By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The track and field season is barely underway, but the McNary High School boys 4×400 relay started things off in a big way.
The team – comprised of seniors Anthony Nguyen and Austin Brown, junior Brendan Van Voorhis and sophomore Levi Timmons – took part in an exhibition race at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ World Indoor Championships held in Portland March 17-20.
“It’s a pretty cool experience just to be on the track with those great runners,” said Van Voorhis. “A big stage like this one is going to be pretty comparable to state.”
The Celtic team was picked for the honor by a special selection committee based on performances from the 2015 outdoor season and 2016 indoor season. They were also slotted in the finale race, the boys invitational, that featured teams from Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
“It’s good exposure for us and our school. It’s a way to get our names and the name of our school out there,” said Nguyen. “It also gives us a big edge to have that high-level competition this early in the season.”
The Celtics lost their anchor, Kyle Torres, to graduation last June, but Nguyen is returning after a standout sophomore season that saw him finish second in the Greater Valley Conference meet 100 meter in 2014. Van Voorhis has served time on both the 4×100 and 4×400 team, Brown is a veteran of the 4×100 and Timmons is an up-and-comer from the junior varsity team after a strong freshman season.
“It’s cool because watching them run last year was inspiring,” Timmons said. “My goal is just to keep up with them this year and improve individually as well.”
In a pool of mostly individualized competitions the relays stand out for the team effort required.
“It’ s different from other events because you have other people relying on you, but that pressure pushes us to get better and make sure that we’re doing what we need to be doing,” Brown said.
The Celtics finished fourth in the race with a time of 3:34.
Kelley Borresen, the Celts’ relay coach, said the invitation to the World Indoor Championships was a credit to the way the program has bred success over time in both boys and girls relays.
“Each year, everyone on those teams has been willing to add to their training. By this time in the year, they’re lifting weights every morning and spent time running in the off-season. They have become a group of leaders for the program as a whole, and they do a great job of including the younger kids in the training and lifting them up,” Borresen said. “Being selected for the race is a nice way to recognize the effort and level that our athletes have trained at.”
While it’s a bit early to be talking about the season yet to unfold, Borresen has high hopes.
“With the work they’ve put in, they are in a good position to compete at a high level,” she said.