls have been supportive and positive all year and they inspired me to be the best athlete I could possibly be. Words can’t even express the impact they all have made in my life and I will be forever thankful for what they have done to inspire me as not only an athlete, but as a person.”
In addition to her efforts in the 4x400-meter relay, Tapia had a time of 1:03.82 in the 400, which was good for 12th place in the preliminary round.
Last week, the junior clinched a personal-record in the 400 at 1:01.71 and ended up with five top-4 400-meter placings in eight track meets.
On May 9, Adams picked up a personal record of 16-4.5 in the long jump and followed that up with a 15-10 at districts, before wrapping up her season at state with a 15-0 to net 12th place.
The sophomore had personal records in the 100 (13.24), 200 (27.97), long jump and was vital to the short relay team’s top numbers.
Another first-time qualifier, senior Ellie Codding, made her mark in the field events, picking up her first-ever state bid in the shotput after a personal-best 36-6 at districts.
Facing wet conditions, Codding’s best state toss measured at 34-6.25, which placed her ninth.
“The biggest differences this year has been the team here has been much closer, and I have a great coach (Neticia Fanene),” Codding said. “When you have great teammates pushing you, the best comes out. I think getting to state and making it to the finals was a great way to end my high school career, so I am happy.”
Conklin grew up watching his brother Luke and sister Katie in middle school/high school track and had his first state experience at Hayward Field, while in the third grade when Luke was competing in the original IMC against the larger Bend schools and Hermiston.
Luke went to state in his sophomore year in the high jump and javelin, then returned as a junior in the high jump and again as a senior in the high jump and javelin.
Then he watched his sister Katie go to state as a sophomore in the triple jump, as a junior in the high jump, triple jump and 100-meter hurdles, before finishing her career with a trip to state in those same three events.
He knew there were some big shoes to fill.
“Seeing them compete with the top athletes and being on the medal stand was something I wanted to be a part of,” Justin said. “Luke and Katie showed me that you could make it to the state meet if you worked hard and stayed committed to your events. I also watched each of them continue their track career after earning track scholarships at NNU (Northwest Nazarene University. That made me realize that a scholarship was important, because college is so costly, and track provided that financial aspect to afford it.”
As a sophomore, Conklin qualified in the 110-meter hurdles, where he had a final time of 16.35 seconds to lock down 10th place in the preliminaries.
Last year as a junior, Conklin set a personal record of 15.10 in the 110-meter hurdles for second place and he turned in a height of 6-1 in the high jump to qualify in two events.
At state, the senior was fourth in the 110-meter hurdle preliminaries after his 15.62, and notched third place with a mark of 15.22 in the finals.
This year, Conklin moved to state in the high jump, where he posted a height of 6-1 to score third place.
While the hurdles proved to be a big challenge over the years, Justin Conklin credited middle school coach Tim McClure for helping him in the high jump.
Justin now sets his sights on Concordia University, where he will run the 110-meter hurdles and high jump on a scholarship.
“I look forward to being on a team that has a high level of skilled athletes and competing at the DII level,” Justin said. “Ultimately, my goal is to finish with a degree, and being able to do track along the way is a bonus.”
Samuel Alvarez had his opportunity to shine at state in two events, the 1,500 and 3,000, and he put in respectable marks amongst his peers.
In the 1,500, the junior had a personal-best 4:14.63 and the two-time district champion added a season-best 9:07.98 for his efforts in the 3,000.
The way his current trajectory is headed, the 2020 season could be set up for great things ahead.
“This year was good for me I guess,” Alvarez said. “It was a lot more competitive than it was last year, league and state-wise. It taught me a lot about myself, how much I need to improve and how I need to push myself to new levels. Going up against guys who are nationally ranked teaches you a lot. It makes me want to get faster to keep up with them. It was exciting to be out here, and I know my best times are coming.”
Two first-time qualifiers, Steven Stanley and Taylor Morehouse, competed in the pole vault, with both putting up heights of 12-6, which for Morehouse was a personal best.
Stanley wound up in seventh place, while Morehouse, a freshman, claimed 10th in the final standings.
Twidwell did not make it past the 100-meter preliminaries (11.51, for ninth place), but wound up sixth in the 200-meter preliminaries (22.87) and tacked on a final mark of 23.09 to chalk up sixth in the 200.
The senior matched forces with Jack Bonham, Denver Neill and Noah Holloran for a season-best 3:31.95 for 10th place in the 4x400-meter relay.
Twidwell and Bonham are graduating, but Twidwell knows there are talented runners ready to step in and keep the relay groups in contention over the next few seasons.
“We are just getting started in The Dalles,” Twidwell said. “We are only going up from here. We have freshmen coming in and kids after that who are looking up to all of us seniors and juniors that are here bringing back great things in The Dalles.
“Hopefully, we have kids coming up that will be willing to do what is necessary to win state,” Twidwell added.
Bonham has participated in multiple sports as a Riverhawk and he is hopeful that every program establishes a winning culture.
It is about total buy-in, work ethic and creating a family bond that will take them to the highest level.
“As a team, we all just bonded so well. Whether it was seniors or freshmen, everyone welcomed each other with open arms,” Bonham said. “When you feel included, you have that drive to invest yourself into everyone else’s success.
“We know how much work goes into this sport and how tough it can be at times.
“If you win or finish last, this team is going to pick you up and encourage you to come back even stronger. That right there is a lesson that is more than just sports.”