McNary freshman Daniel Brattain sails over the hurdles in McNary’s meet with Sprague. Brattain is a dominant force in the league in hurdling events. (Photo submitted by Bill Donaldson)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Given the ease with which they sail over the hurdles, sophomore Felicia Covey and freshman Daniel Brattain may seem like upstarts on the McNary track and field team.

Their secret is that they’ve been at it longer than one would expect. Both took up the sport as sixth graders, and both are excelling at a fast clip despite their ages.

“It’s almost more than a single event,” Brattain said. “You have to be able to run fast and jump high and there’s always something you can change to do it better.”

Brattain already holds the school record at Whiteaker Middle School, but his coaches think he’s only just begun to touch his potential in the event.

Covey isn’t the natural that Brattain is, but her hard work and determination have made her a force to be reckoned with in both the sprint and distance hurdles.

Early in her middle school career she tripped over a hurdle near the end of a race and broke her arm, but didn’t consider giving it up.

“It’s so much work to do it right that I can’t imagine giving it up,” Covey said.

Hurdling races come in two flavors, a 100-(girls) or 110-meter(boys) and a 300-meter.  Participants must clear 10 hurdles in the shorter races and eight in the longer one. Runners suffer a time penalty for each one they knock over. In girls’ events, the hurdles are set at 30 inches for the distance race and 33 inches for the sprint. In boys races, it’s 39 inches in the sprint and 36 inches in the distance.

Unlike sprints or jumping events that require all-out burst of speed or strength, or distance events that require endurance, both Covey and Brattian said hurdling is a matter of body mechanics.

“There’s a lot of technique involved and we have to take things step-by-step,” Covey said.

“It’s a lot to think about,” added Brattain. “You’re concentrating on your lead leg, your trail leg, the steps between hurdles and the lean of your body and the position of arms.”

When it’s going well, however, the athletes who compete are barely thinking about those things at all.

“It goes by so fast it’s hard to think about it. You’re almost sensing it rather than thinking about it,” Covey said.

Brattain swept hurdling events in McNary’s meet with West Salem High School last week. He recorded times of 16.87 in the 110-meter and 42.95 in the 300, while Covey took second place in both events for the girls. McNary lost the boys side of the meet 77-66, while the girls picked up their fourth consecutive dual meet win 78.5-66.5.

“It was a big meet for us,” said Jake Lucey, McNary head coach. “The girls continued their march, but the boys, who didn’t win a single dual meet last year, kept it close against the team expected to win the league.”

The boys were buoyed by strong performances from jumpers Dalton Bodine, Tim McDowell and Austin Christensen, despite having to withdraw several athletes from competition due to illness.

Boys winners were: Amadia Amaitsa in 100-meter at 11.67; Tim McDowell in the 200-meter with a time of 22.89; Dylan McHugh in the 400-meter at 53.99; James Lowells, Amaitsa, McDowell and Garrett Hittner in the 4×100 relay with a time of 44.39; Austin Hejny in the javelin with a distance of 166-10; and McDowell in the high jump clearing 6-02.

For the girls, Laura Donaldson won the 100-meter in 13.58 and the 200-meter in 27.85; Daysha Simms-Garcia put up the top time (62.43) in the 400-meter; Simms-Garcia, Deven Hunter, Aerial Rice and Averi Wing won the 4×100 relay in 51.38; Donaldson, Wing, Keri Stein and Simms-Garcia won the 4×400 in 4:16.74; Stacey Titchenal won the javelin with a toss of 119-07; Wing won the high jump clearing 5-00 and the long jump with a distance of 16-05; and Jenna Quesnel was tops in the pole vault clearing 10-00.