LA GRANDE — The La Grande track team is off to the state championships to contend for high placements against Oregon’s top talent.
The Tigers took second place in the boys and girls team standings at the Greater Oregon League championships, qualifying eight girls and four boys for the 4A OSAA state championships at Hayward Field in Eugene on Friday, May 20. Several athletes come in with high state rankings and will look to make a push at individual and team success.
“At this point in the season, it’s mostly trusting your training,” senior Jarom Huntsman said. “Our coaches have worked with us all year to get us to our peak, which I think has really helped.”
Huntsman is one of four boys set to take part at the state championships — the senior will compete in the 110-meter hurdles, 300-meter hurdles, triple jump and javelin. Huntsman is joined by senior Carter Perry in the 3,000 and 1,500 meters, senior Maxon Huxoll in pole vault and junior Myer Whitmore in the shot put.
On the girls side, freshman Kayle Collman will take the track in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4x100 relay and 4x400 relay. Sophomore Emily Tubbs will double up in distance, running in the 3,000 and 1,500 meters, while freshman Cecilia Villagomez-Edvalson will also compete in the 3,000 — Villagomez-Edvalson will also take the track in the 800 meters and compete in the 4x400 relay. Freshman Kylie Brown will long jump and senior Susanna Durvik will triple jump. Collman, Brown, senior Nicole Zollman, junior Lexi Price, freshman Emma Elithorp and freshman Addison Snyder fill out the 4x100 relay team. Villagomez-Edvalson, Tubbs and Collman are joined by sophomore Kiah Carlson, freshman Elanor Gisi and sophomore Faith Calhoun in the 4x400.
With several athletes competing in multiple events, durability and fatigue can play a role. For Huntsman, keeping a mental and physical balance is key.
“I kind of have to balance it, especially when I’m running back and forth between events,” he said. “I really have to take time to focus on each event right when I’m doing it and then just focus in on the next event.”
For Collman, competing in several events in a new environment will be a challenge that La Grande is able to overcome after a full season of training.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking and a new environment, but I feel like we just need to keep our confidence and make sure that we walk in there knowing we’re going to do this for ourselves and for our team,” she said.
Although the majority of La Grande’s girls athletes are underclassmen, preparation and experience throughout the season are the prime predecessors for postseason competition. For Tubbs, the sophomore is looking to improve upon a second-place finish in last year’s 1,500 and a third-place finish in the 3,000.
Tubbs is aiming to break the 5-minute mark in the 1,500, while keeping up with the pace of the lead group in the 3,000.
“Now that I know what to expect and know more about what’s going on there, it’s not as big of a shock this year,” Tubbs said. “It’s a feeling of letting it all go, putting everything into the last competition of the year.”
Huxoll, a senior, is looking forward to making a run at a title in the javelin. After earning a trip to state last year but missing the qualifying score, Huxoll has seen his number improve drastically this season.
“I’m pretty excited and hoping to (personal best),” he said. “I’d say everything is really coming together, all the weeks of practice.”
Durvik, the district champion in triple jump, noted that her senior season has been a thrill — the soccer standout is taking part in her first ever track season and started competing in the triple jump just three weeks ago. Even so, Durvik is the 11th seed in the event heading into the state championships.
“I’m really excited, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Durvik said. “Just getting there and seeing all the other athletes is going to be a great experience. I hope I can (personal best) and have fun.”
After missing the last two years with injuries, Whitmore is aiming to finish off the season on a strong note in the shot put. The junior is seeded sixth, but this year’s group of throwers all have similar best marks on the season.
Heading into the season finale, Whitmore is aiming to throw over 50 feet.
“I feel like it’s super wide open,” he said. “I don’t think the rankings matter as much this year.”
La Grande will begin its competitions on May 20, as schools from each classification also compete at Hayward Field. The events will conclude on May 21, when overall state champion are named.
“I hope that everyone can do as good as they can in their events and just have fun, enjoy the moment,” Durvik said.