By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
If the 50-plus track and field teams competing in the Oregon Middle School Meet of Champions didn’t know about Claggett Creek before, they certainly do now.
In its first ever trip to the state meet, Claggett’s 4×100 boys relay team of eighth graders Gabriel Martinez, Ethan Martin, Emanuel Figueroa, Dyami Rios, brought home the track program’s first state championship while setting another school record, finishing in 46.61 seconds.
“This is destiny what we had,” Figueroa said. “I was supposed to go to a different school but something happened so I came here and coming here has basically changed who I am because without running I wouldn’t be here. Without these three people (Martinez, Martin and Rios) behind me, supporting me, picking me up when I fall, I wouldn’t be here. Experiencing everything, blood, sweat, tears, soreness, it’s all changed who I am and I know it’s changed who these guys are, too.”
CCMS went into the meet on Thursday, May 25 at Corvallis High School with the fastest time but barely made it to finals after finishing in seventh in 47.85 during prelims.
“It was very nerve-racking,” said Martinez, who ran the first leg of the race. “We didn’t know what was going to happen in finals. We had four hours to prepare ourselves mentally and just win the race and try to do our best.”
CCMS wasn’t at full strength. Just one day before the meet, Martin, Claggett’s second runner, had hurt his ankle falling off the bleachers at school.
“I didn’t want to let them down so I just ran through the pain,” Martin said.
After running the third leg, Figueroa passed the baton to Rios to finish the race.
“I was just trying not to lose the lead and run my fastest,” said Rios, who also competed individually, finishing ninth in the 100 and 10th in the 200 during prelims.
Shirley Richardson, Claggett’s sprint coach, put the four kids together as sixth graders.
“I like to keep kids together because the more you work together the stronger you become as a team,” Richardson said.
“They started off as sixth graders with a 52 (seconds) and then went 49 as seventh graders and 46 as eighth graders. It’s huge because we haven’t had a dominant group of kids so it’s been a real blessing. These kids are leaving a legacy of what they can do so other kids here can be inspired by what they’ve done. These guys are good leaders in the classroom. They’re hard workers.”
The 4×100 team has already inspired their teammates.
Despite being seeded ninth and not even running in the fastest of the three heats, the 4×400 relay squad of Figueroa, Torren Hamilton, Juan Diego Acosta and Elijha Devoursney placed fourth at the Meet of Champions, breaking the school record by nine seconds in 3:49.83.
Their goal was 3:53.
By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
When outgoing McNary drama director Dallas Myers asked the student thespian board to nominate someone for the Ken Collins Award, there was only one name they could come up with, whether he liked it or not.
“We decided there was no one more deserving and less willing to accept this award than Mr. Myers,” McNary senior Michael Dugan said during the Golden Onions on Friday, June 2. “Coming into this department, I never knew how much I would need theater in my life and how I would need someone like Mr. Myers to not take it easy on me and to really know what I needed at that point. He just knows what people need in their lives and it’s an amazing talent, makes the department what it is today.”
To senior Annie Purkey, Myers was like a father.
“One reason why this award was so easy for all of us is not only because of how much you care about this department but how much you care about each of us as individuals,” an emotional Purkey said. “You are the person that was there to support me when my dad didn’t and you have offered me all the advice that I needed to get through my high school years and I couldn’t have made it without you. Thank you.”
Myers, who’s taking a position at Auburn High School in Washington, said he didn’t want to accept the award because he didn’t want to admit he was leaving.
“When I picked up this plaque today, (I thought) it doesn’t look real,” Myers said. “It’s been an honor to be here for seven years. I don’t have words for my experience this year, just the fact that my own kids, this is like their second home so that I’ll be able to leave my name on something is really neat. I don’t regret anything that I’ve done here or any shows that I’ve done here or any letters of hate or any letters of praise that I’ve received. I don’t regret any of it. This experience at McNary and this experience with you guys this year will make lots of things pale in comparison. Thank you.”
The students weren’t done honoring Myers. After senior Heidi Hays presented him with a book full of photos from all of the shows over the last seven years, a video played that began with “Dallas Myers is the teacher that we will remember for the rest of our lives, and we just want to say THANK YOU,” followed by testimony from more than 30 current and former students on what Myers taught them.
“There are times as a teacher where you doubt yourself or you doubt what you’re doing,” Myers said after watching the video. “You go through the most gut-wrenching self doubt. You guys have seen it in me. This just pays for it. I’ll take this day with me for the rest of my life and I’ll take all of you with me, too, your passion and your memories and your smiles. I don’t have words. I had a feeling that this night was going to be really hard for me and I was going to stumble my way through it. There’s no better way to leave.”
Myers compared the evening to a scene in his favorite movie, Dead Poets Society, when students stand on their desk, declaring “Oh Captain, My Captain” to support their fired teacher.
“As a teacher you dream of that moment, not of getting fired, but of that experience,” Myers said. “Thank you for this. I will lock this memory in for the rest of my existence.”