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High hopes as track team heads to districts

Dylan McHugh hands off the baton to Bruce Waldner in the 4x100 relay at the dual meet with South Salem High School last week. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The members of the McNary High School track and field team headed into district competition this week with several defending champs seeking to stave off threats to their crown.

For the boys, Dylan McHugh’s district title in the 800-meter will be on the line. McHugh holds the top time in the event in the Central Valley Conference and is No. 5 in state rankings, currently. For the girls, it’s the 4×400 relay team of Averi Wing, Laura Donaldson, Deven Hunter and Daysha Simms-Garcia defending its title.

“We celebrated senior night by running in pink tights last week,” Hunter said. “We just need to stay focused so we can perform to our highest potential and dominate.”

The long-dominant team will lose Hunter and Wing to graduation this year.

“Redmond puts out a tough team, so they’ll have their work cut out for them, but we all believe in them,” said Frank Gauntz, McNary head coach.

Garrett Hittner is hoping to make it to state competition in the 100- and 200-meter races, and to finish the season by laying claim to the Celtic sophomore records in both events. He currently has the fourth-best time in the CVC for the 100-meter and the third-best time in 200-meter.

“I’ve been working with [Kelly] Borreson to smooth out my transitions this season, and there’s still work to be done, but I’m feeling good about where I am,” Hittner said.

Also a relay runner, Hittner said the highlight of the season has been hearing teammates cheer him on as he makes the turns in the relay.

“It’s always great to see them and hear them, and it really makes the whole team feel like a family,” he said.

While many of the athletes have high hopes for the district competition and beyond, the team will do well to expect the unexpected, Gauntz said.

“Weird things happen at district for every team and we want to be prepared for that as much as we can,” he said.

The boys and girls drew the short stick in their final meet of league competition with South Salem High School last week. The girls lost 85-56, while the boys lost 79-66.

Simms-Garcia led the way for the girls cracking 60 seconds in the 400-meter and winning the event with a time of 59.22. She also won the 200-meter with a time of 26.40. Other winners were: Judy Jiang in the 3,000-meter with a time of 14:15.68; Wing, Aerial Rice, Hunter and Simms-Garcia in the 4×100 with a time of 50.93; Wing, Donaldson, Hunter and Simms-Garcia in the 4×400 with a time of 4:13.13; and Stacey Titchenal in the javelin with a toss of 119-06.

Austin Hejny rocketed the discus 155-10 to claim the top spot in the discus for the boys. He bested his personal record by more than four feet in the event. Winners for the boys were: Hittner in the 100- and 200-meter events with times of 11.27 and 23.33, respectively; McHugh won the 400-meter in 51.58; Daniel Brattain won the 110-meter hurdles in 15.34; McHugh, Bruce Waldner, Brattain and Hittner won the 4×100 in 44.66; Brett Hildebrand, Hittner, Amadi Amaitsa, and McHugh won the 4×400 in 3:35.16.