BADGERS AIM FOR 5
By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
Bold prediction: the Powder Valley Badgers will win the state title Saturday at the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 1A State Boys Track and Field Championships.
If Powder Valley doesnt match Wallowas record of five straight 1A titles, then something seriously will have gone wrong. This years state team has 14 individual or relay state titles from previous seasons, including seven earned last year.
Expect about that many again this year.
This is the strongest team weve ever had, and this is the strongest team in 1A history for a state team, Powder Valley coach Doug Lewis said.
Weve got kids qualified in 13 (of 17) events. Even for a 2A, 3A or 4A school, you normally dont get that many kids in that many events.
The state champions include Lewiss son, Stephen, who has won the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs two years in a row. As a freshman, Stephen finished second to older brother Jason in those two races.
Junior Brody Turner won the 400 and 800 last year, as well as the 800 in 1999. Senior Jeremy Maddox was second to Turner in the 400 last year and won the 300 intermediate hurdles title in 1999. Senior Eli Bingham won the pole vault title a year ago and was second in 1999 after taking eighth in 1998.
Not only do the Badgers win, but they break records. At the District 4-1A meet a week ago in La Grande, the 4x400 relay team set an all-time Class 1A record in winning in 3 minutes, 26.27 seconds. Bingham went 13-9 in the pole vault, another all-time 1A best. And Zach Culver hit 6-41/4 in the high jump, breaking the school record.
Some of these kids, two or three of them, probably wont have tremendous competition down there, Doug Lewis said.
Maddoxs time in the 300 hurdles, 40.81, is more than two seconds faster than his nearest competitor.
Jeremy in the hurdles is way ahead of the competition, Doug Lewis said. Hes faster than the 2A guys, and hes faster than some of the 3A guys.
Turner is seeded first in the 400 and 800, but has a 11/2-second edge in the longer race.
Id be really shocked if he was upset by any means, the coach said.
Stephen Lewis is the only senior in the 1,500 and is seeded seventh, but a slow race at district kept his time down.
That isnt saying that someone cant step up and have a great day, Doug Lewis said. Competition sometimes brings out the best in some people. We really think therell be kids who step up.
The coach is careful to emphasize that experience and confidence do not equate cockiness.
Be graceful in defeat. You dont have to be cocky. When you win you can be excited, he said. I enjoy watching a lot of kids, not just my own. I enjoy watching great performances; thats what the state meet is all about.