OíReilly, Howes lead locals to Eugene charge
EUGENE — The road to a state title started in Union County at the district meet.
For some, it is a return trip to defend a title won a year ago.
For Stephen Howes of Elgin, he is only three inches away from a state title.
The junior set a new personal best of 12 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault when he won the Blue Mountain Conference title Saturday. He is three inches below two others who have cleared 12-6.
But Howes said he already plans to set a new personal record in Eugene.
He isn’t the only one of the Huskies with that plan. Stormy Silver settled for silver Saturday when she placed second in the high jump after clearing 5 feet. That is one inch less that her own personal best and she wants to improve that at Eugene.
For Elgin’s Theresa Smolkowski, just making it to the state meet is a relief after taking a spill midway through the 100-meter hurdles Saturday. She came back in the 300-meter hurdles to earn a state berth.
In addition, Aria Higgins and the 1,600-meter relay team will also be looking for a place on the medal platform at Hayward Field.
On the Union side of the equation, Katriel O’Reilly is in familiar territory — running in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters at state. She will be joined by her running mate, McKenzie Evans.
The pair of Union runners have the fastest 2A times in both events. O’Reilly also has the fastest 800 meters time.
“Katriel set the BMC District meet record in the 1,500 and both ran very smart. These girls are my rocks. They always come to race,” said Union track coach Jay Blackburn.
The Bobcats put a dozen athletes into the state meet.
“We had a good day at the district track meet,” he said.
In addition, the Bobcats got strong performances and tickets to Eugene from freshmen Trevor Verhelst and Brooke Scantling, sophomore Stormy Bullard in the high jump and senior Elena Baird in the 800 meters. Blackburn was impressed by Baird and her dedication.
Verhelst is making a run for the 2A fastest sprinter.
Enterprise will be going to the state meet loaded after the boys team dominated the district cmeet.
The Outlaws will battle for medals in both boys relay teams, while Alex Tyler, Austin Burns and David Ribich go after their own medals on the track.
Falk Thieme is in both the long and high jumps.
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