LEBANON — Morgan Hopkins found her best mark of the season in the biggest meet to date, just as she did last spring.
It was one event down and one to go after the Lebanon High junior won the girls shot put with a toss of 36 feet, 10½ inches at the Mid-Willamette Conference district championships Wednesday at Heath Stadium.
“It makes me feel like I’m ready for the state meet coming up,” said Hopkins, who has the discus Thursday. It shows that I’m starting to peak at the right time and it’s not a lucky throw. I’m being more consistent.”
Last spring, Hopkins surprised everyone, including herself, with a huge PR of 38-8½ to win the 5A state title.
She said this year hasn’t changed too much.
“It’s a little different, knowing that I can do that distance,” Hopkins said. “I know I have it in me so I know I’m going to do it. I just need to do it.”
She’s seen her marks improve steadily over the season and hopes to carry her positive energy into the discus.
Lebanon’s Jastyn Shilts was third at 34-3.
The top two placers in each event — as well as those reaching qualifying standards or receiving a wild card berth — advance to next week’s 5A state meet in Eugene.
South Albany’s Katie Mayhue wanted to finish her senior year on a good note, and she took a big step toward that Wednesday.
Mayhue went 16-3 to finish second in the long jump to claim the conference’s last automatic state spot. That was one inch better than Ellie Hintzman of Corvallis and two inches ahead of teammate Preston Johnson.
Emily Candee of Silverton beat her previous season best by a foot to win at 16-7.
“The jumping was kind of iffy, but I busted out one good one and that’s all I needed,” said Mayhue, who took a year off from the sport in 2017 after moving from Wyoming.
Mayhue’s best mark Wednesday came on her third and final preliminary attempt and was good enough to hold up through the finals. She goes into Thursday’s high jump final as the second seed with a personal-best 5-2 this spring.
Lebanon’s Hannah Mason (11:05.81) and Amy Workman (11:14.07) were fourth and fifth, respectively in the 3,000.
South Albany’s Makayla Kyle placed twice, taking fifth in the javelin (109-8) and seventh in the shot put (30-3½). Lebanon’s Ashlyn McMullan was fourth in the javelin (111-9).
Eli Nafziger’s wait finally ended.
The South Albany senior got his best result — a long jump PR of 21-3 — to finish second and qualify for state.
Nafziger’s top mark of the day came on his second of three jumps in finals. His previous best in the competition was 20-3½.
“I just had to relax, and as I was going through the air just extend my feet. I’ve been working on the runway a lot and it just turned over in the meet,” he said. “I’ve been envisioning it and seeing it coming for a while. I’ve been wanting to get 21 … that was my goal the whole season. It felt good to finally get it.”
Nafziger sees this as a spark as he heads to the state meet with a new personal best.
“It just shows me that I can improve more, do well at state and place there,” he said.
Teammate Draven True was fifth at 20-7.
South senior Logan Whittaker got his best high jump clearance in a month to win at 6-2.
That height was two inches shorter than the PR he set earlier in the season. Not long after, he suffered an ankle injury. But he’s feeling 100 percent now.
“We figured out my ankle, and I’m factually able to get my run-through full,” said Whittaker. “Once we got that I could just plow through jumps.”
Lebanon senior Tanner Acosta got some redemption with a runner-up finish behind Whittaker at 6-1, equaling the personal best he set two years ago.
It also got him back to state, a goal he missed out on last year. It ended Acosta’s shot at three straight trips, but he came back strong.
“It was huge for me personally,” he said. “It’s been something that I’ve been wanting for so long.”
South Albany’s Nathaniel Young was third in the pole vault at 11-6.
Lebanon’s Freddy Buresh was third in the discus (123-9) and teammate Alec Fillmore was fifth (117-10).