By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Spectators frequently found a Celtic on the podium at the Central Valley Conference district track and field meet.
“Our team going into state is in good position to bring some medals home,” said Frank Gauntz, McNary head coach.
The boys and girls McNary High School track and field teams took second place overall at the meet, but McNary athletes were in the top three for 20 separate events, including a win-show-place sweep of the 100-meter sprint on the boys’ side. Leading the Celtic packs were Daysha Simms-Garcia, Daniel Brattain and Garrett Hittner.
Simms-Garcia took home conference titles in the 100, 200- and 400-meter sprints and anchored the 4×400 relay team of Sydney Hunter, Hali Thurston, Danielle Duran that took first place. The relay team set a new conference record with a time of 4:02.23. Simms-Garcia is the first female to win all three sprinting events in the school’s history. In addition to that milestone, she broke her own school record in the 400-meter with a time of 57.66, and set new personal records the 100 and 200 with times of 12.36 and 25.87.
“I was so focused on the relay that I didn’t even think about setting a new 400 record. It was kind of a surprise,” Simms-Garcia said. “The team overall was being really optimistic, but when something bad happened we refocused on the next thing and trying to do our best.”
With a No. 2 seed in the 400, Simms-Garcia is hopeful for a medal at the state race, but she’s focused elsewhere.
“I could finish fourth and still be happy if I break the 57-second mark,” she said.
Hittner posted career bests in the 100-meter with a 10.99 time, and in the 200-meter with a time of 22.32. He won district titles in both events and shares a title in the 4×100 relay with Austin Brown, Kyle Torres and Anthony Nguyen.
“I had been struggling with a quad injury before the district meet, but everything seemed to come together on that day. The leg isn’t bothering me at all now,” Hittner said.
He’s hoping to improve on his ninth place finish in the 100-meter that he took at the state meet in 2013.
“Right now I’m seeded sixth in both races. I’ve been trying to be conservative up until now, but I’m anxious to see what happens at state,”