Rebeka Preston is certainly the standout among Santiam Christian High’s state contingent as a three-time individual champion and the 3A triple jump all-time record-holder.
But the senior has some help.
The Eagles won the district title for the first time in 16 years and, if everything goes well, have a shot at a state team trophy.
Sophomore Amanda Preston, Rebeka’s sister, has the second-fastest 300 hurdles time this spring.
Senior Tommi Villers is seeded tied for fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 based on season-best times. Freshman Emily Bourne (high jump) and Audrey Miller (400) won district titles as first-time athletes in the sport.
Kaia Bolster and Villers join the Prestons on both relays. The 4x100 relay is seeded second and the 4x400 third.
“We’re all definitely gamers,” Rebeka Preston said. “The state meet is kind of where we always do our best, so we’re super excited to see what we’re able to do.”
Amanda Preston ran a personal-best 47.93 in the 300 hurdles at an April meet. It was more than four seconds faster than she had ever ran, and she had a hard time believing it was correct.
“I was aiming for a 50, so when I got under that it was really exciting. Kind of a breakthrough, ‘wow, I can do this,’” she said.
Rebeka Preston, the defending 3A triple jump champion, moved from fourth to first on the all-time list with her mark of 38 feet, 11¼ inches at the April 14 Meet of Champions in Salem.
She saw it as her offseason work paying off.
“I definitely knew I could do it, but it was actually having my mind telling my body what to do,” Preston said.
That result was part of her season series of consistently strong results. She hasn’t had a meet-best mark under 37-1 all season. She credits that to work on her form.
“Form is everything in triple jump, so just really just making sure that I’m focusing on my form and that aspect of it as opposed to power really helps,” she said.
Eagles coach Peter Ness also points to her hard work, competitive attitude and being a coachable athlete.
“She wants the best out of herself and she wants the best out of her teammates,” he said. “She listens, pays attention, makes the little bit of adjustment.”
A nagging hamstring at the district meet kept Rebeka Preston out of the 400 and 4x400 finals. Preston won the 400 at state as a freshman and sophomore.
Miller won the district 400 and filled in on the winning 4x400 team.
The state meet for the 3A, 2A and 1A classifications is Thursday and Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene.
Jefferson junior Cesar Sepulveda will have a busy — and potentially successful — meet after qualifying in four events.
He’s seeded first in the high jump, second in the triple jump and third in the long jump based on season results. He also helped the Lions make state in the 4x400.
Santiam Christian’s Paul Lim is seeded fourth in the 3,000 and fifth in the 1,500. Teammate Brennen Sorah is seeded third in the 110 hurdles.
Times and marks at or near the best in the classification this spring have put the East Linn Christian boys in contention for a team title.
Less than a point behind Bandon, the Eagles are second in the Democrat-Herald form chart, which uses season-best times and marks.
Junior Ben Johnson has seen hard work pay off in a big way this season.
He’s improved his high jump personal best from 2017 to 6-1, which makes him the favorite at the state meet. Johnson has also seen his discus PR jump more than 13 feet. He’s seeded eighth in that event.
“The biggest thing is he’s put in the time in the weight room,” said Eagles coach Kellen Peters.
Johnson has also improved his javelin best by more than 40 feet but didn’t make state after a third-place district finish.
Teammate Jedaiah Wasson is slated for big points in the 1,500 and 3,000, where he’s seeded third and second, respectively, based on his season times.
It’s the same for Christian Wilson, who is seeded second in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles.
The Eagles got three boys hurdlers to state in all. Nick Vandehey is seeded third in the 110s and Jacob Johns sixth in the 300s.
Central Linn’s girls program has turned the tide after a long, successful recent run by the school’s boys team.
The Cobras are slotted for fourth in the Democrat-Herald form chart.
Jessica Neal, seeded second in the 800 and third in the 1,500, is expected to be the highest point scorer.
Gracie Robb is seeded fourth in the 100 and seventh in the 200. She also runs on the fourth-seeded 4x100 relay and third-seeded 4x400 relay. Neal also runs on the 4x400 relay.
Jenna Neal is seeded fourth in the 3,000 and Makenna Chapman, another 4x400 member, is seeded fifth in the 300 hurdles.
East Linn’s Dahlia Rickman had an up-and-down district meet.
She false-started in the final of the 100, where she would have been one of the favorites at state. But the senior won the 200 and was third in the triple jump to also qualify in that event.
Rickman is seeded third in the 200 and fourth in the triple jump.
"She's one of those that comes on at the end of the season," Peters said. "She's feeling fresh. She's ready to go."
Teammate Cori Sanders has the No. 2 season mark in the discus.