LEBANON — Madeline Nason didn’t have a plan. She just knew she had to kick hard to the finish.
The Corvallis freshman did just that, fighting off a strong field and pulling away for win in the girls 1,500 meters Thursday at the Mid-Willamette Conference track and field district meet at Heath Stadium.
Nason found herself trailing Crescent Valley’s Sunitha Black and Silverton’s Jori Paradis with two laps to go. With one left, it was anybody race as the trio crossed the finish line together.
But Black, Wednesday’s 3,000 winner, and Paradis couldn’t match what Nason had left on the final lap.
“When I went after Sunitha I knew I needed to pass her soon,” said Nason, who matched Black’s quickened pace in the next-to-last lap. Nason credited speed work on the track for helping her get the win.
“I wanted to make it to state and I want to compete well there,” she said of her goals.
Nason finished in 4 minutes, 46.02 seconds, a personal best by nearly seven seconds.
Paradis was second in 4:48.43. Lebanon’s Isabella Ayala (third, 4:52.3) edged Black (fourth, 4:52.43) at the finish line.
The top two placers in each event, those reaching automatic qualifying standards and others receiving wild-card berths based on district results advance to next week’s 5A state meet at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham.
North Salem ran away with the team title, scoring 217.25 to runner-up Silverton’s 112.5. West Albany was third, Crescent Valley fourth, Corvallis fifth, Lebanon eighth and South Albany ninth in the nine-team meet.
West Albany senior Tiffany Forrest met her own expectations on her way to winning the triple jump at 35-1¼.
She was short of what she’s jumped before, but winning was the biggest goal.
“I feel really good about it. I was seeded first going in and I really was expecting to win and if I didn’t I was going to be really mad at myself,” she said.
Teammate Sydney Beers was third at 34-7. Beers was also third in the high jump (5-0).
Forrest, who helped her team take third in the 4x100 relay, was one of three individual winners for the Bulldogs on Thursday.
In winning the discus, West senior Alyssa Walls made it three for three in state qualification.
Wednesday, she was second in the shot put and made state in the javelin with an automatic standard after a third-place finish.
Walls’ discus toss of 118-5 Thursday was a season best — and only two inches off her PR — and gave her a boost of confidence.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot better about how I performed today considering this season it’s just kind of been mediocre, average,” she said. “I definitely feel like it’s been paying off doing all the drills, all the things in practice and just dedicating the time. It feels awesome to be back up to where I should be.”
Walls said staying relaxed and focusing on technique and fundamentals were big factors.
Lebanon’s Morgan Hopkins was second (113-5) and Crescent Valley’s Sierra Noss third (112-2), both with personal bests.
West sophomore Brooke Donner surprised even herself when she beat her pole vault PR by a foot to win at 10-2.
The favorite going in with the best mark in the conference this spring, she said being confident in herself was a big factor.
“My coach just put me on a new pole. So that really helped a lot,” Donner said. “Actually I wasn’t feeling that great. I wasn’t really expecting much from this meet but it just came together, I guess.”
Corvallis sophomore Wendy Hare got herself two state entries with runner-up finishes in both hurdles races. She finished the 100 hurdles in 16.07 and the 300 in a personal-best 47.16.
North Salem had the winners in both races, Maliyah Thompson in 14.74 and Dana Romero Montero in 45.81, respectively.
“I think I just had two solid races and I’m going to state, so that’s really all I can ask for,” Hare said. “Both of those girls from North Salem are so amazing. Everybody feels like we’re there together, so it just pushes you to keep going.”
Crescent Valley’s Geneva Wolfe was third in the 800 (2:22.17) and helped the Raiders finish third in the 4x400 relay.