Dylan McHugh leads the pack in an 800-meter race. (Photo submitted by Bill Donaldson)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary varsity track and field teams had plenty of reason to celebrate last week, but one in particular vaulted the the top – 11-foot-1 to be exact.

With all of her teammates watching from the sideline, pole vaulter Jenna Quesnel set a new school records twice in one day at the Central Valley Conference district meet. Quesnel cleared 10-10 and then 11-1 on her first attempts.

“I think I just wanted it all season. I had a lot of support and I warmed up well and that hasn’t been normal so far this season,” Quesnel said.

She said it was a different atmosphere with so many spectators at an event that usually only draws a handful, but she was appreciative of the support.

“They were good about being quiet because that’s what I’m used to, but it was awesome to have them there supporting me,” she said.

She’ll be seeded third at the state competition this week at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Quesnel led the pack in a banner day for the Celtics that is sending a healthy throng of contenders onto state competition.

“The kids did an awesome job, but team placement didn’t reflect how well all of them did,” said Jake Lucey, McNary head coach.

Both the boys and girls finished fifth, but there were standouts on both sides.

For the boys, Dylan McHugh captured the district title in the 800-meter with a time of 2:02.45.

“Timewise it looked like he was more challenged than he was, but Dylan was in complete control the whole time,” Lucey said.

“I don’t know if it was expected, but it’s definitely what I wanted,” McHugh said. “My goal for the state race is striving to break the two-minute barrier.”

Daniel Brattain took second in the 110-hurdles with a time of 15.27 and overtook the runner ahead of him in the final sprint to make it happen.

McHugh, Garrett Hittner, Tim McDowell and Clive Massee captured second in the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3:26.03. Clive Massee, Hittner, McDowell and James Lowells took fourth in the 400-meter relay, but autoqualified with a time of 44.08. Austin Christensen and Amadi Amaitsa will join them as alternates.

Austin Hejny hit 176-07 in the javelin, which only got him fourth place in the event at the district level, but surpassed the autoqualifying mark for entry into the state competition.

“It was a 10-foot personal record for him and then he turned around and got third in the discus,” Lucey said.

McDowell got snarled in a three-way tie for first in the high jump clearing 6-02, but won the district title on his secondary attempts.

For the girls, the 400-meter relay team of Averi Wing, Deven Hunter, Aerial Rice and Daysha Simms-Garcia won with a time of 50.26. Laura Donaldson will join the team as an alternate at state.

“Deven carried the team on her back with a phenomenal leg, but Aerial had a great one, too, and it was nice to see them get that title,” Lucey said.

Looking ahead Simms-Garcia said the team is hoping for a top three finish at state.

“We did really well, but this week, we’re doing a lot of baton passes to make sure we’re ready,” she said.

Stacey Titchenal tied with Kelly Cruise of McKay High School for longest distance in the javelin at 129-01, but fell behind on second attempts narrowly missing the district title in the event.

“The cool sidenote to that one was the current school record holder, Carolann Powers, was in the stands watching to see if Stacey would break her record,” Lucey said.

Averi Wing took second in the jump at 5-02 after recovering from a difficult first day in the meet and will head to state competition.

Lucey was over the moon about the Celtic success, but he was even more thrilled with the batch of students who will return to the meet next season.

“Tony Goemaere came out of absolutely nowhere, he was in seeded 11th in the 3,000-meter and ended up placing fourth. He’s now the top returning underclassman and had a 19-second personal record,” Lucey said. “Perry Groves came in seeded 14th in the triple jump and finished third, missing going to the state tournament by a quarter of an inch. As a freshman he’s got so much potential it’s not even funny.”