Imblerís Angela Stafford was running with the leaders early in Saturdayís 3,000-meter race. (BRAD MOSHER/The Observer)
by BRAD MOSHER / The Observer
ELGIN — Angela Stafford will have a chance to run with a different crowd Thursday evening on the Elgin High School track.
It could mean a faster time with more competition than she has seen all season.
She spent most of Saturday’s race alone, more than a minute ahead of Irrigon’s Isabel Orozco, when the two girls were included in the boys 3,000-meter race during the Elgin Invitational.
For the second straight meet, she was running the 3,000 meters against only one other girl.
She stayed with the lead pack for almost two laps, before she dropped off the pace.
The Imbler senior may have more than enough company at the annual ICUE track meet Thursday when she faces runners from Union, Enterprise, Cove, Pilot Rock, Weston-McEwen and La Grande.
In the 3,000 meters, Stafford has won the event at the Condon/Wheeler and Elgin invitationals.
But her best time of 12 minutes 49.40 seconds this season may not be enough to keep her string of invitational titles intact.
In fact, her personal best of 12:10.80 she set as a junior in the 2012 state 1A championship meet may not be enough.
Union’s biggest strength with the girls team is in the distances, with Katriel O’Reilly and McKenzie Evans usually providing a strong one-two punch.
O’Reilly won the 2A Oregon title in both the 1,500 meters (4:55.97) and the 3,000 meters (10:39.63) last season. Evans has a 3,000-meter best of 11:14.81 she ran this year at the Sandy Invitational against runners from much larger schools. Her third-place time was an improvement over the time she ran when she took second to her teammate in the 2012 state championship meet.
With runners from La Grande in the mix Thursday, that means Amanda Welch and Rose Winters might also be in the field. Winters took second in the La Grande Invitational earlier this season to O’Reilly. Winters’ time of 12:17.15 in the race is still slower than the 11:45.81 she ran when she took 13th in the state meet last season. Her fastest time this year was in the Kiwanis invitational last weekend in Hermiston (12:04.15).
Welch has run 12:06.60 this season, winning the Oregon Trail Invitational in Vale earlier their month. But the sophomore has a best of 10:37.22 when she placed second in the 4A 3,000 meters at the state meet.
Cove has Hannah and Sarah Brazil providing distance strength for the Leopards. The two sisters are part of the state champion Union/Cove cross country team in the fall, then separate for track.
Hannah, a junior, has a best time this year of 12:34.80 but her personal best is still her sixth-place finish at the state meet in 12:03.81. Sarah Brazil, a freshman, has already ran a 12:57.80 this year.
Joseph’s Linzey VanDoozer raced at Elgin Saturday, winning the 800 meters in 2:38.32, right in front of Stafford. The day before the Elgin meet, the senior ran a 12:30.20 in a victory at the River’s Edge invitational meet in Umatilla.
Enterprise track coach Don Moody has a pair of 3,000-meter runners he might also throw into the mix Thursday. Senior Hannah Graf ran a 12:43.08 while finishing second in the event at the Dick Horyna invitational meet, while Dawn Mist Movich-Fields was third in the same race with a time of 12:49.95.
Most of the runners will be focusing on getting their best times as the schools prepare for the district meets.
For the 2A schools like Union, Enterprise and Elgin, the district championships will be May 17, the same day as 1A schools Joseph, Cove and Imbler at the District 4 meet at Baker High School.
Distance not only battle at ICUE
Powder Valley’s Amy Eubanks has the best time among District 4 athletes in the 100-meter hurdles (17.64 seconds), but Imbler’s Emma Bowers is close behind with a best of 18.12 this season.
In the 800 meters, VanDoozer has the top district mark of a 2:38.40, while Cove’s Hannah Brazil and Kendra Hackwith are third and fourth on the district list.
Cove has the advantage in the girls 400 meter relay, with Molly DelCurto, Dani Noble, Josey Koehn and Morgan Reddington having the fastest foursome in the district with a 54.27 time.
Reddington tops the district list in the sprints with this year’s edition of the “Cove Comet” having the best times in the 100 meters (13.44), 200 meters (27.94) and 400 meters (66.84). She also has the best District 4 mark in the long jump (16 feet 1 inch).
Bowers of Imbler has the top district mark in the triple jump (32-10), while also being tied for third in the 100 meters.