LA GRANDE’S ROBBIE SMITH (above) won the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.81 Saturday at the Pepsi Invitational in Union. Smith also won the 100 meters with a time of 11.22, his fastest time of the season. The Tigers won the team title with a total of 144 points. BRAD MOSHER / The Observer
UNION — Robbie Smith led his La Grande teammates to a sweep of the top three places in the 110-meter hurdles Saturday and helped lead his team to a victory in the boys division of the sixth annual Pepsi Invitational.
Smith won the 100 meters in 11.22, his fastest time of the season, but made the biggest impact by leading Noah Sofe and Jobin Reed to a sweep in the hurdles.
Smith was clocked in 15.81, while Sofe was second in 16.80 and Reed was third with a 17.73 time.
La Grande won the team competition by a large margin over Greater Oregon League rival McLoughlin as the two large school teams dominated the invitational.
The Tigers finished with 144 points, while McLoughlin was second with 98 points and Enterprise followed in third (73.25 points).
Baker followed in fourth with 69 points ahead of Prairie City (61) and Cove (60).
Joseph placed seventh with 47 points while Union had 38 in eighth place.
Rounding out the rest of the 16-team field was Powder Valley (ninth, 21.25 points), Griswold (10th, 15 points), Stanfield (11th, 13 points), Adrian (12th, eight points), Pilot Rock (13th, five points), Imbler (14th, four points), Elgin (15th, 3.5 points) and Harper (16th, two points).
Sofe helped the Tigers, winning the long jump (20-01.5) ahead of teammate Loran Ackerman (19-09.5). Sofe’s mark set a new meet record.
Ackerman also won the triple jump with a 41-10.5 effort. Ackerman is currently ranked fifth among the 4A triplers. Sofe placed second (40-10).
Cullen Hancock won the pole vault with a new meet record jump of 13 feet, while Lucas Staigle of Joseph was second at 12-06.
“I was really hoping we’d come together and have a good showing, and I think they responded,” LHS coach Peter Fry said.
“Cullen has been looking at that mark (13 feet) for three or four weeks now, so that was a breakthrough for him.”
Nathan Dombrosky gave McLoughlin a double win in the sprints by taking the 200 meters in 22.79 and the 400 meters (52.04 seconds) and even got a one-two scoring punch in the 400 with Alberto Rodriguez following right behind.
In the 4x100 meter relay, Dombrosky and Rodriguez paired up with Rick Sandoval and Sergio Alvarez to win the event in 44.87 — just ahead of Cove.
The same Pioneer group would also add a 3:34.57 victory in the 4x400 meter relay.
In the 4x100 meter relay, the Leopard quartet of Hunter Reddington, David DeVore, Luke Bundren and Crayson McBride combined for second with a 45.86 time, in spite of problems with handoffs.
For Cove coach Kevin Buse, it showed a sign of how close the team is to going under 45 seconds in the event.
He told the team that all they had to do is get the handoffs down and they would be right there at 44 seconds.
For Baker, Jorden Osborn won both the discus and the shot put, while distance runner Nic Maczk pulled away to an easy win in the 3,000 meters (9:29.61).
McLoughlin’s Pancho Saldana won a duel in the javelin with a 203-06 effort, while Brady Doty of Prairie City tossed 200-03 for second place.
For Saldana, it was his best throw of the season, his first over 200 feet and the best mark of the 4A division throwers.
It also made him third overall in the state — only four feet behind the state’s top mark.
For Doty, he may have finished second in Union, but he has the fourth best javelin throw in the state — at all levels.
He also has a 20-foot lead over the second-best 1A thrower Justin Larson from Dayville.
Prairie City had two other strong performances, with Cole Hoberg winning the high jump and just missed clearing 6-6. He still leads the 1A leapers with a 6-5 effort.
Bob Heerspring won the 1,500 meters with a 4:20.84 effort, the second-fastest time in the 1A division this season.
For Enterprise, the Outlaws got a pair of thirds from Stefan Quarrey in the shot put and discus.
David Ribich was second in the 1,500 meters (4:21.98) and barely held off Union freshman Ethan Black at the finish line of the 3,000 meters to place third in 10:05.02 by just eight-hundredths of a second.
The LHS girls also won the team title.
A full story on that will come in Tuesday’s edition.