It was a historic season for McNary track and field, as multiple state championship appearance droughts will come to an end following last week’s Central Valley Conference district finals.
McNary will be sending four athletes down to Eugene for Friday and Saturday’s OSAA Track and Field State Championships.
For the first time in 10 years, McNary will be represented by a thrower at state. And they won’t have just one, two Lady Celt throwers qualified.
Lillian Besa, a senior, ranks 10th all-time at McNary in the discus at 104 feet, which earned her second place at the CVC Districts.
This was only her second season participating in track and field, and Besa admits that she finds it almost strange to see where she is in such a short time.
“I’d never really thought about joining track at all until last year and I decided to try it out and so it’s just so crazy to think that this is how far I came just from a year pretty much,” Besa said.
The 6A girls discus final is scheduled for Saturday at 1:15 p.m.
Joining Besa as a thrower is sophomore Asia St. John, who not only will be competing in the javelin after taking first at districts, but also in the high jump.
St. John’s throw of 106’8” at districts was a personal best for her, and puts her 13th all-time at McNary. And she had a high level of confidence heading into it.
“I had a good chance, but I didn’t want to be cocky about it, I didn’t want to have that mindset,” St. John said. “I never really liked having that mindset, but I don’t know, I didn’t think I was going to win.”
The girls 6A javelin is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m.
She placed fourth in districts in the high jump, but it was enough to earn her a wild card entry at state.
Her jump of 4 feet, 10 inches actually tied for second along with two Sprague jumpers. A higher number of scratches bumped her from the automatic qualifying spot, but the height was enough for her and a handful of girls to make state.
That said, the opening height will be 5’0” on Saturday when competition opens at 2:45 p.m., so they’ll need a new best to move on.
The other two McNary participants come in the 400 meters.
Ben Sheets, a senior who ranks 11th all-time at McNary, finished first with a time of 51.54 seconds to become the first McNary conference champion or state qualifier in the boys 400 meters.
Sheets said he aims to get that number down into the 50s by Friday’s heat, which begin just after noon, though he’s unclear on the training specifics.
“That’s mostly coach’s job,” Sheets said. “I just do the work he puts in the coaching, but we’re putting in a lot of hard work this week. I’m really feeling the legs now, feeling pretty heavy, but should be perfect by state.”
Kiana Olivo is the first McNary girl to qualify for the 400 meter since 2016. The junior’s time of 1:00.90 was a personal record and second place at districts.
But she knows that things only get harder from here.
“I’m excited for it, but I guess I’m pretty nervous about it too because a bunch of competition and I know that they’re a lot better than I am, but it’s cool just to be there and I got to that point,” Olivo said.
The girls 400-meter is on Friday, with the first heat scheduled for 11:43 a.m.