LEBANON — Wet conditions Wednesday afternoon weren’t good for any field events. But Erik Ventura made the most of it.
The Crescent Valley High junior achieved a big personal best to pull off the upset and take second in the boys long jump on the opening day of the Mid-Willamette Conference track and field district meet at Heath Stadium.
Then he went to the high jump, where he was among the favorites, and won an event heavily affected by the rain.
Ventura improved his previous long jump personal best by 13 inches with his runner-up mark of 21-6½. He had the conference’s sixth-best mark this season coming into the meet.
“I knew I had the potential. It was just a matter of performing,” he said. “I did a lot of mental training. I knew I had the physical capability. It was a matter of getting my mind right for that day.”
Benjamin Courtney of Dallas was the winner at 21-8¼. South Albany’s Eli Nafziger was third at 21-1.
At the high jump, Ventura found a heavy dose of rain and a wet, cold landing mat.
His winning 5-8 jump was four inches under his PR and lower than two other entrants had cleared this spring. Given the conditions, getting to state was all that mattered, Ventura said.
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. The district meet concludes Thursday.
Ventura will be joined at state by his teammate Mason Forrest, who was second in the high jump, also at 5-8.
“It’s great. We wanted it all season. That’s what we were looking for. He’s a senior. We wanted to go together, go off with a bang,” Ventura said. “We’re like brothers when it comes to that. We’ve both been jumping the same height the last three years. We built a bond over that.”
Lebanon’s Trenton Tuomi was third at 5-4.
In the discus, West Albany sophomore Aiden Paul won with a toss of 165-11.
It’s more than 10 feet off his personal best set last month that’s second in the state among all classifications this spring.
But again, the weather wasn’t cooperating and made for a slick ring.
“It wasn’t my worst meet of the season, but the conditions weren’t ideal,” Paul said. “I’ll do better at state hopefully.”
CV’s Kaimana “Bubba” Wa’a was third at 127-9.
Crescent Valley senior Ryan Bracht got to 12-6 in the pole vault, and after wrapping up first called it a day due to the rain. He was tired after returning from running a 100 preliminary and the drizzle zapped his energy.
“I tried to not let it get to my head too much,” he said. “Of course it makes the poles a little more slippery, so that’s hard to keep it out of my mind.”
South’s Nathaniel Young was second at 12-3 and CV’s Ty Abernathy fourth at 11-6, both with new PRs.
Crescent Valley’s Blake Byer was fourth in the 3,000 in 9 minutes, 11.57 seconds.
Lebanon senior Morgan Hopkins claimed the shot put title with a toss of 36-8, besting West Albany senior Alyssa Walls by an inch.
Neither athlete improved their mark in the finals after three preliminary tosses. Walls’ best throw was her first. Hopkins took the lead on her third throw.
Hopkins, who has a personal-best and 5A season-leading mark of 40-¼, recorded five throws of better than 35 feet.
“I like the consistency, but it’s not where I should be or have been,” she said. “I just need to get better with that.”
Walls, a five-time 6A state qualifier the past two years, added the javelin to her list for state this year after taking third and reaching an automatic standard at 124-2. It was a close competition, with Silverton’s Riley Traeger winning at 124-8 and North Salem’s Kiara Ballard second at 124-6. West’s Courtney Isom was fourth at 110-0.
Crescent Valley sophomore Sunitha Black made the 3,000 final all her own, pulling away with two laps left to win in a personal-best 10:26.5.
Black made distance on a pack that included Corvallis’ Madeline Nason (second, 10:29.88) and West Albany junior Annie Berry (fourth, personal-best 10:38.4).
“I felt like I needed to get away more than a lap, so I decided that I had enough energy to keep going for 800,” Black said. “That worked for me in eighth grade.”
Black put her speed work from practice to use and crossed off some goals.
“At state we can talk about time,” she added. “I cared a lot about placing for state especially. But I’m proud of everybody who went out there and ran.”
Crescent Valley sophomore Jada Foster had her nerves eased after surpassing the long jump automatic standard with a mark of 17-½ on her second preliminary jump.
That put Foster in second at the time, but it turned out she needed the automatic standard because she finished third. The top three placers were within an inch of each other, as Central’s Sophia Henke was the winner at 17-1½ and North Salem’s Rebekah Miller runner-up at 17-¾. Ellie Hintzman of Corvallis was fourth at 16-4½.
Foster said the big jump allowed her to relax “very much. I knew I wanted to still win but I knew that was qualifying, so that was really good. I’m so excited, going to state. Words can’t explain how happy I am.”